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Re: "downplayed errors"

From: Robert J Burns <rob@robburns.com>
Date: Tue, 10 Feb 2009 11:37:18 -0600
Cc: Charles McCathieNevile <chaals@opera.com>, Henri Sivonen <hsivonen@iki.fi>, HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>
Message-Id: <BCEE35E4-F60B-4A46-9EBD-ADEF5753A519@robburns.com>
To: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>

Hi Ian,

On Feb 9, 2009, at 8:32 PM, Ian Hickson wrote:

> On Tue, 10 Feb 2009, Charles McCathieNevile wrote:
>> For example, I think we could get consensus that img with no al
>> attribute is "conformant but not recommended". I don't think we  
>> will get
>> consensus that img with no alt is conformant and recommended, and I  
>> am
>> dubious about consensus that it is non-conformant.
> As far as I can tell we already have consensus on alt="" being  
> required.
> (With one or two exceptions, the spec requires alt="" to be present.  
> The
> exceptions are machine-checkable.)

Up to your first sentence I think we agree. Though I might have gone  
so far to say we have consensus since I felt there were some  
objections to alt='' being required.

However, the parenthetical that follows is a big but. And there our  
agreement ends completely. I don't think we have consensus at all for  
the few omissions of alt you've written into the draft. Also I do not  
see how you can say these omissions are machine checkable. Perhaps in  
certain circumstances a program that extract photographs off of a  
camera and produces HTML knows why its omitting alt. However, in any  
other case, it is not at all clear to a machine why there's a missing  
alt attribute.

Likewise there's no way for a conformance checker to tell whether an  
HTMl document produced by an email application what audience that  
email reaches. Is it an email to one person, or is an email to a  
marketing listserve for the Association for the Blind and Visually  
Impaired .

I can't imagine at all how you think these could be machine-checkable  
criteria when it comes to omitting alt. Could you tell us a little  
about what you're thinking?

To me the easiest way to make this machine checkable is to remove  
those few conditions that allow the alt attribute to be omitted and  
always require the attribute (of course allowing authoring tools to  
produce non-conforming documents when authors fail to provide  
conforming alt text as any other case when an author uses an authoring  
tool to produce a non-conforming document).

Take care,
Received on Tuesday, 10 February 2009 17:37:59 UTC

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