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Re: Baby Steps or Backwards Steps?

From: James Graham <jg307@cam.ac.uk>
Date: Wed, 15 Aug 2007 21:52:23 +0100
Message-ID: <46C36787.3090801@cam.ac.uk>
To: "Gregory J. Rosmaita" <oedipus@hicom.net>
Cc: HTMLWG <public-html@w3.org>

Gregory J. Rosmaita wrote:
> baby steps?  you're talking about "baby steps" while the baby's still in 
> the incubator?  the baby won't survive for very long as long as the 
> following is in the HTML5 draft:

(as an aside this comes across, to me, as needless hyperbole).

  and, most importantly, if, in fact, an "image
> represents a key part of the content." then it MUST be available to 
> everyone -- content is content, no matter what format that content is 
> encoded in...

For millions of people with flickr accounts I suspect imposing a 
requirement to provide alt text for each image would quickly drive them 
to a different service that did not impose such a requirement. Yet the 
_point_ of flickr is the images. You cannot force people to enter 
metadata, much less the kind of high-quality metadata needed to explain 
the meaning of something visually complex like an abstract photograph.

> quote
> In certain rare cases, the image is simply a critical part of the content, 
> and there is no alternative text available. This could be the case, for 
> instance, in a photo gallery, where a user has uploaded 3000 photos 
> from a vacation trip, without providing any descriptions of the images. 
> The images are the whole point of the pages containing them.
> In such cases, the alt attribute must be omitted.
> unquote
> MUST be omitted?  you're telling us that a "critical part of the 
> content" MUST NOT have alt text defined for it?  the alt attribute 
> is a REQUIRED attribute under HTML 4.x for good reason -- the same
> reason why i have proposed on this list that the summary attribute
> be made a REQUIRED attribute for TABLE

I think there is a fine point here that may have been lost; the alt 
attribute is only to be omitted *if there is no alternative text 
available* i.e. the draft is attempting to distinguish alt="" meaning 
"this is a decorative image" from (no alt) meaning "no alt text has been 

"Mixed up signals
Bullet train
People snuffed out in the brutal rain"
--Conner Oberst
Received on Wednesday, 15 August 2007 20:52:55 UTC

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