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Re: Fwd: Flickr and alt

From: Patrick H. Lauke <redux@splintered.co.uk>
Date: Mon, 18 Aug 2008 23:52:19 +0100
Message-ID: <48A9FD23.5080503@splintered.co.uk>
To: Sam Kuper <sam.kuper@uclmail.net>
CC: "public-html@w3.org WG" <public-html@w3.org>, W3C WAI-XTECH <wai-xtech@w3.org>

Sam Kuper wrote:
> I don't know if anyone on the list remembers this Michael Arrington 
> post: 1.2 million Flickr Photos Geotagged in 24 Hours 
> <http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/08/29/12-million-flickr-photos-geotagged-in-24-hours/>. 
> It strikes me that if Flickr can make geotagging easy enough for that 
> many photos to be tagged that quickly, it can probably do more to get 
> its users adding alt text routinely.

The difference here is that geotagging adds tangible and visible 
benefits and added functionality to sighted users who upload their 
photos (which, I'd assume, still constitute the largest user group on 
Flickr). It'd be a tougher sell to say to people that they must also 
provide alt text routinely (and even retrospectively).

> I think requiring alt is good practice, and omitting it is poor 
> practice. While most CMSes and authoring tools will allow users to omit 
> alt, they ought to alert the user that this is against spec, and perhaps 
> ought to link to a document that explains why alt is generally required.

CMSs and authoring tools, in view, are a completely separate beast. In 
my last email I noted how many users (myself included) don't user Flickr 
so much as a publishing platform, but as an online extension of their 
private photo collection, with the ability to share with known 
individuals, friends, family. The use context is different. In the case 
of CMSs used for publication to the wide web, I agree - and many more 
sophisticated systems already do warn about empty alts - but users 
should still be able to consciously leave alt empty, as otherwise 
they'll simply enter some generic text ("photo", "image", "abc", "blah", 
...) if they're forced to enter metadata/alternatives.

Patrick H. Lauke
re·dux (adj.): brought back; returned. used postpositively
[latin : re-, re- + dux, leader; see duke.]
www.splintered.co.uk | www.photographia.co.uk
Co-lead, Web Standards Project (WaSP) Accessibility Task Force
Received on Monday, 18 August 2008 22:52:56 UTC

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