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[Bug 6606] generic 3rd-party <mark>, Smart Tags, and Accelerators prevention

From: <bugzilla@wiggum.w3.org>
Date: Sun, 11 Oct 2009 22:05:44 +0000
To: public-html-bugzilla@w3.org
Message-Id: <E1Mx6Xw-0005wA-DF@wiggum.w3.org>

--- Comment #22 from Nick Levinson <Nick_Levinson@yahoo.com>  2009-10-11 22:05:44 ---
> I disagree with the premise of the request ?" [sic]
> user agents should be allowed to render things however
> they like, so long as it is consistent with the
> document's semantics.

f the spec were to require consistency with semantics, that would help, but
secton 11 (formerly 10) lets them off of that hook. It only expects; it doesn't
require semantic consistency.

> This [rendering conformant with the author's intent
> except as the user otherwise chooses] is already
> required by the spec.

Section 11 makes it an expectation, not a requirement, creating a loophole in
standards compliance and, I think, overcoming section 2.

>> [From my proposal to amend section 2.2:]
>> [". . . .] User agents must not assume the user's
>> intent except to the extent otherwise chosen by the
>> user.[ . . . . ."]

> I have no idea how one would test this.

A UA needn't know (test for) the difference; it could simply default. And it
could use local history to assume more about a user's wishes. Forms shouldn't
be edited according to a UA's assumptions about what a user would like, such as
by gratuitously filling in fields or editing spelling. Not every spelling
correction is itself correct, and it can change meanings.

I'm anticipating because that's already done in a word processor and the same
manufacturer's UAs already add content to websites as received without
distinguishing ownership or asking the site owners. While MS Word isn't a Web
app, MS makes browsers that add apparent content to what users perceive, and MS
Word used to have an author field it auto-filled without my even knowing about
it, and which I had to empty every time I did a save-as lest my copyright be
jeopardized (it was at a public terminal and MS declared the computer owner as
the author of my work). So I anticipate MS will start filling in some forms
without telling us, if it suits their advertisers.

I probably shouldn't have used the word "otherwise". If that's what's throwing
you off, that's my fault. The point is that a user should decide what a user
puts into a form. An autofill feature should be under the user's opt-in

>> "Interactivity must be rendered so that the user
>> sees the state of all interactive controls before
>> any change resulting from interactivity.[ . . . ."]

> That doesn't seem compatible with what pages rely on.

Pages rely on a user's input, including a user's acceptance of a default. UA
designers who believe they can add features to a page as the user receives it,
e.g., double-underlining to signify another owner's content, presumably can
fill in forms as if the user wanted that done, also without asking. The page
form author determines a default state; the UA shouldn't assume that a user
wants another state before the user has rejected the page author's default, nor
should the UA accept a form without the user affirmatively accepting the form.

>> "With respect to such rendering . . ., each such
>> choice by a user shall be clear to the user even
>> if the user is an ordinary user.[ . . . ."]

> I have no idea what this means.

Subtleties have gone too far, in that most users can't tell the difference
between the website and the UA's overlay, and thus between different owners'
content, but think it's all part of the website. That should be banned, and the
ownership distinguished so the user knows, even if the user lacks an advanced
understanding of Web design.

>> [". . . .] Considering the user as an individual,
>> if such a choice [of page or form rendering] is made
>> by an individual other than the user or, if permitted
>> under this specification, by the user agent, each such
>> choice and the distinction from the absence of all such
>> choices shall be clear to the user even if the user is
>> an ordinary user. A user agent's capability to make each
>> such choice clear must not be capable of being
>> disabled.[ . . . ."]

> What is this trying to say?

If an intermediary, such as a computer provider who lets the public use it or
an employer, or a UA makes choices, the user should know, and the ability of
the UA to tell the user should not be susceptible to being turned off. Choices
that are not made by the user or the website owner should be clear to the user,
but sometimes they're not, and that shouldn't be allowed.

>> "Submission of a form must be with the postcompletion
>> consent of the user treated as an ordinary user. Such
>> postcompletion is after completion or operation of one
>> or more controls or, if completion or operation of
>> every control is optional, after an opportunity to,
>> at the user's immediate option, manually complete or
>> operate or autocomplete or auto-operate all controls
>> even if none are completed or operated.[ . . . ."]

> I seriously have no idea whatsoever what this means.

