[whatwg] <cite> versus |cite|

Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis bhawkeslewis at googlemail.com
Tue Jan 16 04:09:52 PST 2007

Matthew Raymond wrote:
>    The only real argument against reusing |cite| (while keeping it a
> URL) is for semantic purity. That's the point I thought I was going to
> have to really fight against. Yet I haven't really heard anyone making
> that argument. Instead, the complain about a pound sign to the point of
> even suggesting new attributes just to avoid typing it. Bizarre!

Associating the cite attribute with the <cite> element is certainly
better than having no association between quotations and the <cite>
element at all.

However, I do think it would make more sense to have a different
attribute ("citeref"?) for linking to citations as opposed to linking to
sources. One reason for this is that user agents will struggle to
differentiate citation sources from referenced citations, which will
make actually exposing the information or processing it much harder. For
example, with a source you can verify a quotation, but not with a
citation alone (unless the citation itself /unambiguously/ links to a
source). And while you might wish to show a citation in a popup, you
probably don't want to expose a source that way.

If the idea is to move all actual citation data into <cite> elements and
simply refer each quotation to a <cite> element, there will be a huge
amount of visual repetition in documents which cite different parts
(e.g. different pages) of the same source, since each new <cite> from a
different part will require the full set of data if it is to be
machine-processable. Unless we work out a way for <cite> elements to
reference other <cite> elements. Which sounds more complex than having
UAs extract citation data from a URI in the first place.

Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis

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