[whatwg] the cite element

On Mon, Oct 5, 2009 at 9:13 PM, Ian Hickson <ian at hixie.ch> wrote:
> On Tue, 22 Sep 2009, Jim Jewett wrote:
>> On Tue, Sep 22, 2009 at 8:46 PM, Ian Hickson <ian at hixie.ch> wrote:
>> > On Wed, 16 Sep 2009, Erik Vorhes wrote:
>> >> On Wed, Sep 16, 2009 at 4:16 AM, Ian Hickson <ian at hixie.ch> wrote:
>> >> >> Unless there is some semantic value to the name being more than
>> >> >> "just" a name, yes.
>> >> > Is there?
>> >> Yes
>> > What is it?
>> <cite> points to a primary source of the statement, as opposed to an
>> someone merely named by the statement.
> I hate to be so repetitive, but why is that beneficial? What is the
> semantic value of this?
> Is there as much semantic value in pointing to the primary source of a
> statement as there is in knowing that the word "earth" refers to the
> planet and not the dirt, for example? If so, what is that extra value?

Identifying speakers and other sources of attribution have multiple
use-cases, as identified previously to this list. Such uses are often
extra-contextual, unlike your example of "earth." I don't know how
otherwise to respond to such laughably obvious "reductio ad absurdum"

>> >> and with the removal of the <dialog> element (of which I was unaware
>> >> when I sent my last message) makes a compelling case for the
>> >> re-expansion of <cite> for dialog.
>> >
>> > Why?
>> dialogues and transcripts and credits and theatrical scripts are all
>> arguably too fine-grained for a "citation", as opposed to a "label" or
>> "attribution", but they are certainly real use cases where the
>> attribution is important.
> Why? This is not a rhetorical question, I'm trying to get to the use case
> that means that there is an actual benefit to what you are asking for.
> Just saying that it's important doesn't say _why_ it is important. I'm not
> denying that it is important, I'm just trying to work out _why_, so that
> the proposal (e.g. to use <cite> for this) can be properly evaluated.
> What does <cite> do that you want?

It may not need to be <cite>, per se, but that is the element that has
been used in examples of multiple kinds of quote + attribution markup
patterns. And since the WG has a general aversion to creating new
elements (except when it doesn't), using <cite> makes the most sense.

To me, recommending <b> or <i> or <span> for such contexts is a
nonstarter, as these all appear to be designated for marking up text
"without conveying any extra importance." The desire is to have
speakers' names and other sources of attribution marked up in such a
way that sets them apart from the surrounding context. Especially in
the cases of dialog and transcription, their being "special" is
important. For example, listen to any of Nina Totenberg's reports on
US Supreme Court proceedings, or read just about any printed play text
in existence.

Above other sources of attribution, it is important for speakers'
names to be marked up as distinct from its surrounding context.
Moreover, this markup is not something that can be properly conveyed
by any element whose primary function is presentation- or

> I don't buy that at all. It's just one way that people write dialogs, but
> as far as I can tell this is perfectly adequate:
> ? <p>Me: Can I say something?</p>
> ...and you need neither <q> nor <cite>. I really feel that you are trying
> too hard to solve a problem that really doesn't exist here.

Surely you jest.

Have you ever read a play? In every instance I have run across,
speakers and their words are clearly demarcated (not to mention stage
directions, etc.

> I've started asking people what they think the errors are in the following
> snippet:
> ?<article>
> ? <h1>Welcome to my home page</h1>
> ? <p>My name is <cite>Bob Smith</cite>.</p>
> ? <p>I like the book <cite>Pandora's Star</cite>.</p>
> ? <p>What do you think?</p>
> ? <article>
> ? ?<cite>James Smith</cite>
> ? ?<p>I'm with you <cite>Bob</cite>!</p>
> ? </article>
> ? <article>
> ? ?<cite>Fred</cite>
> ? ?<p><cite>James</cite> wrote:</p>
> ? ?<blockquote><p>I'm with you <cite>Bob</cite>!</p></blockquote>
> ? ?<p>But I disagree, I think <cite>Pat</cite>'s blog post is better.
> ? </article>
> ?</article>
> ...but frankly I'm having trouble working out which you are proposing to
> have valid and not, which is not a good sign.
> Given that I don't see the use case of marking up any of the <cite>s in
> the above except the book title (which would be styled differently), I
> really don't see the point of having this level of complexity.

