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Re: Proposing <indent> vs. <blockquote>

From: Bruce Boughton <bruce@bruceboughton.me.uk>
Date: Thu, 12 Apr 2007 04:03:35 +0100
Message-ID: <461DA187.6030903@bruceboughton.me.uk>
To: Mike Schinkel <w3c-lists@mikeschinkel.com>
CC: public-html@w3.org

Mike Schinkel wrote:
> Bruce Boughton wrote:
>> I think abuse of blockquote is so deeply engrained that, even if we 
>> introduced an indent element, it wouldn't be used.  [..]
> I strongly disagree, if not the least because one can more easily 
> remember <indent> whereas remembering CSS syntax is only for those who 
> have taken the time to learn CSS, i.e. professional web developers.
> Consider this; if your statement above was relevant then why has so 
> much content been developed since CSS was made available that uses 
> <blockquote> with incorrect semantics? (I'd love to hear Hixie's take 
> on this as he often claims knowledge of such statistics.)
Perhaps you are right.  However, I think these people are unlikely to 
take the time to notice that HTML5 adds an indent element.  Of course, 
this is a blanket statement, but I think on the whole it will be the case.
>> In short: IMHO, lazy/ignorant people will still be lazy/ignorant 
>> regardless of how easy you make this.  
> Why are you making value judgments of people?  There are many non-lazy 
> and non-ignorant people who are at tops of their fields and who want 
> to contribute content but who don't have time to learn the arcanity of 
> CSS.  Let's stick to the discuss please.
Indeed! I did not mean to suggest that they are lazy or ignorant in all 
walks of life; only with respect to web standards.
> I think this is "the elitist" vs. "for everyman" argument.  I believe 
> HTML should be very approachable by as many people as possible; others 
> (like you?) want it to be usable able by the learned.  
No I don't.  However, I think we should try to keep HTML as 
deterministic as possible.  Wherever possible there should be a right 
way to do something, rather than 3 or 4 alternatives.  I think this 
makes the language easier for newcomers.  Syntactic sugar such as 
<indent> only serves to offset the stumbling block (CSS) till a slightly 
later time, IMHO, though clearly you disagree.
> Fundamentally we need to decide which set of values will drive HTML 
> development because debating technical issues where we have yet to 
> establish common ground regarding the underlying values will only 
> cause us to go round in circles.
>> It's not exactly complicated at the moment!  Indentation is purely 
>> presentational (unless you can provide a use case where there is 
>> semantic meaning to indentation), so belongs to CSS.
> It is very complicated for someone who doesn't know CSS, such as the 
> vast majority of bloggers who do know basic HTML but don't know CSS.  
> If social media were not emerging as rapidly and pervasively as it is, 
> my position might not have the same relevance but the number of people 
> coding HTML that don't know CSS will soon far eclipse those who do, if 
> it hasn't already.
You are probably correct, but I would qualify that as "the number of 
people coding non-compliant HTML".. they are not going to notice a new 
indent element in HTML5 anyway.  They may be using a WYSIWYG tool, in 
which case the tool can enforce indentation via CSS.

I think if you take this argument to its logical conclusion, you will 
end up arguing for <b> and <i>.  If that is so, then this segment of 
authors should be content with HTML4 and below.  HTML5 will introduce 
new semantic elements (ala XHTML2) and I don't think this is the right 
time to pander to poor (w.r.t standards) authoring.

Bruce Boughton
Received on Thursday, 12 April 2007 03:04:14 UTC

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