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Re: fear of "invisible metadata" [was Re: retention of summary attribute for TABLE element]

From: Henri Sivonen <hsivonen@iki.fi>
Date: Tue, 19 Jun 2007 08:05:10 +0300
Message-Id: <E2CB516B-259F-43A1-B5D7-FF2BB5335C81@iki.fi>
Cc: James Graham <jg307@cam.ac.uk>, HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>
To: Gregory J.Rosmaita <oedipus@hicom.net>

On Jun 18, 2007, at 19:01, Gregory J. Rosmaita wrote:

>> Summary is explicitly invisible metadata and therefore is more
>> likely to be missing or inaccurate than data that is visible to
>> all UAs.
>
> 1. poor authoring practices should NOT sway or inform our decisions  
> -- if
> markup is being misused, we need to be more precise in the  
> definitions of
> elements and properties,

I disagree. If a markup feature doesn't get used in the wanted ways  
virtually all the time, the feature has failed in the market. More  
precise definitions don't really help if a given feature is onerous  
to author for or doesn't appear to yield a benefit (as perceived by  
the majority of authors). A dead letter in the spec doesn't help  
accessibility.

> AND we must insist that -- just as ALT is
> required for an image -- summary be a REQUIRED attribute of the TABLE
> element

I strongly disagree. You cannot make people provide metadata by  
vehemently insisting that they do. Experience with alt suggests that  
if you require a piece of data to be present for conformance, there  
will be an arms race between conformance checkers and authoring tools  
where the authoring tools generate useless or harmful placeholder  
data that is a step more complex than what conformance checkers can  
detect as a bogus placeholder.

Making a requirement that in practice leads to polluting the user  
experience with bogus placeholder data is not going to help  
accessibility in practice.

> 2. invisible to whom?

To the majority of authors. The point is that if authors don't notice  
that their documents contain wrong metadata, the wrong data will stay  
there and pollute the metadata space making it less useful.

> what kind of logic is that?  the whole damn document is
> invisible to blind users, or only partially visible to low vision  
> users,
> so i think your fear of quote invisible unquote metadata is  
> unfounded and
> unrealistic...

The data that is perceptible to the author and to all users (that is,  
the prose that is rendered somehow to everyone) is the most likely to  
be up to date and correct.

-- 
Henri Sivonen
hsivonen@iki.fi
http://hsivonen.iki.fi/
Received on Tuesday, 19 June 2007 05:02:17 GMT

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