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RE: Is Flickr an Edge Case? (was Re: HTML Action Item 54)

From: John Foliot <foliot@wats.ca>
Date: Mon, 26 May 2008 17:17:00 -0700
To: "'Maciej Stachowiak'" <mjs@apple.com>, "'Karl Groves'" <karl.groves@ssbbartgroup.com>
Cc: "'Andrew Sidwell'" <w3c@andrewsidwell.co.uk>, <public-html@w3.org>, "'W3C WAI-XTECH'" <wai-xtech@w3.org>, <wai-liaison@w3.org>, "'HTML4All'" <list@html4all.org>, "'Matt Morgan-May'" <mattmay@adobe.com>
Message-ID: <008501c8bf8f$0052bcf0$6d01a8c0@stanford.edu>

Maciej Stachowiak wrote:
> 
> Word Wide Web traffic is widely believed to follow a power law
> distribution (looking at the "reach" statistics for the top 100 sites
> is consistent with this hypothesis). This means that the top few sites
> likely get as much traffic as the remaining 165 million combined. Keep
> in mind also that flickr is a site with billions of pages. It is clear
> that by any measure, photo sharing is one of the most popular
> activities on the Web. Only search, video sharing, social networking
> (which very often includes an aspect of photo sharing), blogging (also
> sometimes including an aspect of photosharing) and online shopping
> appear to be more or equally popular, as far as one can tell from the
> most popular sites and their reach. If one of the most popular
> activities on the internet is an "edge case", then what would you
> consider to be a valid use case?

Given that "photo sharing" is one of the most popular activities on the
internet, all the more reason to not leave open the door that suggests that
sometimes an image without @alt is "conformant".  The constant refrain from
the working group is that this would be a rare instance, yet you now suggest
that it will be the majority, and not a rare instance at all.  If 10 of the
top 100 websites on the WWW have this magic get-out-of-jail-free card then
surely others will seek to claim the same status.  The precedent being
suggested here is staggering.  This is supposed to "help" accessibility?

> 
> No, that's not the real issue. Accessibility standards are a means to
> an end, not an end in itself. The real issue is: what HTML document
> conformance requirements are likely to lead to the best accessibility
> outcomes, considering all the use cases and possible unintended
> consequences and second-order effects?

Exactly!!  What unintended consequences and second-order effects do you
think will emerge once you make @alt optional for a class of sites that
claim "special status"?  One possible outcome will be that more sites will
seek to claim this status, and the overall quantity of images with @alt will
diminish.  This is a real possible outcome, and to suggest otherwise is
simply disingenuous. More and more, we are seeing a new way of "publishing"
to the web that removes any actual "coding" by the content author: CMS tools
such as Drupal and Joomla (which have embedded editors such as Tiny MCE or
FKCEditor), wikis and their kin, and social networking sites such as MySpace
and Facebook.  If all of these "sites" and authoring methods get to claim
"special" status because they have the author upload images (be it 1, or
3,000 vacation photos), where goes accessibility, and how exactly is this a
benefit?


> Several ways to mark in image in such a manner have been proposed. The
> current spec draft proposes:
> 
> <img src="photo.jpg">

Which significant numbers are rejecting as not acceptable so far.  Can we
accept that as a truth? (Or do we need to conduct a public campaign and
gather more dissenting voices to "prove a point"?)

> 
> Other alternatives that have been proposed:
> 
> <img src="photo.jpg" noalt>
> <img src="photo.jpg" importantimage="importantimage">
> <img src="photo.jpg" alt="">
> <img src="photo.jpg" alt="*">
> <img src="photo.jpg" alt="_">
> <img src="photo.jpg" alt=" ">
> 

Interestingly, 4 of the 6 above maintain @alt (and  fifth uses alt, as in
"noalt").  You also left out the possibility of reserved values for @alt, or
my suggestion that should an <img> have one of a possible many means of
directly associating a textual equivalent to an image that conformance could
be considered - if @alt is not the best solution in a given scenario, is
there a different solution that could/would work besides just saying "leave
out the @alt"?

Once the WG comes to the conclusion that optional @alt as proposed is a
non-starter and starts really discussing a different approach, this debate
will continue to churn and go round-and-round 'till the cows come home.
There have been many off-line comments within the working group about
"dogma" emerging from the accessibility camp, but the responses from the
other side are equally immobile and dogmatic - simply stating that <img
src=""> will improve accessibility will not make it true, no matter how many
times you say it.

> 
> They are relevant to whether the use case of embedding images where
> alternative content is not available is important to consider. If you
> agree that it is, then I agree there is no need to debate the matter.

In this there is total agreement.  The current proposed method is not
acceptable, let's agree to that and start real dialogue on a better way
forward shall we?

JF
Received on Tuesday, 27 May 2008 00:18:08 GMT

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