W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > February 2009

Re: summary="" in HTML5 ISSUE-32

From: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>
Date: Thu, 26 Feb 2009 18:31:26 -0800
Cc: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>, Steven Faulkner <faulkner.steve@gmail.com>, HTMLWG <public-html@w3.org>, W3C WAI Protocols & Formats <w3c-wai-pf@w3.org>
Message-id: <EBC2F888-D72C-4C83-9B59-D241E5351974@apple.com>
To: Robert J Burns <rob@robburns.com>

On Feb 26, 2009, at 6:13 PM, Robert J Burns wrote:

> HI Maciej,
> On Feb 26, 2009, at 8:48 PM, Maciej Stachowiak wrote:
>> On Feb 26, 2009, at 5:29 PM, Robert J Burns wrote:
>>>> 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.
>> The scientific method says that to dispute a theory (e.g. "summary  
>> values are usually poor"), one provides contrary evidence. For  
>> example, showing actual selection bias in Philip's study, or doing  
>> a study that shows different results, would be examples of the  
>> scientific method in action. Contrary evidence is what we use to  
>> reject a hypothesis.
> Its what the scientific community uses to reject hypothesis. You use  
> PR style spin.

That seems like an unwarranted remark. I don't believe I have used "PR  
style spin" to reject a hypothesis. I'm not sure what that would even  

>> On the other hand, spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt about the  
>> quality of Philip's study is not the scientific method. It is not  
>> science to say the study is bad without pointing out specific  
>> problems or showing contradictory results.
> I'm not spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt about the quality of  
> Philip's study. You're making wild claims about what the study says  
> in suggesting that I am. Philip himself disclosed the bias of the  
> sample. I don't even care about that so much. Let's use it as  
> anecdotal evidence which can still be useful. But let us use  
> anecdotal evidence for what it is useful for and not claim it can  
> show us what it cannot. For example it cannot show us what  
> percentage of pages use summary='' for layout tables or misuse is it  
> for non-layout tables.

I don't recall endorsing Philip's study or making any conclusions  
about what it claims. Philip says he did not use a high quality method  
to pick a random sample. But that does not in itself prove a sample  
bias or selection bias, in particular it does not show the results are  
non-representative of how summary="" is used. It is well known in  
statistics that fairly small samples can lead to statistically  
significant conclusions about the population as a whole.

If you'd like to show the results are wrong, you have to show some  
evidence, not just cast vague aspersions on the methodology.

Received on Friday, 27 February 2009 02:32:14 UTC

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