W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > August 2008

Re: Mandatory and Important

From: Boris Zbarsky <bzbarsky@MIT.EDU>
Date: Mon, 25 Aug 2008 13:12:53 -0400
Message-ID: <48B2E815.50605@mit.edu>
To: John Foliot <foliot@wats.ca>
CC: "'HTML WG'" <public-html@w3.org>, "'W3C WAI-XTECH'" <wai-xtech@w3.org>

John Foliot wrote:
> Boris Zbarsky wrote:
>> John Foliot wrote:
>>> so in the end we have a
>>> situation where the only real "loser" is the claim of conformance.
>> Well, and the credibility of a standards organization that writes
>> standards that are impossible to follow in certain cases that the
>> standard covers.
> 
> This is an opinion and not a fact.

Did I ever claim it's a fact?

Honestly, from my point of view precious little in this whole discussion 
is a fact, since it tends to be about human motivations.

And even more honestly, I don't understand what your issue here is.  You 
said that the only real user here is X.  I pointed out a Y that is also 
a user. Neither one of us made any claims that these are facts.  They 
are clearly our opinions (though obviously informed opinions).

It seems to me that you're ascribing to me views I do not hold, then 
arguing against them, strawman like.  Please don't do that.

> All of the reasons and justifications
> for not including a text alternative are human error based

Did I give any reasons or justifications for not including a text 
alternative?  I merely pointed out an error in your claim.  Please don't 
read anything past what I said into what I said.  Thank you.

> - there is not a technical or physical reason why this cannot happen, only one of poor
> planning, non-conformant authoring tools and/or author
> ignorance/apathy/inability.

Author inability seems like a pretty physical reason to me.  The number 
of seconds in a day and the number of seconds creating text alternatives 
takes for an author are clearly defined physical factors.  So is the 
rate at which an author can create images.  As soon as (# of images per 
day) * (# of seconds per image it takes to create a reasonable text 
alternative) exceeds 86400 or so (leap seconds, etc don't change things 
much), there is a physical problem.

Now the solution would be to reduce the number of seconds per image that 
it takes to create text alternatives.  Or to restrict how much people 
publish.  The latter is clearly undesirable assuming we actually want 
people publishing whatever they want on the web.  The former is hard, 
but sort of being worked on.  We're not yet at a point where we can 
guarantee that the product will be less than 86400.  The third option is 
to reduce the time per image by reducing the quality of the alternate. 
Perhaps this is acceptable for now.  That's certainly the impression 
I've gotten from some of the participants in this thread.

> And, it should be noted, large institutions and other entities routinely
> ignore standards

Indeed.  Problems abound in standards-land.  Raising the questions of 
why the standards are needed in the first place, who will abide by them, 
under what circumstances, and how much sacrifice of purity is worth it 
to get more parties to follow the standard in certain cases (that is, 
what the win is of more parties following in those cases as opposed to 
just all doing their own different things).  Hard questions all.

> and your institutions web site [www.mit.edu], while being very good, still
> has a number of conformance errors to the HTML 4.01 Transitional doctype it
> declares.

For what it's worth, I'm not sure we're looking at the same site, since 
the one I see has an XHTML doctype declared.  There's the side issue of 
MIT not being "my institution" in any sense at the moment: I don't speak 
for them, they don't speak for me.

> So again I pose the question, if it boils down to a choice between lowering
> the bar to aid in conformance to entities that generally do not care about
> conformance even today, or writing a specification that ensures that with
> conformance you also get completeness, which should we codify?

That's the important question, yes.  Did I deny that?

> U cn rite grbge wrds n stl b unerstood - jest dnt call it propr gramer.

Did I ever do that?

> One of many put forth.  Putting forth edge-cases when this should not be a
> requirement opens the door for abuse - Never is unequivocal in it's
> position.

Honestly, I've found that unequivocal positions mean that you have no 
room to do the right thing in cases when it's needed.  There's a reason 
why sane laws are not "unequivocal".  And yes, there are unequivocal 
laws on the books in a lot of places.  They're not very sane.

Now maybe we feel that the amount of right-thing-doingness we give up is 
very small and the benefit of unequivocalness is worth it.  As long as 
that tradeoff is recognized, good.

> How is this "impossible"?

I think I covered this above.

>  What can we do to make it easier for all - both author and
> consumer?

_This_ is the most important question I've yet seen anyone raise in this 
thread.  Hard to answer, though.

> A number of alternative suggestions have emerged from both sides of the
> debate which should be discussed between both sides

For what it's worth, I find the characterization of the situation as a 
debate with two sides to be somewhat off.  But that's not that important.

-Boris
Received on Monday, 25 August 2008 17:13:38 UTC

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