Re: [whatwg] A plea to Hixie to adopt <main>

On Sat, Nov 17, 2012 at 11:01 AM, Ian Hickson <> wrote:

> On Sat, 10 Nov 2012, Maciej Stachowiak wrote:
> >
> > I personally think <main> would be useful. I don't think it has a huge
> > benefit, but it has modest benefits, like <aside>, <header>, <footer>
> > and <section>. I also think the implementation costs are low. The
> > reasons I think it has some benefits:
> >
> > - Even though heuristics (such as the scooby-doo algorithm or even
> > guesses based on role or class, or the layout) will always be necessary
> > in some cases, it's still good to have a simple and relatively
> > trustworthy marker of the main content. This is useful both for
> > accessibility purposes and for other browser features that want to find
> > the main content. In many cases, we have found that even when semantics
> > can be heuristically inferred, having an explicit marker is still
> > useful. For example, you can usually guess that some text is an address,
> > but we still have a microformat that helps identify such data
> > unambiguously.
> But we already have this. The main content is whatever content isn't
> marked up as not being main content (anything not marked up with <header>,
> <aside>, <nav>, etc).

I tried to validate that claim. It's not really possible with today's Web
pages, since they haven't moved to making use of these elements, but I made
some educated guesses as to where they would be used sensibly on a normal
Web page. I have applied this to Google search results, Facebook user
pages, YouTube video pages, and Wikipedia articles as examples of some of
the most used content on the Web. You can see my results at

I believe that none of the heuristic approaches work 100% of the time. In
particular Scooby Doo doesn't work because there are far too many
layout-only elements that cannot be grasped with <header>, <aside> etc and
for which we cannot clearly say that the first top-level such element
should be regarded as the main content element.

Hope that bit of research helps.


Received on Tuesday, 27 November 2012 21:48:55 UTC