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Re: evidence of harm

From: Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net>
Date: Thu, 25 Jun 2009 07:11:32 -0400
Message-ID: <4A435B64.8070702@intertwingly.net>
To: Steven Faulkner <faulkner.steve@gmail.com>
CC: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>, Chris Wilson <Chris.Wilson@microsoft.com>, www-archive <www-archive@w3.org>, public html for all <list@html4all.org>
Steven Faulkner wrote:
> Hi Ian,
> you wrote:
> <Hixie> annevk2: that's not the path of least resistance; i, for one,
> would object strongly to that solution as it has been shown to
> actually harm users [1]
> While i think the summary attribute has
> 1. been abused
> 2. been incorrectly used
> 3. been a unecessary time sink  for all involved in its presence or
> lack of in HTML 5.
> 4. been concentrated on at the expense of other more important
> accessibility issues.
> I don't know of any evidence where it has been shown to "harm users"
> you wrote:
> <Hixie> i guess i wish the chairs would at least give some guidance on
> how to proceed
> agreed, if this would have occured 6 months or a year ago, then a lot
> less time and effort would have been wasted.

Steven, the last time I tried to answer this, you stated that my 
response on obfuscates the issue for you[1].  I'll try again, but if I'm 
not successful, I'll need more to go on in order to be more helpful.

I'll try to paint a complete picture, which means that I need to start 
from the beginning.  Bear with me.  Meanwhile, while I don't doubt that 
there will be cases in the future where Ian will need to be overruled, 
at the present time I don't see summary as being one of those cases.  If 
people really want to put this to a vote, I'll accommodate, but I will 
need some help in formulating the question.  Longer answer follows:

  - - -

Ian volunteers to author a document.  There are limits on what you can 
ask any volunteer to do.  My first six months as co-chair, I've focused 
on removing obstacles which may have been preventing more people from 
volunteering.  The next six months I intend to be spending more of my 
time supporting those that actually chose to do so.

If this means more specifications each purporting to be HTML 5 with a 
survival of the fittest determining which one advances, I'm OK with 
that.  Better would be more documents with clear divisions of labor. 
Best would be cooperation.

No, I am not singling out any one individual as not-being cooperative, 
there is something that everybody needs to work on.  That includes me. 
That includes you.  That includes Ian.  That includes Chris Wilson, an 
innocent victim in this particular discussion, just one that I happen to 
think would be fun to pick on at this particular point in time.

I am totally sympathetic to the notion that the case has not yet been 
made for a summary attribute.  What I have heard to date leads me to 
believe that the long term goal is to replace this attribute.  Meanwhile 
those that advocate its "reinstatement" are "disinclined to reinvent 
this particular wheel at this particular time."[2]

A much more tenable position would be for somebody to step forward and 
do this work, and to argue that the summary attribute be listed in 
section 12.3 as vestigial markup.  If that work were done, I personally 
doubt that a vote would be necessary, but if it came to that, I would 
vote for it.  At the present time, I personally would vote against 
anything that simply suggested that summary be "reinstated" unless I 
felt that those advocating such had a firm conviction such an approach 
was the right long term solution.

Meanwhile, Shelley has stepped forward and volunteered to edit both this 
section and the section on semantic metadata.  Mike Smith has 
indicated[3] that he is ready to set her up with write access to the 
document repository to the group.

  - - -

In summary, the path I suggest is to find somebody who is willing to be 
an editor and make your case.  That could be Ian.  That could be 
Shelley.  That could be you.  If we end up with multiple competing 
documents at the time we wish to enter Last Call, the document with the 
greatest amount of consensus will be the one that advances.

If any of this is in any way unclear, please let me know.

- Sam Ruby

[1] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-archive/2009Jun/0120.html
[2] http://www.mail-archive.com/www-archive@w3.org/msg02575.html
[3] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2009Jun/0654.html
Received on Thursday, 25 June 2009 11:12:13 UTC

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