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Re: ensuring the existence & enhancing the power of Q

From: Henri Sivonen <hsivonen@iki.fi>
Date: Tue, 3 Apr 2007 10:35:41 +0300
Message-Id: <31BB6D22-07C6-4D52-8CF4-F4B6EC584822@iki.fi>
To: HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>

On Apr 3, 2007, at 01:41, Ian Hickson wrote:

> On Tue, 3 Apr 2007, Henri Sivonen wrote:
>> With author-provided punctuation as text content.
> Just dropping <q> altogether would lose the ability to style  
> quotes, which I've done and think is valuable,

Do you mean changing the quotation marks with CSS or applying other  
stylistic properties to make quotes stand out? I think changing the  
quotation marks with CSS is an esoteric use case considering the  
author population as a whole. Considering the inconsistent  
implementations of <q>, using a <span> would probably be safer if you  
want to apply other stylistic properties for presentational effect.

> as well as losing the ability to link quotes to sources (cite=""),  
> which can be quite useful too.

Authors can express the source of the quotation in the surrounding  
text as they would when writing for paper. When writing for the Web,  
they can make the relevant part of the surrounding text a link (plain  
<a href='...'>) to the source if the source is a Web resource.

Compared to cite='', this makes the link discoverable and followable  
in existing browsers. Non-heuristic data mining tools would lose the  
association between the quoted text and the source URI, but I'm yet  
to see a killer app that would justify the trouble of expressing this  

> <q> is used quite a lot on the Web, is it really worth dropping  
> altogether?

Personally, I've never been convinced about the worthiness of <q> in  
the first place. I see it as a bad example from ISO 8879 Annex C. 
1.1.2 that has made its way into HTML. C.1.3.3 shows that the  
motivation for inline quote markup was working around the limitations  
of ASCII or ASCII-oriented input methods. It seems to me that a  
presentational input method workaround has been glorified as a  
semantic element.

As for dropping it, unlike <samp> and <font>, <q> is not  
interoperably implemented in the top four engines, so <q> is actually  
a more reasonable candidate for getting dropped.

Henri Sivonen
Received on Tuesday, 3 April 2007 07:41:22 UTC

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