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Re: updated cite definition - please review

From: Michael Zajac <mzajac@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, 23 Aug 2013 12:29:31 -0500
Message-Id: <0B24DA1C-E59E-4634-8849-A7A56EB09EE2@gmail.com>
To: HTMLWG WG <public-html@w3.org>
I agree with Smylers.

There is a convention in English-language typography that titles of major works are italicized (or underlined, in manuscript or typescript) – the cite element and its default styling correspond to this special semantic quality evident in most writing. 

There is no writing convention wherein italics are applied to author name, page number, date of publication, etc., in either formal or informal references. Mr. Faulkner’s concept of “reference information” is not commonly expressed in writing. If the cite element is defined this way, it would remain a theoretical semantic element that no one bothers with, because visually, it doesn’t do anything useful.

(What is lacking in the spec is any guidance regarding, or even a mention of, titles of articles, short stories, chapters, sections, and other minor works, which are usually surrounded by quotation marks. These can be handled by the cite element with an added class and CSS. I hope that rules for other languages can be handled in the same manner.)

Michael Z.



--
Michael Zajac
http://zajac.ca/
+1-204-943-6596



On 2013-08-23, at 11:18, Smylers <Smylers@stripey.com> wrote:

> Steve Faulkner writes:
> 
>> 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
> 
> The clarification of <cite> in HTML5 (versus HTML4) made sense to me;
> this change looks to largely undo that, and also disallow some uses
> which were previously allowed.
> 
> I do not understand what the purpose is of an element with such a vague
> definition. It doesn't seem like there is any semantic which can
> usefully be conveyed by knowing that a piece of text which may be one of
> any number of thing relating to the source of quoted text.
> 
> Please can you give an example of why using <cite> in this way is
> useful? For instance, in the example added to the spec, what is the
> advantage in have Charles Bukowski's name marked up (as opposed to
> leaving it with no additional markup, like the other words in the
> sentence)?
> 
> And how would you expect Charles Bukowski's name to be rendered, to
> indicate to the reader that it's information relating to the source of
> the nearby quote? I'm mostly used to names such as this not being
> denoted in any specific way.
> 
> Whereas titles of works often are denoted somehow — perhaps in italics,
> or with single or double quote marks around them, or underlined.
> Obviously such titles need some mark-up to indicate that they are
> titles, so that this can be conveyed to users.
> 
> For instance The Boo Radleys have a track called ‘Charles Bukowski Is
> Dead’, which somebody quoting from the lyrics and writing about the
> album it's on may well abbreviate to ‘Charles Bukowski’ on subsequent
> mentions. They may also refer to the person Charles Bukowski, explaining
> who he is. It's possible for the reader to distinguish between the track
> and the person because the track will be rendered in a way which conveys
> it's the title of a work.
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wake_Up!_%28The_Boo_Radleys_album%29
> 
> So I completely understand the reason for an element with the HTML5
> definition of <cite>.
> 
> What I don't understand is why it makes sense for that element to be the
> same element which is also used to mark up things relating to sources of
> quotations which aren't titles. Please can you explain why it makes
> sense have a single element covering all of these uses?
> 
> Unless you want everything relating to sources of quoted text to be
> denoted like titles are, in practice as an author you're going to need
> to distinguish titles of works from the other uses. This could of course
> be done with classes and CSS which hooks off those, but that then makes
> the semantic site-specific rather than part of the HTML standard.
> 
> In particular, this means that without CSS a user doesn't have the
> intended semantic of the document conveyed to them. This is obviously
> suboptimal compared with a situation where user agents know which bits
> of text are titles (so they can be conveyed appropriately) and which
> aren't.
> 
> It seems like a layering violation for CSS to be required to glean the
> semantics of a document.
> 
> And in practice, existing browsers do display the contents of <cite>
> differently from the surrounding text (italics in graphical browsers, in
> a different colour in Lynx). So anybody using <cite> for something other
> than the title of a work risks it being conveyed as a title of a work to
> users anyway.
> 
> Whereas marking up information related to references to sources of
> quoted text that isn't a title differently — possibly with a newly
> minted element for the purpose, or no mark-up at all, or <span> with a
> site-specific class — avoids this issue.
> 
> Bruce Lawson writes:
> 
>> This change is to restore the HTML 4.01 way.
> 
> I'm not sure that it does. It seems more restrictive than HTML4 was.
> 
> In particular, the new definition only covers information about “quoted
> text”. It no longer allows using <cite> for marking up the title of a
> work which is merely being mentioned, not quoted from.
> 
> For instance, my ‘Charles Bukowski Is Dead’ scenario above involved the
> author quoting from the song's lyrics while writing about the track. If
> lyrics from the track were not quoted, then the song wouldn't qualify as
> “quoted text”, and using <cite> wouldn't be valid, per its new
> definition.
> 
> Please can you explain why this makes sense? It seems to be that an
> author writing about a work could either quote from it or not, and I
> don't understand why the element used to mark up its title depends on
> that.
> 
>> By removing the ability to cite authors, lots of people have spent a
>> good deal of time attempting to find other ways of marking that up,
> 
> Why do they need to mark up authors?
> 
>> leading to potential code bloat (wrapping blockquotes in <figure>, for
>> example, so they can use a <figcaption> instead of <cite> inside /
>> next to a <blockquote>).
> 
> Even if <cite> can be used for an author of a quotation, it isn't valid
> for that to be inside <blockquote>, since <blockquote> is restricted to
> the text being quoted:
> http://www.w3.org/html/wg/drafts/html/master/grouping-content.html#the-blockquote-element
> 
> So if an author wishes to have an element which encloses both a
> quotation and its author, an additional element will be required
> regardless of whether the author is marked up with <cite>, <span>, <p>,
> <figcaption>, or <div>.
> 
> Please can you give an example of using <cite> next to a blockquote
> where using <span> instead of <cite> wouldn't suffice?
> 
> Thanks.
> 
> Smylers
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Received on Friday, 23 August 2013 17:31:11 UTC

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