W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-au@w3.org > April to June 1999

file name plus file size not a bad starting ALT

From: Al Gilman <asgilman@iamdigex.net>
Date: Thu, 24 Jun 1999 10:09:37 -0400
Message-Id: <199906241403.KAA174439@relay.interim.iamworld.net>
To: w3c-wai-au@w3.org
This issue came up tangentially on WebWatch and David asserted the AU
guidelines would discourage use of (file name , file size) as a
machine-generated initial value for ALT text.

I am not sure if the benefits of this practice have been duly considered by
the group, so I am repeating them here for your consideration and balancing
off against all other relevant interests in this matter.


At 08:48 AM 6/24/99 -0400, David Clark wrote:
>Just wanted to respond to this on behalf of CAST.
>You make a good point that, ideally, Bobby should look at the content of the
>ALT text to try and detect whether it is just the file size. We have not
>addressed it to this point because we have had other higher priorities. We
>will be looking at it for future versions.

Rules for checking HTML are being discussed and developed in the Evaluation
and Repair working group in the WAI.  You can join.  See
<http://www.w3.org/WAI/ER/> for more information.

In particular, there is a working draft description of these rules at


Comments should be addressed to <w3c-wai-er-ig@w3.org> and follow-up to
comments can be read at <http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/w3c-wai-er-ig/>.

Yes, these people are cooperating with the author tools group.

>This problem also needs to be "nipped in the bud" by discouraging authoring
>tool publishers from having this content be the default ALT text when
>inserting images. The WAI Authoring Tools Working Group is including  this
>recommendation in their guidelines.

This is debatable.

I fear that the file size has gotten an unduly bad press because there are
no representatives of the "low bandwidth network connection" user group
involved in the discussion.  File name and file size suits the needs of
this group of users very well.  For them one role of the ALT text is as a
link label for the optional retrieval of the image.  As a starting
insertion, if the user will take just a moment to edit based on this
beinning, it makes a lot of sense.


>David M. Clark
>CAST, Inc., 39 Cross St., Peabody, MA  01960
>Tel 978-531-8555 x236 - Fax 978-531-0192
>Email dmclark@cast.org
>-----Original Message-----
>From:	Kelly Ford [mailto:kford@teleport.com]
>Sent:	Tuesday, June 15, 1999 8:46 PM
>To:	webwatch
>Subject:	[webwatch] Perhaps a Few Friendly Notes: http://www.miusa.org
>Hi All,
>One of my annoyances is the web page that sticks an alt tag of the filename
>used for the graphic that includes not only the name but also the file
>size.  Most of the time this information is meaningless but it tends to get
>past validators and gets folks thinking that they've done their job.  I
>mean do I really know that an alt tag reading "approved.gif (2614 bytes)"
>means that a web page has been Bobby approved.
>Thankfully Bobby does ask, when running
>through the service if the images convey more than what's contained in the
>alternative text.  I'd like to see Bobby try and prompt for more than this
>and perhaps watch for alt text that includes file extensions like.gif, jpg
>and such.  Bobby could explicitly state that this probably isn't the most
>desirable alt text to include.
>Anyway, if folks have a second you might drop a note to
>asking this organization that deals with study abroad for folks with
>disabilities to give a tad more attention to the home front.

Received on Thursday, 24 June 1999 10:04:00 UTC

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