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Re: edits to the draft should reflect the consensus of the WG

From: Robert Burns <rob@robburns.com>
Date: Fri, 17 Aug 2007 22:43:18 -0500
Message-Id: <D94970D4-BED4-4C64-ACBE-7B0DE3B1C657@robburns.com>
Cc: HTML Working Group <public-html@w3.org>
To: Maurice Carey <maurice@thymeonline.com>

HI Maurice,

On Aug 17, 2007, at 9:15 AM, Maurice Carey wrote:

> On 8/16/07 12:07 AM, "Robert Burns" <rob@robburns.com> wrote:
>> On Aug 15, 2007, at 10:43 PM, Lachlan Hunt wrote:
>>>> [ snip - about Gregory's photo album]
>>>> http://my.opera.com/oedipus/albums
>>> That photo album is a perfect example of extremely poorly generated
>>> alt text.  All of the images contain the alt text: "perception -
>>> photography - image interpretation - blindness".  Although it's
>>> margially better than an empty alt attribute because it gives some
>>> indication of there being an image, it seems to be worse than no
>>> alt attribute, especially since it says nothing at all useful about
>>> the images and is needlessly repeated on every one.  That's the use
>>> case the draft is trying to address by making alt optional in some
>>> cases.

The problem the editor is trying to address is better handled through  
a new attribute.

> http://my.opera.com/oedipus/albums/showpic.dml? 
> album=212490&picture=3424812
> The first comment...
> " Backyard, towards the curb. Mouse, nicely framed, is sitting and  
> staring
> at the camera, on the stoop. The the tip its tail is resting on the  
> doormat,
> which you have cropped. The background includes the short alley, a  
> bit of
> the fence and the gate. There isn't much grass to speak of."
> ...would make a very good alt value, but like most sighted people I  
> don't
> think the photographer would bother writing all that text in the  
> alt where
> they knew the overwhelming majority of their visitors would not be  
> able to
> read it (and possibly not contribute as much for SEO).
> Sighted people just don't write invisible content.
> Now had that first comment instead been the "description" of the  
> photo and
> the blog system presented it as <figure><img><caption></figure>  
> with the
> text visible for sighted people to see and blind people to still  
> hear, then
> I could imagine my clients using our CMS actually going to the  
> trouble of
> giving _almost_ every image a description.
> In the case of <figure><img><caption></figure> would alt really  
> still be
> needed?
> Is <figure><img><caption></figure> even still an option being  
> discussed?
> Sorry, there are just too many messages on this list for me to keep  
> up.

These features are actually targeted at different use-cases. The  
<figure><img><legend></figure> is to associate caption information  
with embedded content in a separate block element. The @alt attribute  
is designed for brief text equivalent for an 'img' element whether  
that element appears inline or in a 'figure' element. The @longdesc  
attribute (that Gregory's blog focusses on) is for text long  
descriptions of 'img' elements. So there are actually three different  
use-cases here covered by three different HTML features (2 existing  
and 1 proposed).

When cataloging photos it is very advisable to try to gather as much  
text description as you can even just for search reasons. If you're  
running a CMS, you can have it display long descriptions or @alt  
attribute values as a caption near the photos (unless you'd rather  
just have something like <div class='caption '>). If you really think  
changing your CMS slightly would bring in lots of image descriptions,  
I would recommend doing it.

Take care,
Received on Saturday, 18 August 2007 03:43:25 UTC

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