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punctuation, code, and email subject lines

From: Al Gilman <asgilman@iamdigex.net>
Date: Wed, 11 Apr 2001 11:51:27 -0400
Message-Id: <200104111550.LAA9993108@smtp2.mail.iamworld.net>
To: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
There is a fairly simple, technical mechanism that contributes to Jim and
Jamal
having different perceptions of Jim's subject line.

This is that Jamal was perhaps reading the subject lines for his new mail with
punctuation suppressed.

So the subject was "!important" for Jim, which was clearly in code.  He knew
enough to ask the question about the precedence that is invoked by the
bang-important mark in CSS code, so he didn't perceive that others might not
understand the reference.

However, in Jamal's mailbox, the subject came across as "important" without
the
initial exclamation point.  This is an entirely different kettle of fish.
Dumb
even for contemporary spammers.

Everyone agrees that in principle, subject lines should be a clear
statement of
the subject of the post.  What is going on here is we are discovering the
technicalities involved in achieving this content purpose using text.

The fact is that for reading the summaries of what is in one's inbox, many
speech users will have punctuation turned off.  So using text that depends on
punctuation to indicate that it is code is not safe if you want these users to
understand.

In the mantra "write it down, spell it out," spelling it out can be read
narrowly to mean use whole words rather than acronyms.   However this example
can also serve as a mnemonic for the avoidance of code wherever possible.  If
you have to use code, announce the code in plain natural language.  At
least in
email subject headers.

Al
Received on Wednesday, 11 April 2001 11:50:55 GMT

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