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Re: img@relaxed CP [was: CfC: Close ISSUE-206: meta-generator by Amicable Resolution]

From: Michael[tm] Smith <mike@w3.org>
Date: Wed, 1 Aug 2012 19:38:23 +0900
To: public-html@w3.org
Message-ID: <20120801103822.GC52896@sideshowbarker>
Janina Sajka <janina@rednote.net>, 2012-08-01 03:41 -0400:

> Mike:
> 
> I don't want to chop your obviously earnest email, but you make a statement in
> the core of your argument I simply must challenge you on.

OK. But first off, I want to say that asynchronous e-mail is not always my
preferred way to have discussions like the one this one has become. I don't
mind being challenged. But I find that I tend to get less defensive about
the challenging in synchronous discussions where it's just people talking
to people -- closer to the normal way that people talk to people.

I just spent a short amount of time chatting with John Foliot about this
after John pinged me on Skypea. And I'm really glad he did, because I think
in that short amount of time we ended up having a really productive
discussion and reaching a closer understanding than would have otherwise.

In contrast I've spent literally more than one hour now writing this one
message. I hope it's as effective in reaching a closer understanding with
each other.

> So, let me simply top post and quote you:
> 
> < Mike writes:
> > So as far as the particulars of this CP: This CP itself never asserts
> > anything about developers being "hapless victims". It instead describes
> > "large Web applications partly generated from code and partly sourced
> > from hand-authored HTML templates", and talks about the need to help
> > developers in those environments "catch markup errors that they can do
> > something about, without bothering them about markup errors they can't
> > do anything about."

OK, I made two statements in that paragraph which I intended simply as
statements of fact:

1. This CP itself never uses the words "hapless victims".

2. The verbatim text of the CP describes "large Web applications partly
generated from code and partly sourced from hand-authored HTML templates",
and talks about the need to help developers in those environments "catch
markup errors that they can do something about, without bothering them
about markup errors they can't do anything about."

For the second statement, I only intended to quote those two excerpts from
the CP.

> What have I missed? You use the plural "markup errors,"

That "markup errors" phrase is a verbatim quote from the CP. I think the
intent of that part of the CP is to just set that context for understanding
the kind of environment that can cause authors to not have full control of
the validity of the content they produce.

> but I see only one error as the target of this CP

That is I think because there is only one error that this CP is intended to
address -- only one issue, issue 206.

> and only one use case purportedly so egregious as to warrant this
> exceptional remedy. 

This CP does not imply that there's only one use case so egregious as to
warrant this remedy. The CP is simply intentionally restricting itself to
addressing this one use case -- because the CP is meant only to address
issue 206 and not to address other hypothetical problems that no one has
yet taken the time to document or raise bugs or issues for.

> Are there additional errors and use cases you have in mind, as Steve
> suggested?
> http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2012Aug/0001.html

There are no specific ones that I have in mind, no. And I am very wary of
trying to introduce a general one-size-fits-all way of addressing whatever
other problems there might hypothetically be that are similar to this.
Among other things, it is very open to abuse, in the same way that this
proposed "relaxed" attribute is open to abuse -- just more widely.

> When there's only one use case and only one error being evaded, it's
> dishonest to claim a generalized approach to multiple "errors."

Point taken. I agree the CP could probably be refined by making it more
explicitly focused only on the missing img@alt case, and the wording of the
CP could probably be refined by more explicitly restricting itself to just
discussing the need to help developers "catch missing alt attributes that
they can do something about, while at the same time allowing them to opt-in
to also being alerted to missing alt attributes for images that have been
injected into content by a generator of some kind -- and clearly flagged as
such (with an attribute such as the proposed "relaxed" attribute) -- but
with the default validator behavior being that the users are not alerted in
those cases, in the interest of first letting them focus on fixing the alt
text for the images in the content they have control to directly edit.

> Now, I've not found you to be dishonest, so I can only assume you've
> allowed yourself to get sloppy in your reasoning.

I don't think people like having it suggested to them either that they've
been dishonest or they've allowed themselves to get sloppy in their
reasoning. The general description of "markup errors" that you have pointed
out as being flawed are in the original CP. I did not write those words.
That said, I think Ted when he wrote them was not being either dishonest
nor allowing himself to get sloppy in his reasoning. He was just trying to
put together a change proposal to address the issue. I think he did that in
good faith, even if the CP has some flaws.

> But, your statement is wrong nevertheless.
> 
> Let me add that I do not assert "hapless victims." Nor would I expect
> Ted to say that of himself in this CP. But, what other conclusion is
> there to draw when the rationale is arguing that these smart developer
> people need this remedy because they just can't do anything about those
> pesky alt errors? Worst of all, the argument even goes to claim the
> machine is at fault--the system, whatever you want to call it. OK, I can
> retract the piteous haplessness, but this certainly sounds like an
> assertion of victimhood to me when the prime rationale offered is "I
> can't do anything about it, so don't bother me with the errors."

I think part of the point of the CP is to flag img elements that a machine
generator has placed in the contents, in order to try to help authors first
focus on any catching any missing alt attributes for img attributes they
introduced themselves directly.

> My point, of course, is the opposite. I agree these are smart people who
> understand how to get things done. I don't accept the assertion of
> victimhood, hapless or otherwise.

As far as I can see, nobody has made the assertion of victimhood, nor even
implied it. The word "victimhood" has not been part of the discussion
anywhere else that I can recall. Nor has the concept of victimhood. I don't
think anybody who has been advocating for a solution to the use case is
doing so because they see the authors as victims. Instead I think that as
far as this part of the use case, it's more about just trying to help the
authors distinguish among errors they have introduced themselves, and
errors that have been introduced from elsewhere.

> So, pardon me for being an inconvenient fact in their existence--but
> that's what the W3C a11y standards are about, the end users and consumers
> of web content, not the convenience of these smart developers.

I think we all want it is best for users and consumers of web content. We
just disagree about the right ways to help ensure the best user experiences.
As others have said, the goal of addressing this use case is ultimately to
help the end users by first helping the developers. It's not about simply
making things convenient for developers -- it's giving them better ways to
identify different classes of errors and deal with them.

  --Mike

-- 
Michael[tm] Smith http://people.w3.org/mike
Received on Wednesday, 1 August 2012 10:38:31 UTC

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