[whatwg] [WF2] Objection to autocomplete Attribute

Ian Hickson ian at hixie.ch
Wed Mar 23 17:17:26 PST 2005

On Thu, 24 Mar 2005, Lachlan Hunt wrote:
> > 
> >  a. Allow users to use autocomplete on all sites, but don't let users
> >     use bank sites at all, or
> >
> >  b. Allow sites to specify when autocomplete should be unavailable, and
> >     let users use their bank sites,
> c. Allow sites to specify when autocomplete should be unavailable *by
>    default* and let users use their bank sites, but give the users final
>    say about the issue.

This is either the same as option a (if the pref is easily accessible) or 
b (if it isn't).

>    Any organisation that complains about the user
>    having such control is being unrealistic and simply needs to be
>    reminded that it is a *user agent*, not an author agent.

Yes, that sounds nice in theory. In practice it doesn't work that way.

>    - Both users and user agent vendors complain to the organisation
>      about not allowing them access.

Users don't complain. Users switch user agents.

Vendors complain, but simply get told to "make your browser secure".

>    - Organisations excercising user-hostile behaviour to exclude a large
>      portion of their users either give in to the pressure.

The large portion of their users are using IE.

>      OR
>    - User's switch to another organisation that caters for their needs,
>      user-hostile organisations lose market-share to a competitor that
>      respects a user's rights, and eventually gives into pressure
>      anyway.

That's what happens -- except the users blame the browser, not the site, 
and they switch to another browser, not another bank, and it's the browser 
vendors that give in to pressure (from their users!), not the banks.

> The point is that there should be *no reason* for an author to take on 
> the responsibility of the user/system administrator and the user agent 
> vendor.

Again, that's nice in theory, but the realities are not always ideal.

> > I honestly don't see that authors would want to use 
> > autocomplete="off".
> Yet, you seem to have plenty of evidence that they do!

In limited cases, yes. Not authors of, e.g., forum sites or whatever.

> > Because there they don't _have_ to use it. They can get the same 
> > effect without using the deprecated features.
> They don't have to use autocomplete either, they could get the same 
> effect by writing a stern warning near the form, recommending that users 
> do not make use of autocomplete facilities, which would allow the user 
> to make an informed decision.

Simple rule of UI design: users never read anything. Stern warnings don't 
get read. If you want something to happen, it just has to happen 
automatically, because the user won't do it.

Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'

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