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Re: summary="" in HTML5 ISSUE-32

From: Robert J Burns <rob@robburns.com>
Date: Thu, 26 Feb 2009 20:29:55 -0500
Cc: Steven Faulkner <faulkner.steve@gmail.com>, HTMLWG <public-html@w3.org>, W3C WAI Protocols & Formats <w3c-wai-pf@w3.org>
Message-Id: <4C5185F5-D9AE-49F0-A221-660B50D88830@robburns.com>
To: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
Hi Ian,

On Feb 26, 2009, at 7:21 AM, Ian Hickson wrote:

> On Thu, 26 Feb 2009, Steven Faulkner wrote:
>>
>> Philip's "study" in his own words:
>>
>> "Philip notes that his thing was not attempting to be a particularly
>> useful or detailed or well-thought-out survey, it was just scraping  
>> some
>> easily-available information"
>
> Philip may not consider his data "particularly useful", but since his
> results show similar proportions to other studies, I believe he is
> unnecessarily self-deprecating.

I think Philip is not being self-deprecating. Instead he is being  
honest, trying to properly attenuate the reading of the results to  
just what the data can show us. You are right though that the other  
studies show just as little in results relevant to the conversation as  
what Philip found. In other words (paraphrasing Philip), we can tell  
there are 'summary' attribute values on pages that are unsuitable for  
default display in the normal flow of a document. However, the wild  
inferences that you have drawn from Philip's and google's data are not  
at all supported (such as the widespread existence of substantially  
harmful 'summary' attribute values).

> If you have more objective data, then by all means, present it.

The scientific method does not say that if we can find suitable data  
than we can draw conclusions from it, but if we cannot then we should  
simply allow one person in a position of leadership to make wild  
speculation about what data might possibly exist if we had the  
resources to acquire it.

We have some biased data sets that suggests we can find some anecdotal  
examples: nothing more. However, even those anecdotal examples do not  
really support the claims you've been making about the harm done by  
the 'summary' attribute.  Some of those show anecdotal examples of a  
redundant summary (something that implementations may be able to  
address). Some include summary='' where appropriate to indicate a  
layout table. Some include some summaries that could be authored more  
clearly. Some might even include summaries for simple tables that may  
not even be necessary. However even this anecdotal evidence has not  
produced any examples of substantial harm done to AT users (except  
perhaps the attribute should be provided more often by authors).

Take care,
Rob
Received on Friday, 27 February 2009 01:30:50 GMT

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