[whatwg] do not encourage use of small element for legal text
ian at hixie.ch
Thu Jul 30 16:32:39 PDT 2009
On Sun, 19 Jul 2009, Eduard Pascual wrote:
> On Sun, Jul 19, 2009 at 12:29 PM, Ian Hickson <ian at hixie.ch> wrote:
> > [...]
> > On Fri, 3 Jul 2009, Eduard Pascual wrote:
> > > It's clear that, despite the spec would currently encourage this
> > > example's markup, it is not a good choice. IMHO, either of these should
> > > be used instead:
> > >
> > > <p>Your 100% satisfaction in the work of SmallCo is guaranteed.
> > > (Guarantee applies only to commercial buildings.)</p>
> > >
> > > or
> > >
> > > <small>Your 100% satisfaction in the work of SmallCo is guaranteed.
> > > (Guarantee applies only to commercial buildings.)</small>
> > In practice, if the author wants to make the parenthetical text smaller,
> > he will. The question is whether we should encourage such small text to be
> > marked up in a way distinguishable from other stylistic <span>s.
> Indeed, making legal text clearly readable should be a goal. However,
> I don't think it is too much a HTML5 goal: afaik, in most countries
> there are general laws that define which kind of text can hold legal
> value on different kinds of media, dealing with details such as
> minimum size and color contrasts for each media, maximum speed for
> running text (like bottom-screen text on TV ads), and so on. Of
> course, these will vary from country to country and/or region to
> region; but IMHO general law is the area where legal text should be
> handled with. Authors hence should find advice about the actual
> requirements for legal text to be legally binding (ie: asking their
> lawyers for advice), and honor such restrictions when putting a
> webpage together.
> It is pointless to make specific encouragements or discouragements on
> how to include legal text on an HTML5 document: a good advice may
> backfire if it leads a good-intended author to do something that
> doesn't match local laws on that regard; and evil-intended users will
> ignore any advice from the spec and just push as much as they can to
> the edge, looking for the most "hard-to-read-but-still-legal" possible
> The basic task of HTML (the language itself, not the spec defining it)
> is to provide authors with tools to build their documents and pages in
> an interoperable way. HTML5 does well that job in the area of small
> print, providing the <small> element to mark it up. That's exactly
> enough, and IMHO there is no point on trying to go further.
The spec now has no encouragements at all. This is all it says:
# The small element represents small print or other side comments.
It then has two non-normative comments:
# Small print is typically legalese describing disclaimers, caveats, legal
# restrictions, or copyrights. Small print is also sometimes used for
# The small element does not "de-emphasize" or lower the importance of
# text emphasized by the em element or marked as important with the strong
This is about as neutral as I can make it while still keeping it useful.
> > > I'm not sure if the word "legalese" was intended to refer to all kinds
> > > of legal text, or just the "suspicios or useless" ones. In any case, a
> > > more accurate wording would help.
> > This wording is vague intentionally, because it is a vague observation. I
> > don't know how we could make it more accurate.
> If vagueness is intentional, just take thing explicitly vague, rather
> than a term that some may just take as "vague" but others may take as
> "catch-all" and others seem to even find offensive/despective.
I really don't understand this objection.
> > > First, leave the formal description "The small element represents
> > > small print or other side comments." as is: IMHO it is accurate and
> > > simple, and that's quite enough to ask from a spec.
> > >
> > > Next, replace the note that reads "Small print is typically legalese
> > > describing disclaimers, caveats, legal restrictions, or copyrights.
> > > Small print is also sometimes used for attribution." with something
> > > like this: "Small print is often used for *some* forms of legal text
> > > and for attribution. [...]"
> > >
> > > This makes clear that HTML (technically) allows using <small> to put
> > > legal text (or anything else) in small print, but it doesn't
> > > encourage any specific usage of small print.
> > I'm not convinced the suggested text is any better than the current
> > text, to be honest. [...]
> [...] The key on the sentence "Small print is often used for *some*
> forms of legal text and for attribution." is the emphasis on "some":
> this should be enough for any reader to understand that, if only some
> forms go on small print, other forms just don't. The "some" achieves
> your intended vagueness, and the emphasis makes such vagueness explicit
> enough. The current wording "small print is typically used for
> legalesse" is not just vague, but as ambiguous as the term "legalesse"
> itself: a significant proportion of authors might miss-understand it and
> assume that any form of legal text is legalesse, so it can be on small
> print, but it isn't require to be so (because of the "typically").
> Addressing this potential missunderstanding is the exact intent of my
> proposed text.
I really am finding it very difficult to have any concern over this
particular text, but in the interests of moving on, I've changed the text
so it doesn't say "legalese".
Ian Hickson U+1047E )\._.,--....,'``. fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/ U+263A /, _.. \ _\ ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer. `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'
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