W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > July 2009

Re: Nothing is really hidden

From: Shelley Powers <shelley.just@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 2 Jul 2009 15:35:43 -0500
Message-ID: <643cc0270907021335v7f8e8e7fubd6c32446c59e0b0@mail.gmail.com>
To: Justin James <j_james@mindspring.com>
Cc: HTMLWG WG <public-html@w3.org>, www-archive <www-archive@w3.org>
>> If the term is called 'hidden', or 'in reality seen by very few'
>> matters little to me. Ultimately what matters is that very few
>> authors/QAs do look at it, and that the result of that is that the
>> data is often out of date or unhelpful.
> I agree. I feel that this thread has done nothing but make a mountain our of
> a molehill. Many (if not most) people on this list call certain types of
> data "hidden" by virtue of the fact that the typical Web user with a typical
> Web browser will most likely never see it (metadata fields), or if it is not
> there, they will probably never notice it (like the little lock icon
> denoting SSL encryption). This entire thread hinges around a bugaboo about a
> piece of linguistic shortcut. Everyone on this list know that no data is
> ever truly "hidden", and we all know that there is a good amount of data
> that is "visible" to users of certain tools (particularly accessibility
> tools, non browser UAs, etc.) that the typical user with a typical Web
> browser will never see.

That's not what Jonas said. He was talking about summary, not the
usefulness of this thread. Jonas has been an excellent participant in
the thread, so I think he finds it at least nominally useful or

> Quite honestly, this thread and many like it lately, feel almost vindictive.
> Like, "I'm angry with the development of HTML 5, so I'm going to tie up the
> mailing list splitting hairs." When the folks who want to work on HTML 6
> mine this mailing list trying to find out the underlying logic behind HTML
> 5, would we *really* be proud to have our names on these emails?

There was nothing angry or vindictive about this thread.

This was a perfectly legitimate email to make, it is about the
specification, it is about understanding the mindset and attitudes
that govern people's decisions about so-called "hidden" attributes and
elements, and the results are, I think, enlightening.

There have been willing participants, who are engaged, have given
their views, and we have all been polite and open with each other.

Understanding each other's views is just as important as arguing which
video codec to support or not. More importantly, it helps people
understand where the HTML5 specification may be failing, by not being
inclusive enough. Except rather than rehash the same old thing, I
thought I would try a different avenue of discussion, and I thought it
was successful. Not overly so, but acceptably so.

> In other words, this is a plea to the chairs... can we *please* move on? Do
> we really need to have a nasty discussion over the way some people use
> certain words?

This is not in any way a nasty discussion. Where was there anything
even remotely nasty in this?

>> You stated in another reply in this thread that recent court rulings
>> might make people pay attention to accessibility more in the future. I
>> don't think that will happen. Possibly a few governmental websites
>> will be authored such that they are accessible, but on the whole I
>> don't think courts are going to affect the behavior of the masses.

If you found this thread to be useless, than why did you continue with
the following:

> With the exception of companies (typically only megasized companies) with
> giant legal and compliance departments, government law is not even *known*
> to Web developers by and large, let only adhered to. Who has the time to
> keep track of laws and be able to do their jobs? So yes, don't count on the
> force of the law changing things on a widespread basis.
>> I don't have data to back this up though. So unless someone else does,
>> we'll simply have to wait 10 more years and see.
> No one will ever have data on this, just like we don't have real data on 95%
> of the things we discuss here, and when we *do* have the data, it is not a
> true "study" 95% of the time (note the tongue-in-cheek usage of
> unsubstantiated numbers).
>> I would strongly prefer that we build solutions that fall into what I
>> referred to as category two solutions. I.e. solutions where we don't
>> have to rely on authors specifically authoring for AT users. Someone
>> brought up in a separate thread if it's possible for UAs to auto
>> generate a summary. That sounds like a very interesting idea to me. If
>> we can make something like that possible, then I believe we've helped
>> AT users orders of magnitude more than if we simply stick @summary on
>> <table> again.
>> If that is not possible, then I'm much more interested in a solution
>> like ARIA which is a more comprehensive category 1 solution, rather
>> than the one-off that @summary and @longdesc is. I don't know if
>> there's a reason to think that ARIA will work better than @summary
>> has, but at least I'd imagine it will help make a small set of sites
>> AT friendly (where authors do in fact author for AT users). Which is
>> better than nothing.
> I could not agree more.
> Folks, if you are interesting in usability and accessibility (and I believe
> everyone on this list is), then you need to accept a few truths:
> 1. There is no possible way to force every (or even "many") HTML authors to
> not only provide data for any given attribute or element, but even if you
> could, there is no way to force them to provide useful values.
> 2. The HTML 5 specification, for the most part, will reflect a standardized
> version of the state of the art amongst Web browsers. Ian has made it
> perfectly clear that existing implementations carry an extremely high
> premium compared to non-implemented ideas (this is what he refers to as "dry
> science fiction"). If you do not like it, you have a few recourses:
>   2a: Wait until HTML 6
>   2b: Start editing sections of work yourself and check it into the system;
> Ian has been begging for help anyways for literally years
>   2c: Write an implementation of it (I suggest you fork one of the existing
> open source browsers) and present it to the group
>   2d: Work with a browser vendor to have them implement it and present it
> to the group
>   2e: Work to have Ian replaced as the editor
> There really are no other options. You can work within the framework of this
> group according to the process that Ian says he uses (regardless of what
> various charters, W3C documents, etc. say), you can wait until the next
> version, or you can find a way to get an editor with a different process.
> End of story. But to continue to waste my time and the time of everyone else
> on this list complaining about the process is worse than a waste of time. It
> actively drives people away from participating on this list. Again, think
> about what these archives will look like in 10 years: a bunch of people
> complaining about the process instead of trying to improve the product.
> Every place I worked that ran like that never made good products, nor did
> they ever have good processes.
> 3. Anything done for the sake of accessibility needs to meet certain
> criteria:
>   3a: Actually be a good way to solve the problem it addresses
>   3b: Be implemented in a way that encourages HTML authors to use it
> appropriately
>   3c: Not be implemented in a way that allows HTML authors to "hijack" it
> for other purposes or use it incorrectly or inappropriately
> My understanding of the @longdesc situation, for example, is that Ian does
> not feel that it meets 3a or 3b, and that @summary is not working on 3c (he
> says "polluted"). On the flip side, ARIA meets 3a, 3b, AND 3c. It's a winner
> from where I sit.

Whoa! Whoa! Where did all of this come from?

First of all, this thread is part of my own research into attempting
to see where the roadblocks in communication are occurring between the
different sides here. One issue that several brought up was their
dislike of "hidden" data -- not just in relation to accessibility, but
semantic metadata too. That seemed a reasonable issue to focus on, and
perhaps open avenues of discussion that are not triggering the usual

And again, though there aren't too many people participating, I
thought it was a good start. I really didn't expect the thread to last
much beyond today, but I already discovered useful stuff.

> I know that the chairs have asked that these kinds of "metadiscussions" be
> ceased. But to be honest, there are people on this list who are being
> acrimonious in a manner that cannot change a thing given the parameter of
> the situation.

But there was nothing acrimonious about this discussion. Not even
close -- not until one person moved it to the www-archives group, and
your email, which is incredibly acrimonious.

> Am I happy with the HTML 5 spec? Not in many aspects. I would have much
> rather seen it be more of a "document" spec and leave out things like Web
> Workers and other RIA type items. At the same time, I recognize that it has
> done a great job at cleaning up the vagueness in the HTML 4 spec that led to
> so many problems, where different browsers could be HTML compliant and do
> radically different things at the same time.
> I am not asking for disagreement to cease, nor am I saying that all is well
> in HTML 5 land. But I *am* saying that the pollution of this list by
> pointless arguments (hint: when you start arguing over things like "strawman
> arguments" and start discussing the terms of the debate, you are engaging in
> a pointless argument) is a massive waste of the time of the people who are
> engaged in it (since you have neither power nor authority to change
> anything) and the time of the rest of us on this list.

Again, is this group only for certain people, who believe certain
things? I have seen repetitive communications about other aspects of
HTML5, so not sure why my discussion about the use of 'hidden', has
somehow broke the camel's back.

And I have to ask, point blank: Am I getting so much push back all of
a sudden because I specifically pointed out the lack of diversity
among those who have been making the decisions about the HTML5
specification? Frankly, I didn't point out anything that wasn't
obvious, but once I did, I've been getting slammed for anything I do
in this list.

I could see the pushback with some of my recent writings, because I
let my frustration impact on my writing. Not this thread, though.
There is nothing angry, vindictive, or acrimonious about any of it.

I am cc'ing the www-archives group, before anyone yet again moves what
I write to that group, but I am leaving this one here. My email thread
was a legitimate search for information.

Received on Thursday, 2 July 2009 20:36:22 UTC

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