Your example hardly dignifies a response, but here goes:

1. The proposal, as far as I can tell, is to allow <cite> (or some
nonexistent element whose name would likely be less logical) to mark
up text for attribution, which often would be a name. I don't believe
*anyone* is arguing that every name should be marked up with <cite>.
Who are you trying to argue against here? You're not arguing against
those of us advocating for additional allowable uses for <cite>.

2. If you want to play the "reductio ad absurdum" game, I propose we
eliminate <article> from the specification, because some stupid
content author might try to create a document with the following

<p><article>The</article> rain in Spain falls mainly on
<article>the</article> plain.</p>

>> > It seems like it would be better to not have any elements for the
>> > bottom three definitions you list, or to introduce a new element for
>> > those that have use cases. However, no compelling use cases have been
>> > mentioned as far as I am aware.
>> Are you seriously saying that there is no need to attribute to "names
>> and other sources of quote attribution (including identifying speakers
>> in dialog)", or to markup the user name of "names of blog post
>> commenters and authors (in the context of their comments, posts, etc.)"
> As far as I can tell, there is no need, no. What is the need?

You repeatedly assert that you don't see a need, but I and others on
this list have repeatedly demonstrated a need for this. See above and
below, for example, or in numerous other mailing-list messages on this

>> Nor have I yet seen a script (or published play) that didn't use some
>> styling variation to distinguish the character names from their words.
>> (Usually -- but not quite always -- I see additional variations to
>> indicate character actions, and generic stage directions such as scene
>> endings.)
> Most actual scripts I've seen have one font with no styling whatsoever,
> just indenting and all-caps in places.

1. When did "indenting and all-caps" cease to be "styling"? Someone
should notify the CSS3 working group.

2. From 2002 until 2007 I was a graduate student in English
literature, specializing in textual criticism (that is, the nature of
texts and the production of editions, among other things). I routinely
taught plays in class and studied plays as part of my own academic
pursuits. Most actual scripts that I've seen, including plays and
liturgical texts that date back to the early twelfth century,
demarcate speakers' names through "styling."

So I need to call BS on any claim that speakers' names aren't "styled."

>> >> My own interpretation of (a fraction of)
>> >> http://philip.html5.org/data/cite.txt did not support narrowing the
>> >> definition only to titles. ?For example
>> >>
>> >> (1) ?Examples of citing a person, arguably the creator.
>> >>
>> >> (1a) ?http://www.hiddenmickeys.org/Movies/MaryPoppins.html
>> >>
>> >> The cite element is used to give credit to the person who
>> >> found/verified each "Hidden Mickey":
>> >> ? ? <CITE>REPORTED: <A HREF="mailto:...">Beverly O'Dell</A> 12 MAR 98</CITE>
>> >> ? ? <CITE>UPDATE: Greg Bevier 29 JUL 98</CITE>
>> >
>> > I don't think that's a usage anyone is actually arguing for though, is
>> > it?
>> Yes, I do think so. ?The person in the cite element is the source of the
>> information. ?This is similar to using cite for the author of a comment
>> at a blog.
> But with the word "REPORTED:" inside it? With the date inside it? Surely
> that isn't what you are requesting. It doesn't match any of the
> definitions you gave earlier, as far as I can tell.

You answered your own question. Why ask the question except to
ridicule the person making the suggestion?

> Well, you're always allowed to omit the markup -- I mean, you don't _have_
> to surround the word "WARNING!" with <strong>, for instance, and in
> practice whether you do or not is more or less up to how you want it
> styled. So I don't see why that's a problem.

When did HTML5 become a set of styling hooks for sighted users?

> On Wed, 23 Sep 2009, Jim Jewett wrote:
>> Smylers wrote:
>> > If authors are spending time on using an element which has no effect
>> > on users (and Hixie's pointed out that in many cases where <cite> is
>> > used other than for titles of works authors use CSS to remove the
>> > default italics, to ensure that users don't actually have the presence
>> > of the <cite> conveyed to them) then there's no reason for HTML5 to
>> > continue to support it.
>> If they are merely changing the styling to some other distinctive form,
>> there is still reason to support it. ?If they are truly going to the
>> effort of adding it, then working to make it indistinguishable, that
>> tells me the element is *very* important (if perhaps only for
>> bureaucratic reasons), and the problem is with the default styling and
>> UI.
> You have an odd use of the word "important". To me, it seems like if
> authors are going out of their way to use an element which has zero effect
> on anything, then they are in fact wasting their time, not doing something
> important. Then again, I also think that "bureaucratic reasons" and "very
> important" are contradictory.

It's good to know that this has been a waste of time.

Erik Vorhes

Received on Tuesday, 6 October 2009 10:45:40 UTC