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RE: Change proposals for ISSUE-31 and ISSUE-80

From: Matt May <mattmay@adobe.com>
Date: Wed, 21 Jul 2010 13:55:20 -0700
To: Aryeh Gregor <Simetrical+w3c@gmail.com>
CC: Jonas Sicking <jonas@sicking.cc>, Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>, "public-html@w3.org" <public-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <96000FCB2ADA2F4F84F49CC99202F19922A415B363@NAMBX01.corp.adobe.com>
-----Original Message-----
From: simetrical@gmail.com [mailto:simetrical@gmail.com] On Behalf Of Aryeh Gregor

> I didn't demand anything.  Indeed, I'm in no position to demand
> anything, since I have no ability to change the spec directly or
> indirectly.  I asked a question, to which I did not know the answer
> (and still do not, after reading your response).

The reason I responded was that I don't think a single answer exists. In this environment, I doubt we'd even be able to agree on a general set of criteria for what makes good, bad or neutral alt text, which means we'd never come to any kind of consensus based on that data.

> It seems pretty simple: we could pick pages at random and look.

I think it's pretty easy to be led astray using that strategy. Especially if you're picking pages at random, without knowing, for example, how frequently each page is accessed. Since, as I've said, I care about the outcome for the user, a million random pages may add up to, say, the Google homepage, in terms of how often a user accesses the alt text in those documents.

> I realize that this is the understanding of those who favor mandatory
> alt text.  This is why I specifically asked if anyone had *data* about
> the subject, rather than just asking what people thought about it.  I
> know what people think about it, but it is not a priori obvious that
> the benefits of requiring alt text outweigh the harm, so hard evidence
> would be useful to inform the discussion.  If none exists, of course,
> we have to deal with what we have, but I thought it was worthwhile to
> ask.

Data's not the problem. All of us have data. The weakness of that approach is that we're all equally capable of getting it to say whatever we want. When you're dealing with subjective criteria, data is the wrong tool for the job.

Received on Wednesday, 21 July 2010 20:56:09 UTC

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