RE: HTML Action Item 54 - ...draft text for HTML 5 spec to require producers/authors to include @alt on img elements.

Sam –

Not bonkers in the slightest, from the aspect of “semantic Web". If there are swaths of the spec which cannot be machine-verified, or which are easy (sometimes, even advantageous) to use inappropriately (but still schema-correct), then let’s get rid of this goal of “semantic Web” now, and let’s get rid of the “accessibility” goal. Plain and simple, if the semantics of the document cannot be determined accurately and reliably the vast majority of the time, those two goals are impossible.

We have a binary choice:

1) Retain the inclusion of <p>, <h1>, and other “semantic” elements. Of course, none of them are anything other than <div>, <span>, etc. with a semantic meaning associated with them in the spec, and an unspoken default styling that the browser vendors have all agreed upon.
2) Remove the “semantic” elements, and only use <div>, <span>, etc. with ARIA (or ARIA-like) descriptors to indicate their semantic purpose (for example: <div purpose=”paragraph”> to replace <p>).

If we are going to go with choice #1, fine. In that case, I propose that we DUMP @alt, and replace it with a million permutations that are specific, like, “@alt_click”, “@transcript”, an  whatever else we think would be appropriate. After all, if we can have a bunch of variants of <div>, <span>, etc. all meant to provide semantic value (with no way of validating the correct usage), then why not start doing the same with attributes too?

But if we go with option #2, now we are looking at a system that makes a heck of a lot more sense, and forces HTML authors (both human and automated) to carefully consider what they are doing. If you make everything a “semantic-less” tag, with 1 or 2 attributes (ARIA, or something like it) that are *required*, then it means that the semantics and the styling are (finally!) fully separated, as the goal has been since HTML 4.


From: [] On Behalf Of Sam Kuper
Sent: Friday, May 09, 2008 10:37 AM
To: Justin James
Subject: Re: HTML Action Item 54 - ...draft text for HTML 5 spec to require producers/authors to include @alt on img elements.

2008/5/9 Justin James <>:
Anything that cannot be machine-checked should not be in the spec.


This is bonkers. Large parts of the spec can't be machine-checked. How can a machine detect whether text in a <p> element is being used as a heading, for instance? I could go on listing cases, but I won't.

I think you may be confusing a schema (something for computers to use to assess validity) with a specification (something for humans to use as guidance when writing code or markup for computers).

Best regards,


Received on Friday, 9 May 2008 17:15:50 UTC