[whatwg] <cite>

Matthew Thomas mpt at myrealbox.com
Wed Nov 17 02:36:54 PST 2004

On 15 Nov, 2004, at 12:58 PM, Laurens Holst wrote:
> Matthew Thomas wrote:
> ...
>> You mean posts by citation  
>> <http://diveintomark.org/archives/2002/12/27/pushing_the_envelope>. I  
>> hope "Hixie said I was using [<cite>] correctly"  
>> <http://diveintomark.org/archives/2003/01/19/influences> was an  
>> over-broad interpretation of Ian's words, because (a) Ian has  
>> mentioned "'clarifying' the definition of <cite>"  
>> <http://lists.whatwg.org/htdig.cgi/whatwg-whatwg.org/2004-November/  
>> 002329.html>, and (b) while Mark's uses of <cite> matched the example  
>>  given in the HTML 4.01 spec  
>> <http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/struct/text.html#edef-CITE>, they  
>> did not match the default presentation in all visual UAs, nor the  
>> resultant use by most Web authors.
>> (Specifically, I think the most coherent and backward-compatible   
>> "clarification" would be to restrict <cite> to titles of works,  
>> because inviting authors to use it for names of people as suggested  
>> in the HTML 4.01 example would require authors to override <cite>'s  
>> italic-ness frequently, making them more likely to abandon the  
>> element completely.)
> Actually, in the cases where I used cite for that purpose, italics  
> what exactly what I intended them to be rendered like.
> Example:
> "<p>On a side note, it seems that <cite>fantasai</cite> is getting
> really busy with the alternate style sheet switcher (at least I’m
> seeing a fair lot of activity on the bugs involved), so hopefully by
> the time Firefox 1.0 gets released it will be back in. And perhaps we
> will even see persistent style switching, though I wouldn’t count on
> it.</p>"
> ...

If you really want italics there, with all due respect, you're strange.  
Occasionally gossip columns have the equivalent of .name {font-weight:  
bold;}, but otherwise the vast majority of publishers don't give  
people's names in-line any special styling at all. Even  
<http://diveintomark.org/css/squares-summer.css> has "cite {font-style:  
normal;}" to reverse UAs' default italic, but people won't be bothered  
adding that to their site's style sheets if it's easier just to not use  
<cite> in the first place.

So if <cite> is "clarified" to include names of authors, we'll see the  
first two phenomena I described a week ago  
November/002344.html>: most people won't bother using it (because it  
doesn't give them a presentation they want), and those people who do  
use it will do so overzealously.

You just provided an excellent example of overzealous use: you wrote  
"<cite>fantasai</cite>", but that is not conformant, because you used  
fantasai neither as "a citation" nor as "a reference to another  

Matthew Thomas

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