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Re: alt text on Validator.nu image report

From: Philip Taylor <pjt47@cam.ac.uk>
Date: Mon, 05 May 2008 03:41:00 +0100
Message-ID: <481E73BC.9090700@cam.ac.uk>
CC: "public-html@w3.org" <public-html@w3.org>

Smylers wrote:
> Philip Taylor writes:
> 
>> It would be harmful to users if these implementations started treating
>> <img alt=...> as indistinguishable from  plain text (since that would
>> lose useful functionality), so that should  not be the intent of the
>> spec.
> 
> It would be harmful to (some) users if the spec mandated that such alt
> text be indistinguishable from plain text, for the reasons you
> suggested.
> 
> However I'm not convinced that it's necessary for all user-agents always
> to distinguish it.  Given that many image-less browsers offer options
> for tweaking precisely how images are treated, it's likely that
> different users prefer different experiences.

Indeed, I don't want to mandate any particular UI. My thought is just 
that when there are three possible categories of UI, like:

(A) where <img> is more 'useful' (easier to notice, easier to interact 
with, etc) than <img alt="External image">, e.g. because <img 
alt="External image"> is treated as indistinguishable from the text 
"External image"; and

(B) where <img> is as useful as <img alt="External image">, because they 
are treated basically the same;

(C) where <img> is less useful, because the image functionality is only 
provided on <img alt="External image">;

and when category B seems to provide a better user experience than A or 
C in most cases (because it provides more information and more control 
to the user), and all existing implementations are in categories B or C 
by default, it doesn't make sense to design the language around category 
A (by encouraging people to use <img> when they don't have good alt 
text, on the basis that <img alt=...> is meant to be indistinguishable 
from text and therefore less useful than <img>).

-- 
Philip Taylor
pjt47@cam.ac.uk
Received on Monday, 5 May 2008 02:41:37 GMT

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