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Re: some reflections on @alt usage (and summary of research so far)

From: David Poehlman <david.poehlman@handsontechnologeyes.com>
Date: Sat, 23 Aug 2008 08:33:44 -0400
Message-ID: <F79B27B5E48C45FEBF8D740B95190A86@HANDS>
To: "Ian Hickson" <ian@hixie.ch>, "Steven Faulkner" <faulkner.steve@gmail.com>
Cc: <public-html@w3.org>, "W3C WAI-XTECH" <wai-xtech@w3.org>

speaking as a blind user.  I would not put up a photo with out an alt equiv.

Having said that, this thread is about what should be in spec.  alt plain 
and simple and streight up should be in spec and appropriate links for 
reference if necessary as with any other item in the spec if necessary be 
included.  Your case of the http header being stuffed with garbage is not a 
determining factor, nor is what someone is thought to want to or not to do.

We need to get back to what the web is intended for and that is *all* *end* 
*users*.  As painful as this may seem, it is much less painful than driving 
people away due to yeilding to pressures forcing them into a market they 
neither need nor want.

In the case of some constructs, the largest sample is not good enough 
because while in most cases, catering to a smaller audience does not harm 
the larger audience and again, I state, it is the *end* *user* we are aiming 
at here.

If you make something more breakable it will be broken more often.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Ian Hickson" <ian@hixie.ch>
To: "Steven Faulkner" <faulkner.steve@gmail.com>
Cc: <public-html@w3.org>; "W3C WAI-XTECH" <wai-xtech@w3.org>
Sent: Saturday, August 23, 2008 6:23 AM
Subject: Re: some reflections on @alt usage (and summary of research so far)



On Sat, 23 Aug 2008, Steven Faulkner wrote:
>
> In your righteuos efforts to retrofit some 'research' to your
> unsubstantiated claims you have chosen to conflate the image gallery use
> case with the 'simply is no text that could do justice to the image' use
> case.
>
> Or is it your contention that the images in the photo sites you cite are
> of the category 'simply is no text that could do justice to the image'
> if so, your abilites or your motivation to provide text alternatives is
> very limited indeed.

Speaking with my Google hat on for just this paragraph, I can assure you
that with Picasa Web Albums, if we offered our users the opportunity to
specify alternative text, most wouldn't use it, if we required them to
provide it, most would provide bogus text, and if we forced them to
provide useful alternative text, they would all find one of our
competitors' sites and give up on Picasa altogether. (Google hat off.)

In practice, photo sharing sites will never have alternative text
available for the vast majorty of their images. Pretending otherwise is
neither realistic nor productive.


> The example from the spec that was the subject of your statement was
> not one identified as from a photo site, it is the rorshach example.

There are five examples of images that fall into the "Images whose
contents are not known" category in the spec:

 1. A photo upload site (actually a real image on Flickr)

 2. A photo from a blind photographer's blog

 3. A captcha with a link to an audio captcha instead

 4. A page like Henri's image report tool

 5. Another photo upload site.


> I suggest the basis for something that could actually be described as
> relevant research in this case would something like
> a) select from a random sample of images out of the context in which
> they were published as web content, those which you consider fit the
> category you defined "Sometimes there simply is no text that can do
> justice to an image."
> b) go and look at the images in context and see if descriptive
> identification is provided elsewhere on the page that is unambiguously
> associated with the image (not just an implied visual association).

It's not clear to me what point this would provide research for.

The point that I had been arguing which started this thread was that for
the three cases where using alt={} would be valid per the current spec,
namely automated image collection (e.g. Webcams), tools dealing with
unknown imags (e.g. photo upload sites, image-report-like tools), and
authors who haven't seen the image (e.g. blind photographers asking their
friends for descriptions), the metadata about the image would always be
included near the image and would therefore always be redundant if
included in the alt="" attribute.

I have shown that this is true for photo upload sites (at least, I have
shown it to my satisfaction, and nobody has shown a counter-example). I
could go on and show it for webcams, blind users' blogs, and so forth, but
it would probably be easier for everyone for you just to show a few
counter-examples, if there really are any.

-- 
Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'
Received on Saturday, 23 August 2008 12:34:34 GMT

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