[whatwg] several messages about <sarcasm> proposals

Mikko Rantalainen mikko.rantalainen at peda.net
Tue Apr 15 03:20:07 PDT 2008

Ian Hickson wrote:
> On Tue, 24 Apr 2007, Elliotte Harold wrote:
>> It occurs to me that one of the most frequently used nits of 
>> pseudo-markup is to indicate sarcasm. For example,
>> <sarcasm>Yeah, George W. Bush has been such a great president.</sarcasm>
>> Should we perhaps formalize this? Is there any benefit to be achieved by 
>> adding an explicit sarcasm element to HTML?
> [...]
> I do not believe that starting down this slippery slope will get us enough 
> benefits to outweigh the costs involved. It isn't at all clear when we 
> would have to stop (just look at the proposals above, which quickly went 
> from just indicating sarcasm to pointing out other kinds of humour, other 
> emotions, etc).
> I also believe that the rather limited success that analogous proposals 
> have enjoyed in print typography over the years should be a warning sign 
> for us to avoid introducing any explicit markup for this.
> As has been noted, class keywords can be used for this purpose on a 
> site-by-site basis.

I agree that <sarcasm> or <joke> or something equally specialized does
not deserve its own tag.

If there was a tag, it should be along the lines of <double-meaning> or
<not-literal> or <reader-beware> which could then be classed as sarcasm
or joke or possible insult.

However, such element would probably go unused in any case. The only use
case I can come up with is that a search engine could warn the user
about the content in the search results. A search engine could also
ignore content inside such element because a machine is not expected to
understand the real meaning of such content and therefore it cannot be
successfully indexed automatically. Content authors probably do not care
about possible false positives of their content in the search engine
query results.

In cases where I've seen <sarcasm> or other such tags, they are meant to
be seen by the reader as literal tags (that is, the letters "<sarcasm>"
are part of the content, not markup).


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