Re: Unready and social engineering Re: [html4all] several messages about alt

On Apr 14, 2008, at 09:49, Charles McCathieNevile wrote:
> On Mon, 14 Apr 2008 02:44:02 +0200, Dannii <>  
> wrote:
>> On Mon, Apr 14, 2008 at 1:33 AM, Leif Halvard Silli  
>> <> wrote:
>>> Those are different evaluation axes. But experience has shown us  
>>> that the only validation that authors care about is the general  
>>> CSS and HTML stamps.
> Hmmm. Experience shows that there are people who care about other  
> stamps, including accessibility ones. It also shows comprehensively  
> that all of these together are still, with teh Web almost two  
> decades old, things that only a small minority of developers care  
> about.

However, caring about getting a badge too often is caring about  
getting a badge--not caring about accessibility. Seeking to exploit  
people's desire to brag with a badge leads to them gaming a validator  
to get a badge (see A List Apart articles about custom DTDs, etc.). It  
doesn't magically make them author pages that are actually accessible.

See also:

>>> Therefore, we must (continue to) incorporate social consciousness  
>>> into the general stamping tools.
> Henri and others have made it clear that they do not think the  
> necessity for this is clearly established. So at the very least  
> there is no consensus on this point.

I try to be socially conscious about what kind of behaviors induces. In this case, I don't want it to induce  
information loss by people stuffing bogus placeholders into alt in  
order to silence the validator. After all, it is clear that requiring  
alt would induce that behavior. It isn't clear that syntactically  
requiring alt would cause people to write non-bogus alt text when they  
already wouldn't otherwise. And conversely, it's not like people who  
care about accessibility stopped caring about it if alt weren't a  
*syntactic* requirement.

> Again, this is anecdotal, based largely on the sites I use everyday  
> or every month, but it really is a significant level of change.  
> Almost none of those sites actually claim conformance to  
> accessibility guidelines (and nor should they since the generally  
> still have major problems) but they have all made substantial  
> progress towards being able to do so. Additionally, the ability to  
> provide alt has become far more widespread - although there are  
> still glaring examples of failure in this area there are also far  
> more tools that have improved their "level of conformance" to ATAG  
> [1] and similar requirements.

Did this change because accessibility advocates *talked to people*  
about why alt is needed or because validators whined at people about  
missing alt and stopped when *any* alt was provided?

>> 4. That the stamp wouldn't be used in more cases than intended. Yes  
>> it's
>> intended for CMS', but what's to stop it being used on any pages  
>> where the author is too lazy to add alt attributes?
> Nothing - so we should be realistic about the use cases for any  
> stamp, and reckon on the overall cost/benefit from this. Ian asked  
> elsewhere what would be the benefit in making a private email  
> between himself and his partner non-conforming, but equally it could  
> be asked what possible benefit is tehre to them in knowing that  
> their private email *is* conforming? In either case I suspect the  
> answer is "none whatesoever", so looking at the cost becomes  
> worthwhile...

Validating the email you send isn't a particularly useful activity,  
but a email app vendor may still want their QA to check that the  
output of their program matches the spec. I think HTML should focus on  
Web pages, though.

Henri Sivonen

Received on Monday, 14 April 2008 08:14:13 UTC