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Re: updated cite definition - please review

From: Jukka K. Korpela <jukka.k.korpela@kolumbus.fi>
Date: Fri, 23 Aug 2013 14:52:41 +0300
Message-ID: <52174D09.6020302@kolumbus.fi>
To: public-html@w3.org
2013-08-23 13:26, Steve Faulkner wrote:
> I have made changes to the definition of the cite element in the HTML 
> 5.1 editors draft
>
> new: 
> http://www.w3.org/html/wg/drafts/html/master/text-level-semantics.html#the-cite-element
>
> old: 
> http://www.w3.org/TR/html51/text-level-semantics.html#the-cite-element
>
> Note: the changes have no effect on implementations in browsers or 
> conformance checkers.
>

Changing things in a manner that has no effect on implementations seems 
rather futile. The only real effect would be added confusion among 
people who try to take semantic definitions seriously and continued 
debate over "semantics".

It would be best to declare <cite> as a deprecated synonym for <i>, but 
since this is probably unrealistic, the next best option, in attempt to 
minimize confusion and pointless debates, is to use the exactly same 
description as in previous HTML specifications, adapted to the sentence 
structure used:

"The cite element represents a citation or a reference to other sources."

(HTML 4.01: "Contains a citation or a reference to other sources."
HTML 3.2: "used for citations or references to other sources".
These differ from
HTML 2.0: "The CITE element is used to indicate the title of a book or 
other citation. It is typically rendered as italics."
in a rather pointless manner. The change caused nothing but confusion 
and debate. And a new change would do the same.)

The old definition is vague. So is the proposed new one. We have to live 
with the cite element, but not love it. Minimal change (or actually, no 
change to HTML 4.01) is the best way.

If some clarification is needed, I would add something like this (with 
bracketed texts containing details that may be omitted):

The cite element has often been used for titles of books and other works 
even when no quotation is involved[, and this was in conformance to the 
original definition of the element]. On the other hand, it has also been 
used for quoted text [since in many languages, words resembling "cite" 
mean "quotation"]. For such reasons, user agents should make no general 
assumption about the meaning and role of cite elements. Authors should 
note that the expected default rendering of cite is italic text.

-- 
Yucca, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/
Received on Friday, 23 August 2013 11:53:03 UTC

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