[whatwg] <blockquote cite> and <q cite>

Henri Sivonen hsivonen at iki.fi
Wed Jan 3 05:40:00 PST 2007

On Jan 3, 2007, at 13:03, Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis wrote:

> Anne van Kesteren wrote:
>> Making quoting even more difficult is not better at all in my  
>> opinion.
> Well, can you suggest an alternative way of associating different
> instances of q, which may themselves contain citations from the quoted
> material, with different instances of cite in the same paragraph?

You seem to assume that there is a need to
  1) Mark up quotations so that that software can unambiguously see  
which DOM range was quoted.
  2) Mark up sources of quotations in an unambiguous machine- 
dereferencable way.
  3) Associate the two unambiguously.

I very much doubt the need to mark up quoted DOM ranges unambiguously  
and to unambiguously give a machine-dereferencable source pointer. I  
also think that the issue is being approached from the wrong direction.

First, we should consider how people writing for traditional print  
media would express quotations and sources. (They'd use typographic  
conventions and words.) Then we should consider if this is enough for  
the Web or whether there could *realistically* be cases where  
consuming software could serve users notably better for non-niche use  
cases if there was more data available (i.e. big wins--not just  
chasing diminishing returns). If it turns out that having additional  
data would be a big win, we should consider the cost and incentives  
of providing that additional data and whether authors can  
realistically provide the additional data (i.e. do they even know  
it). If this analysis suggests that authors would be able and  
incentivized to provide the additional data, only then should we  
design markup for it.

> Of course, this syntax is /only/ "difficult" if you type in your  
> excerpt
> manually.

"Tools will save us." Not likely.

> Requiring ordinary end-users to do /any/ of the following
> tasks by hand seems unrealistic:


> If you do want to keep things really simple on the hand-coding end,  
> the
> cite attribute, not the cite element, is definitely the way to go

Or, authors could simply not mark up the sources of quotations  
unambiguously leaving it to readers to cope with the relationship of  
quotations and sources the same way readers of papers publications do.

> Web Applications 1.0 could specifically require
> browsers be able to retrieve, understand, and expose information from
> OpenURL ContextObjects, Dublin Core, standard HTML META metadata, and
> hCite. Styling might be rather vexing, however, although I suppose  
> CSS3
> could add relevant pseudo-classes if necessary?

If the spec is too "out there", it gets ignored.

> I do recognize the cite attribute represents something of a break from
> the conventions of print publishing, but then so does the href
> attribute, and where would we be without that? :)

Most notably, links are used on the Web to achieve a clear behavioral  
goal in real software. The semantics of the link relationship are  
rarely expressed in practice.

Henri Sivonen
hsivonen at iki.fi

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