The UA shouldn't assume what we want to do with a form. Users decide. The UA
should only carry out the user's decision or else the UA should not do

>> "An ordinary user is an individual or other user
>> who has only minimal knowledge of the sum of how
>> computers, user agents, networking, the Internet,
>> the World Wide Web, websites, scripts, markup,
>> HTML, XHTML, and styles work. The ordinary user
>> may have more than minimal knowledge, and may have
>> great knowledge in noncomputer subjects, but must
>> not be expected to. For example, almost no ordinary
>> user has knowledge of any relevant promulgated
>> standards but may instead base their knowledge on
>> limited practical experience with one user agent
>> and various websites without knowing which ones are
>> standards-compliant and which are not.[ . . . ."]

> It seems highly unusual to write conformance criteria
> which depend on the education of the user.

Yes, but HTML5 does recommend clarity to the user in two sections. What's clear
to a user depends on the user's education.

"When the ping attribute is present, user agents should clearly indicate to the
user that following the hyperlink will also cause . . . ." Section
(hyperlink auditing).

"This specification does not specify how to distinguish between the main
content of a document and content that is not deemed to be part of that main
content. The distinction should be made clear to the user. . . . . In this case
the license applies to just the photo (the main content of the document), not
the whole document. In particular not the design of the page itself, which is
covered by the copyright given at the bottom of the document. This could be
made clearer in the styling (e.g. making the license link prominently
positioned near the photograph, while having the page copyright in light small
text at the foot of the page." Section (link type license).

While both HTML 5 and 4.01 say little about being clear to a user, much of the
semanticism and the requirement that page authors stay within semantic
boundaries would seem to serve only three major purposes in cases where a UA
otherwise would render semantically-violating elements identically: clarity to
search engine indexers and, when CSS is supported appropriately, clarity to
nondsabled users and clarity to users with disabilities.

>> [". . . .] Because many websites that are
>> frequented by ordinary users have a variety of
>> appearances not specifically sanctioned by any
>> publicly disseminated standards or
>> specifications, an ordinary user must not be
>> expected to know that a new design has a new
>> meaning, unless that new meaning is clearly
>> explained to that user at the time of exposure
>> or soon before. [. . . ."]

> I guess this is saying "Users might not understand
> things they haven't seen before"? If so, that seems
> obvious and it would not be necessary for us to say
> it explicitly.

It's saying more. When ownership of apparent content requires advanced
computeracy to discern, a browser maker and its advertisers can mislead and
open up to fraud. In effect, we're getting misattribution of Web content
through double-underlining and context menu additions because users aren't
being educated about these little things that make all the difference, and the
UA maker should have the burden of explaining the differences or not
implementing them, unless the website owner wants them.

Subtlety is relative to knowledge. Under an ordinary-user norm of
understanding, IE8 Accelerators would be noncompliant.

Of course, innovation is generally good and users should learn more about using
the Web. But new users are legion and will be for years, and many or most users
are infrequent or specialized in what they do online and so we have to accept
that most users don't have advanced sensitivities to how Web design stands. UAs
should not treat them as vessels for other agendas.

>> [". . . . .] An ordinary user must not be
>> expected to be familiar with computer or user
>> agent features, including features that provide
>> help and menu commands, since, for ordinary users,
>> many such features may have been disabled or
>> placed beyond reach by an institution permitting
>> use of a computer. [. . . ."]

> This is definitely out of scope for the HTML5 specification.

Usability is important not only because unusable sites tend to be abandoned and
fail their purposes, but also because subtlety is being employed to hold users
by misleading them about whose content they're looking at.

HTML correctly imposes requirements on page authors. It may also impose on UA
designers as to rendering for usability. Not allowing help to be disabled would
be an example.

>> "Absent such a choice by a user, for all documents
>> having the same HTML markup such a rendering shall
>> be uniform over time across all such documents
>> regardless of website and for all documents
>> lacking any HTML markup such a rendering shall be
>> uniform over time across all such documents
>> regardless of website."

> I don't understand what value this adds to the
> specification.

Consistency. A UA couldn't favor some sites or times over other sites or times.
That prevents their getting around the main restrictions by a claim that every
site or session is unique.

> If you disagree with this, please escalate this
> to the working group chairs.

I will consider your suggestion.

Thank you.


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Received on Sunday, 11 October 2009 22:05:46 UTC

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