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Citing multiple <blockquote> elements in HTML5

From: Sam Kuper <sam.kuper@uclmail.net>
Date: Wed, 10 Sep 2008 18:13:34 +0100
Message-ID: <4126b3450809101013o1c0ee626gef489aa0f0cd9e57@mail.gmail.com>
To: "public-html@w3.org WG" <public-html@w3.org>, whatwg@lists.whatwg.org
Dear all,
In the current HTML5 draft, section 4.4.6 The blockquote
element<http://www.w3.org/html/wg/html5/#the-blockquote>
  states, "If a <blockquote> element is preceded or followed by a single
paragraph that contains a single <cite> element and that is itself not
preceded or followed by another blockquote element and does not itself have
a <q> element descendant, then, the title of the work given by that <cite>
element gives the source of the quotation contained in the <blockquote>
element."

Now, I think that being able to use a <cite> element to give the source of a
<blockquote> element's contents is a useful step forward for HTML, and I
approve of its being introduced in HTML5.

However, I'm not sure that the criteria for determining the <cite> element
are the best ones, as it looks to me as though they will rule out a common
literary usage of block quotes: using a number of block quotes from
different authors to preface a work or part of a work. Such usage is
evident, for instance, in this
book<http://darwin-online.org.uk/content/frameset?itemID=F381&viewtype=image&pageseq=9>
.

If I understand section 4.4.6 correctly, then having:

<blockquote>First quote.</blockquote>
<p>First quote's author: <cite>First quote's reference</cite>.</p>
<blockquote>Second quote.</blockquote>
<p>Second quote's author: <cite>Second quote's reference</cite>.</p>
<blockquote>Third quote.</blockquote>
<p>Third quote's author: <cite>Third quote's reference</cite>.</p>

in an HTML5 file will mean that only the third of these <cite> elements will
be used as the reference for its preceding <blockquote>, because it is the
only one of the three in a single paragraph "that is itself not preceded or
followed by another blockquote element and does not itself have a <q>
element descendant". This strikes me as problematic. How, in a case like
this, should one mark up the block quotes and their references, without
introducing extraneous elements?

NB. If I'm not the first to ask this question, I'd be grateful for a link to
where it has been discussed previously.

As a preliminary suggestion, perhaps it would be better if the spec said,
"If a <blockquote> element is followed by a single paragraph that contains a
single <cite> element and that is itself not preceded or followed by another
blockquote element and does not itself have a <q> element descendant, then,
the title of the work given by that <cite> element gives the source of the
quotation contained in the <blockquote> element." It is, after all, normal
in English and a number of other widely-used languages (though I cannot
vouch for all languages - perhaps others will have some useful insights
here) for the citation to be given following a block quote, where one is
given.

Many thanks,

Sam
Received on Wednesday, 10 September 2008 17:14:12 GMT

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