W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html-a11y@w3.org > May 2012

Re: Issue 31c: Meta generator

From: Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net>
Date: Wed, 16 May 2012 07:58:07 -0400
Message-ID: <4FB3964F.9080203@intertwingly.net>
To: Judy Brewer <jbrewer@w3.org>
CC: HTML WG <public-html.w3.org@w3.org>, HTML Accessibility Task Force <public-html-a11y@w3.org>
On 05/02/2012 02:28 AM, Judy Brewer wrote:
> Paul, Sam, Maciej, All,
> Please find an updated re-open request and change proposal for 
> Issue31c:Meta Generator at the following URI:
> http://www.w3.org/html/wg/wiki/ChangeProposals/Issue31cMetaGenerator
> This proposal requests reconsideration of the portion of the Issue-31 
> decision which allows missing alt to be conforming when the meta 
> generator flag is present, and identifies deficiencies in the 
> specification of the "generator" value.

The HTML WG co-chairs have evaluated this request and are not choosing 
to reopen this issue at this time.

    Overall Summary:


    Identification of explicit harm or actual benefits, rather than
    implicit harm or presumed benefits, would likely be sufficient to
    reopen the issue in combination with the "magic semantics" argument.


    A number of points made in the original decision
    apply to this reopen request:

      o No evidence was provided that more inaccessible content would be
        created if the generator exemption is allowed than otherwise. So
        this was taken to be a weak objection.
      o If supported by concrete evidence, this would have been a strong
        objection. This seems like a plausible authoring mistake which
        would have negative consequences. But it was weakened by lack of
        any specific evidence that this problem has actually occurred in
      o the claim of negative consequences to disallowing this use case
        was somewhat weakened by the lack of concrete evidence that
        bogus values have been used in the past or would be used in the
      o This should be enough time to see at least anecdotal evidence of
        the claimed problem.


Potentially worth considering:

  * Magic Semantics

      o Summary: And as a document author, from reading the spec, it is
        not at all clear to me from reading the spec that if I keep a
        meta generator element that has been added by any tool in the
        production or evaluation process, anywhere in any document, it
        means that I am choosing to completely opt out of having
        conformance checkers emit any error messages about missing
        alternative text for any img elements in the document
      o Analysis: while we disagree that this is poorly documented in
        the spec (it seems spelled out pretty clearly), we agree that it
        is certainly a surprising semantic for to have such a dramatic
        effect on document conformance. We do believe this is new
        information, as surprisingness to authors was not previously
        raised. That being said, even if it were not rebutted, this
        argument would not be strong enough by itself to have materially
        changed the decision, but in combination with other points may
        be worth considering.

Probably not sufficient in its current form, but potentially could be 


    inequitable rendering of graphical content

      o Summary: For web content to be independent of presentation, both
        the src attribute and the alt attribute are necessary for
        images. Omit the src attribute, and sighted users have no
        content; Omit text alternatives, and non-sighted users have no
      o Analysis: This replaces prior statement of "complete structure"
        and represents a notable improvement; that being said this is
        (a) merely an assertion provided without evidence (citing the
        actual problems caused with existing tools would be helpful),
        and (b) likely is not a point that is in dispute.

    The "generator exception" obviates the intent of the Validator

      o Summary: In the presence of the generator exception, the
        validator suppresses error identification, and is thereby
        stripped of its educative benefits. If content developers are
        not aware that a problem (missing alternative text) exists, they
        are not notified about it, nor do they have the opportunity to
        rectify specific instances of missing alternative text.
      o Analysis: Presents an argument based on presumed benefits and
        instead of citing actual benefits.

    Sufficient evidence of harm to end-users is implicit in arguments
    supporting the generator exception

      o Summary: Inexplicably this was taken as non-evident despite
        widespread understanding that alternative text is necessary to
        ensure accessibility of images on the web for people who cannot see.
      o Analysis: Explicit identification of how this would change even
        one CMS's behavior would be much stronger than statements about
        "implicit" assumptions of harm.

Not likely to be sufficient for reopening:


    Fatal ambiguity in the specification

      o Summary: spec does not define what a "hand-authored" page is,
        and the definition of that term is not obvious
      o Analysis: we agree the spec could be more explicit about what
        counts as hand-authors. Pointing out the ambiguity is a new
        point and arguably new information. However, it seems to us this
        is an issue that could very well be raised separately as a bug.
        Because of this, we do not believe it merits reopening the issue.

    The "generator exception" inappropriately gives authoring tool
    conformance considerations precedence over end-user requirements

      o Summary: whether or not an author was prompted for alt does not
        change the fact that the end-user requires it, and that the
        generator exception will interfere with determining whether of
        not the resulting document contains it.
      o Analysis: not new information or a new argument. The points and
        counterpoints here were made in the survey and considered in the

    weighting of objections against the "generator exception" is

      o Summary: The primary criteria suggested by the HTML Co-Chairs to
        explain the low weighting of objections to the generator
        exception was repeated assertions of insufficient evidence; yet
        inaccurate assertions regarding authoring production processes
        on which the generator exception was originally based were
        apparently accepted without evidence
      o Analysis: This objection needs to cite specifics. Additionally,
        this is not a matter of arithmetic: the goal of the process is
        to identify the strongest objection. From the original decision:
          + Overall, there were many claimed disadvantages that flow
            from the generator exception, ranging from weak to
            moderately weak. They were generally unsupported by details
            or concrete evidence. Even though the use case for omitting
            alt when the generator mechanism is used was disputed and
            only found to be a medium objection, it still outweighs
            these claimed disadvantages, as they were all found to be
            weak or moderately weak.

    The "generator exception" breaks harmonization with other standards
    and guidelines

      o Summary: This disagreement indicates a problem that cannot be
        solved as the HTML Co-Chairs seem to suggest by updating
        numerous other standards and guidelines, but that must rather be
        solved by removing the "generator" exception in HTML5 that has
        introduced this disharmonization.
      o Analysis: If there is evidence on which the other standards have
        been based that needs to be brought forward, then do so. Simply
        citing a difference and making an assertion as to which is in
        error is not sufficient. Also from the original decision:
          + it's clear that there are tools which do not follow ATAG in
            this respect, and no evidence was provided that this would

- Sam Ruby
Received on Wednesday, 16 May 2012 11:58:42 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.4.0 : Friday, 17 January 2020 19:56:07 UTC