[whatwg] the cite element

Erik Vorhes erik at textivism.com
Mon Jul 27 08:36:42 PDT 2009

On Mon, Jul 27, 2009 at 10:17 AM, Kristof
Zelechovski<giecrilj at stegny.2a.pl> wrote:
>  1. If you cite a person, the person you cite does not become a citation
> because of that.  Putting the person inside the CITE element distorts the
> meaning.

If you are citing a person (either as someone worth quoting or as,
say, the photographer of an image), how does using <cite> to identify
the citation distort the meaning?

>  2. The example <CITE >Chaucer and the <CITE >Canterbury Tales</CITE
>></CITE > is invalid because "Canterbury Tales" are not being cited, at
> least not in the title page.

Why not? It seems clear to me that one title is citing the other.

>  3. The semantic potential does not decrease uniformly with specificity.
> Rather, there is an optimal value somewhere in the middle of specificity.
> Arguably, that optimum is attained with CITE reserved for titles.

Arguably, the optimum is attained with <cite> reserved for citations.

>  4. Of course titles are not always styled the same way.  However, there is
> a requirement that the presentation makes sense in most cases when CSS is
> not supported.  The cases where styling all titles in the same way makes the
> information hard to understand are scarce.

This doesn't explain why <cite> needs to be used exclusively used for
titles. (And I didn't realize that HTML was really just for use as
styling hooks. There's no audible difference between <cite
style="font-style:normal;">MLA Handbook for Writers of Research
Papers</cite> and <cite>MLA Handbook for Writers of Research

>  5. Random markup errors a few pages do not constitute an obstacle here,
> nor do errors in template code (they are ubiquitous once deployed but they
> are easy to fix, at least at Wikipedia).

Except that Wikipedia is not erroneous in its usage of <cite>. It is
declaring conformance to XHTML 1.0 Transitional, which is based off of
the HTML 4.01 specification, which defines <cite> as "a citation or a
reference to other sources."

To the issue of <cite> in HTML5, using <cite> as "title of work"
provides for no distinction between editions or translations of works.

>  6. It does not mean anything to say "this is a citation"; this definition
> is too ambiguous to be useful.

I obviously disagree. "<cite> identifies a title" is too narrow a
definition to be useful.

Erik Vorhes

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