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RE: What does "for example" mean

From: Bailey, Bruce <Bruce_Bailey@ed.gov>
Date: Tue, 6 Mar 2001 09:21:30 -0500
Message-ID: <5DCA49BDD2B0D41186CE00508B6BEBD0022DAD9B@wdcrobexc01.ed.gov>
To: "'Al Gilman'" <asgilman@iamdigex.net>
Cc: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
I agree with Kynn and Len.  Documents like the WCAG _are_ going to be taken
literally, and if this is not the intent, then the authors should write more
carefully.  I don't feel too foolish having been spoofed in including
trivial summary attributes for layout tables -- after all _every_ automated
tool available apparently makes the same mistake!

Instead of suggesting that the authors would have include "any" and "all" if
that was what they meant, what they _should_ have written -- if SUMMARY were
merely a suggestion for non-layout tables -- is:

<Q>use the SUMMARY attribute on data TABLEs</Q> or <Q>use the SUMMARY or
CAPTION attributes on TABLEs</Q> or <Q>For example, in HTML, one _could_ use
the "summary" attribute of the TABLE element."

In the absences of such qualifiers, it is quite appropriate to take the WCAG
at face value and to use the plain meaning of the English.  There is plenty
that is not perfectly clear (hence the argument that accessibility is an
art).  Well intended people are desperate for guidance.  If the best
document we have is vague or not actually meant to be taken literally, well
it is hardly fair to caste dispersions at the (apparent majority) of people
who have misinterpreted them!

> ----------
> From: 	Al Gilman
> Sent: 	Monday, March 5, 2001 1:57 PM
> To: 	Leonard R. Kasday; love26@gorge.net
> Cc: 	w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
> Subject: 	Re: summary attribute required? history.
> I have to object to your reading of the "plain meaning" of the English.? 
> It does not say "for [any] HTML use the SUMMARY attribute on [all]
> TABLEs."
> What it says is, 'For example, in HTML, use the "summary" attribute of the
> TABLE element.'
> This leaves plenty of room for "in HTML, use the CAPTION subelement within
> a
> TABLE" to be yet another conforming example.
> What it says, in plain English, is that it provides an illustrative
> example,
> and not "a rule for all HTML TABLEs."
> Al
> PS:? This illustrates a general pattern I am picking up.? People make lots
> of
> quantifier errors in reading English.? Probably natural language in
> general.?
> People don't reliably understand the difference between the restrictive
> effect
> of i.e. and the non-restrictive effect of e.g.? Even when you spell them
> out,
> for example as "for example."
Received on Tuesday, 6 March 2001 09:21:41 UTC

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