W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > May 2007

Re: Cleaning House

From: Boris Zbarsky <bzbarsky@MIT.EDU>
Date: Thu, 03 May 2007 17:35:41 -0500
Message-ID: <463A63BD.6010905@mit.edu>
To: "Gregory J. Rosmaita" <oedipus@hicom.net>
CC: public-html@w3.org, www-html@w3.org

Gregory J. Rosmaita wrote:
> Boris Zbarsky replied, quote:
> Yes, yes.  Either I'm with you or I'm against you.  I've heard that a 
> lot in recent years; never though it'd come up in a reasonable 
> discussion about the future of web standards. 
> unquote
> 
> it has NOTHING to do with you or me or any one individual; it is a 
> simple statement of fact and a basic premise of interoperability
 > internationalization, accessibility and useability.

Sorry, but that's what everyone using divisive statements like that always says 
-- that it's a statement of fact.

In practice, there is a fair amount of gradation between pure-semantic parkup 
(some docbook examples come to mind) and pure-presentational document formats 
(e.g. PNGs of text).  No one is suggesting that HTML should fall on the 
pure-presentational end of things.  Some people are suggesting that it should 
fall on the pure-semantic end of things (without really explaining how this is 
supposed to work given a very limited vocabulary and the desire to express a 
wide variety of complex concepts).

So the real question is where HTML should fall in this gradation.  Which comes 
back to the question of what the purpose of HTML is.  There seem to be some 
disagreements on these matters, but very few of them are black-and-white, and 
there certainly do not exist the two mutually exclusive camps you have attempted 
to portray.

Note that internationalization, accessibility and useability are not necessarily 
incompatible with presentational markup, within reason.

> Because XSLT can't operate on things that are not well-formed XML? 
> That would be most of the web, last I checked.
> unquote
> 
> since when is pandering to poor authoring practices part of our 
> mandate?

Conforming HTML 4.01 Strict content would be "poor authoring practices" now?

More seriously, answer to your question is "since the HTML working group was 
rechartered".  The relevant text from the charter that makes this part of our 
mandate is:

   The Group will define conformance and parsing requirements for
   'classic HTML', taking into account legacy implementations; the
   Group will not assume that an SGML parser is used for 'classic HTML'.

That would be paragraph 2 of chapter 1 of the charter.  See 
<http://www.w3.org/2007/03/HTML-WG-charter.html>.

> your objection proves my point

Your point was that <sup> and <sub> are somehow more semantic than <i> and <b>. 
  I don't agree with that point.  They're all about equally non-semantic. 
Further, <strong> is about that non-semantic as well (what does it _mean_ 
exactly?).  Same for <em>.

A real semantic emphasis tag, imo, would indicate not only that there is 
emphasis, but _why_, because depending on the situation different reasons for 
emphasis should be treated differently.  Of course you'd need different markup 
for each reason for emphasis.

This grows unwieldy very quickly, so you draw the line somewhere, limiting the 
amount of semantic meaning the markup carries in the interests of it actually 
being usable and used.

The only question is where the line is to be drawn.  I don't take it as gospel 
that <em> is the right place and <i> is not, basically.  It might be.  It might 
not be.  I think that this is something that needs to be decided on an 
element-by-element basis, not with grand statements like "remove all 
presentational elements".

-Boris
Received on Thursday, 3 May 2007 22:36:03 GMT

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