[whatwg] Re: Are the semantic inline elements really useful?

James Graham jg307 at cam.ac.uk
Wed Aug 31 08:27:51 PDT 2005

Henri Sivonen wrote:

>> generate a reference list.
> The stuff you can scrape off <cite>s does not amount to the data 
> required for a proper reference list.

Maybe that's the fundamental problem. <cite> (and others) are useless 
because they don't _do_ anything. If <cite> was like the LaTeX \cite{} + 
BibTeX (e.g. [1]) and could be used to automatically insert references 
from an external list and create a reference list with a <bibliography 
/> tag then it would be widely used, at least in the subset of documents 
where that functionality is desirable. But instead there isn't a clear 
design goal other than "citations should be recognisable as such" which 
isn't a strong enough reason to use it and (apparently) hasn't allowed 
for enough functionality that UA vendors have been able to hook up 
unexpected functions that make using <cite> desirable.

This isn't a suggestion to make <cite> like LaTeX \cite{}, merely an 
observation that underused or abused elements are those without an 
obvious, /user visible/ functionality, probably one that was explicitly 
designed into the element.

[1] http://www.hep.man.ac.uk/u/jenny/jcwdocs/latex/bibtexbasics.html

"It seems to be a constant throughout history: In every period, people believed things that were just ridiculous, and believed them so strongly that you would have gotten in terrible trouble for saying otherwise."

-- http://www.paulgraham.com/say.html

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