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Re: FAQ - where are the FAQs for this list?

From: Charles F. Munat <chas@munat.com>
Date: Fri, 22 Feb 2002 08:31:26 -0800
Message-ID: <3C76725E.9000300@munat.com>
To: WAI IG <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
I'm half in agreement with you, Al, but only half.

Yes, the FAQ should point out that alt attributes are often -- 
erroneously -- referred to as "alt tags." And it should explain why they 
are *not* "tags" (and they are *not*). But it should then try to 
encourage use of the correct terminology.

I am not saying this because I believe that we should be prescriptive 
about terminology (like that would work!). Nor do I disagree that "tag" 
-- in a wider sense -- can be applied to the alt attribute. I am saying 
this because I've spent a lot of time teaching people to write quality 
HTML and I've found that confusion between elements and attributes is 
widespread. It does not help when we apply terminology so loosely.

For most people (IMO), this is a tag: <tag>

This is not: attribute=""

Remember also that the FAQ is really an introduction to the WCAG, where 
terminology is (usually) used more precisely. It should be warming 
people up for that.

So I agree with Ineke. While the term "alt tag" should be mentioned 
clearly in the FAQ (and perhaps in multiple places), the difference 
between attributes and elements should be clearly explained also, and 
the term "alt tag" should be clearly labelled as imprecise.

(One benefit to using "alt tag" somewhere in the FAQ is that people 
searching for "alt tag" will also pull up our FAQ!)

Charles F. Munat
Seattle, Washington

Al Gilman wrote:
> At 03:34 PM 2002-02-18 , Charles F. Munat wrote:
>>2. It would be nice if we were careful to use correct terminology. For
>>example, I ran across a couple of references to "alt tags." Here is an
>>opportunity to correct those misaprehensions.
> While this point is likely to gain consensus backing on _this list_ this illustrates why this list is not recognized in the workplan of the WAI as a consensus body.
> This is a gold-plated bad idea for FAQs.
> One of the key principles in FAQs is to respect and bond with the street language by which people with questions express their questions.
> In this case, "ALT tags" is the incumbent street language, and there is no reason to try to 'correct' it.  The ALT attribute is a 'tag' in a natural language sense that is more important to bind to in the FAQs than to fight against.  Yes, the FAQ should explain that to find this question in the technical literature one will need to use the language "ALT attribute" so that when the reader searches for more information they can dig up the technical discussions as well as those who have taken the trouble to meet real people on their own terms.
> In practical terms there is no problem with "ALT tags" because if you Google for "ALT tags," you get Alan Flavell's excellent discourse that explains the technical niceties without talking down to the reader.  If you search with this street language you get better-filtered tutorial literature than if you use the technically 'correct' dialect.  Go figure.
> Al
> For more info:
> read why RTFM.mit.edu was insanely great.  Archived at
>   http://www-unix.gridforum.org/mail_archive/gce-wg/msg00134.html
Received on Friday, 22 February 2002 12:40:06 UTC

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