W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-ig@w3.org > July to September 1998

Re: alt tags no with a twist

From: Colin F Reynolds <colin@nospam.demon.co.uk>
Date: Wed, 19 Aug 1998 09:39:52 +0100
Message-ID: <ic$gLLDY9o21Ew4b@the-net-effect.com>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
In article <D70342829C12D2119D0700805FBECA2F75F331@RED-MSG-55>, Charles
(Chuck) Oppermann <chuckop@microsoft.com> writes

>Before IE3 started using ALT tags as ToolTips, very, very few web sites
>bothered with putting ALT text in.  Most books just referenced ALT as needed
>for "text-mode browsers" and wasn't a concern for graphical browsers.

You've made this assertion, with its implication that the usage of ALT
increased as a result of the implementation as tooltips, before. I've
yet to find any evidence which backs up these assertions. If you can
point me to some, I'd be grateful.

... or does your insistence on using the term "ToolTip" as opposed to
"tooltip" mean that you consider that the two are different animals?
That might explain a great many things.

>Additionally, authors who wanted to put in ALT text didn't have a way of
>easily testing their implementation.

Hmmm... they weren't able to disable image loading in their browser?
Perhaps they should have got a better browser (tm).

>All throughout graphical user interfaces, ToolTips are used to provide
>textual representations of graphical objects.

No... all through GUIs, tootips are used to provide ADDITIONAL
INFORMATION about graphical objects.

>Sure some people will abuse ALT,
> but it's likely that those relatively small
>number of people who do so, wouldn't have bothered with an ALT if the
>ToolTip feature didn't exist.

It's not surprising that people will abuse ALT if the UAs implement
tooltips in a way that is BAD - Broken As Designed.

As regards your assertion that implementing ALT as tooltip increases the
usage of ALT, you're entitled to your opinion. However, you keep stating
this as though it's fact. Evidence, please?

>  Finally, nearly 100% of the time, some ALT
>text is better than no ALT text.

100% of the time, no "ALT tooltip" is better than an "ALT tooltip".

>The abuse of ALT was rectified in HTML 4.0 by the addition of TITLE.  Now
>authors can provide alternative text and user interface hints.

While HTML 4 seems to me to be corrected in this respect, there are
still browser developers who seem to retain the attitude that ALT text
as tooltips is acceptable. While this attitude persists, problems such
as that quoted by the original poster to this thread will continue to

>Please see my comments in the Page Authoring Guidelines list for a
>description of how Internet Explorer treats ALT and TITLE.

A page reference would be useful. Hypertext is good for such things, you

In article <Pine.SUN.3.91.980819121641.22101A-100000@sunrise.srl.rmit.ed
u.au>, Charles McCathieNevile <charlesn@sunrise.srl.rmit.edu.au> writes
>Chuck is correct - use of tooltips for alt text is a good thing.

I disagree entirely.
Colin Reynolds, The Net Effect (World Wide) Ltd
Tel: +44 (0)1246 450 901
Fax: +44 (0)1246 450 902
Received on Wednesday, 19 August 1998 05:09:49 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.1 : Tuesday, 13 October 2015 16:21:01 UTC