W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > February 2008

Re: ISSUE-34 (commonality): Can we get access to tools that determine how often markup is used on the web?

From: Karl Groves <karl.groves@ssbbartgroup.com>
Date: Fri, 15 Feb 2008 06:59:41 -0800 (PST)
To: James Graham <jg307@cam.ac.uk>
Cc: HTML Issue Tracking WG <public-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <15926842.51011203087581738.JavaMail.root@mail.ff44a.com>

----- "James Graham" <jg307@cam.ac.uk> wrote:

> Karl Groves wrote:
> > ----- "James Graham" <jg307@cam.ac.uk> wrote:
> >
> >   
> >> Such tools clearly exist; it's just a web crawler + a html parser
> +
> >> some 
> >> code for querying the resuts and producing a summary. Philip Taylor
> >> wrote one based on the validator.nu parser for example. I don't
> know
> >> if 
> >> it's currently avaliable for other people to run though.
> >> That would indeed be useful.
> >>     
> >
> > I know I'm likely a tad late to this discussion and missing out on
> the history and basis of this Issue, but I would like to question the
> value (or impact) of this exercise.  I would hope that our decisions
> to add/ keep/ remove an element or attribute from the recommendation
> would be driven solely by the usefulness that item has to the end
> user.   The use (or lack thereof), misuse, or abuse of an element or
> attribute should be given very little weight, imo, when considering
> how to move forward.
> >   
> These issues are intimately entwined. An element that is never used in
> the correct way has no value to the user, despite the best intentions
> of 
> spec authors.

In that case, perhaps ADDRESS, CITE, COLGROUP, LABEL, and any of the other myriad of unused/ misused elements should be deprecated as well. I realize this is a bit of a slippery slope, but in my line of work, I get to see firsthand the markup from many different companies and government agencies.  In addition, we have an internal tool we've developed which parses HTML documents for accessibility errors.  I've also developed a spider which does primarily the same thing (the previously mentioned tool operates on uploaded source).  In all three cases, the biggest issues we find relate to things like missing alt attributes, missing labels for forms, and missing table headers. 

Naturally, the context we're applying these checks are geared toward finding accessibility issues, but it illustrates the point that if we were to guide our decisions of whether to keep/ delete an element or attribute solely on what web authors are doing, we'd be taking the wrong approach which may also have negative effects upon some specific populations of users.

I agree with you that "An element that is never used in the correct way has no value to the user", but I disagree that this should necessitate modifying the spec to merely do away with items which have real value.  Improper markup is the developer's fault, not HTML's. At some point, the developer needs to take responsibility for his own shortcomings.

Karl Groves
Senior Accessibility Consultant
703.637.8961 (o) 
443.889.8763 (c)
Received on Friday, 15 February 2008 15:24:36 UTC

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