[whatwg] Subject: Re: many messages regarding image captions

James Graham jg307 at cam.ac.uk
Tue Nov 28 15:52:21 PST 2006

Michel Fortin wrote:
> Le 28 nov. 2006 à 11:09, James Graham a écrit :
>> Broad semantics mean that UAs can do fewer useful things with the 
>> information. That dilutes the value of having any semantics at all.
> Paragraphs are used for so many thing they can hardly be used to extract 
> any information at all, yet they're useful because they're a natural 
> part of every document and they help humans who navigates through the 
> text, either visually or with a text reader.

Paragraphs or paragraph markup? I agree that there's not much value to 
paragraph markup beyond default styling (in various media), but the fact 
that they map well onto a fundamental construct of written language with 
well define styling conventions makes that valuable enough.

> The same can be said for 
> "figure": a figure may have a meaning a little more precise than a 
> paragraph, the meaning is still very broad. If you narrow the meaning, 
> you have to change the word, otherwise it'll be confusing.

I disagree with your point about the semantics of the term figure (see 
below) and I disagree strongly with any suggestion that we take an 
element with a well-defined semantic that can be utilized in obvious 
ways by UAs and broaden the meaning to include ones where the original 
UA features are actively harmful. IMHO putting e.g. sample output inside 
<figure> elements would have exactly that effect.

> Quoted from Wikipedia:
>> A figure in writing and publishing is any graphic, text, table or 
>> other representation that is unaligned from the main flow of text. 
>> Figures are commonly found in scientific and non-scientific articles, 
>> but also in books. Some books will have a table of figures--in 
>> addition to the table of contents--that lists centrally all the 
>> figures appearing in the work.

Well that's not the common usage of the word "figure" that I encounter 
in normal verbal use, nor is it one that I have found used in science 
publishing (separate boxes with images in are called figures, separate 
boxes with tables in are called "tables").

"The universe doesn't care what you believe. The wonderful thing about 
science is that it doesn't ask for your faith, it just asks for your 
eyes" --- http://xkcd.com/c154.html

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