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RE: Is Flickr an Edge Case? (was Re: HTML Action Item 54)

From: John Foliot <foliot@wats.ca>
Date: Tue, 27 May 2008 17:05:06 -0700
To: "'L. David Baron'" <dbaron@dbaron.org>
Cc: "'Maciej Stachowiak'" <mjs@apple.com>, "'Karl Groves'" <karl.groves@ssbbartgroup.com>, "'Andrew Sidwell'" <w3c@andrewsidwell.co.uk>, <public-html@w3.org>, "'W3C WAI-XTECH'" <wai-xtech@w3.org>, <wai-liaison@w3.org>, "'HTML4All'" <list@html4all.org>, "'Matt Morgan-May'" <mattmay@adobe.com>
Message-ID: <012301c8c056$7d03ca60$6d01a8c0@stanford.edu>

L. David Baron wrote:
> So you're saying that you prefer people litter their meaningful
> images with alt="" so that it's harder to distingush the meaningful
> ones without useful alternate text from those that are purely
> decorative?   

No, I have not said that, and have never said that.  

What I am saying is that the specification should not be written to remove
the need for alternative text at *THE SPECIFICATION LEVEL*.  That some users
will abuse this goes without question, and a method to reduce the abuse
should also be discussed.  However an image without *any* means of directly
attaching meaningful textual content should not be considered conformant at
the technical level - full stop.  It may still "work" in visual browsers,
but it should not be deemed conformant, just as Google pages "work" but are
not conformant to current HTML/XHTML specifications, due to the lack of a

If you have been following this larger discussion at all you would also know
that in fact I have even mused aloud about the possibility of relaxing the
absolute mandate for @alt *SO LONG* as an alternative to @alt is in place.

I am less concerned about methodology than I am with results, and making
@alt optional in "rare" circumstances (like on ten of the top 100 websites
out there) flies in the face of a reasonable solution - it is a non-solution
that simply solves (absolves?) the problem for one group of people without
addressing the real needs of another group of people, despite protestations
to the contrary.

> Would you agree that something like alt="[PHOTO]" or alt="[IMAGE]"
> would be better for users in  that case than alt=""? 

Yes, although perhaps not exactly like that.  I had proposed the idea of
some reserved values back in October 2007, each starting with an underscore
(alt="_decorative", alt="_none", etc.) that could be used in scenarios
where, as in the photo upload instance, it is problematic (not impossible,
but problematic) to provide meaningful @alt to a large volume of images.  It
does not totally solve the problem, but it *does* ensure that @alt remains
as a requirement for conformant HTML 5.
I personally am open to exploring any number of alternatives beyond the
currently proposed "nothing" that an optional @alt affords.
[W3C wiki: http://tinyurl.com/2v9c6f]

> If so, would you agree that it's worth standardizing what should be
> used to mark such a case rather than having authors pick "[IMAGE]" or
> "[PHOTO]" or their own variant?  

Yes.  Would you agree that [] is useless?  

Would you further agree that:
<sucking wind sound>

</sucking wind sound>
... Is also useless, because that in effect is what you get when you have no
@alt or equivalent.  

There is no disagreement that there is currently a problem - it is the
proposed non-solution that is under debate.  We can and must do better than
what is currently proposed.

Received on Wednesday, 28 May 2008 00:06:02 UTC

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