[whatwg] <cite> versus |cite|

Matthew Raymond mattraymond at earthlink.net
Wed Jan 17 04:03:49 PST 2007

Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis wrote:
> 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.

   I agree with your argument, not just because of your arguments above,
but because I can see situations where you might have multiple <q> and
<blockquote> elements referring to the same <cite> element but having
different values for |cite|. For instance, you might provide a URL in
|cite| to a specific paragraph in a book, but |citeref| may point to a
<cite> element that only contains the title of the book.

   Another issue is deprecation. If you overload |cite|, it becomes
harder to deprecate |cite| for the kind of direct citation in HTML 4.01
(although I don't yet see that happening).

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