[whatwg] A new attribute for <video> and low-power devices

Aryeh Gregor Simetrical+w3c at gmail.com
Mon May 18 15:52:03 PDT 2009

On Mon, May 18, 2009 at 5:28 PM, Benjamin M. Schwartz
<bmschwar at fas.harvard.edu> wrote:
> Authors who are only testing on modern desktops will, as you say, likely
> ignore this issue.  I therefore fully expect that they will never set this
> attribute.

Isn't that like saying that authors who are only testing on normal
browsers will likely ignore the longdesc= attribute?  It seems like
most authors do just ignore it, but the ones who don't get it wrong
far more often than they get it right.  In the ~0.1% of images where
longdesc= is used, it's misused literally over 99% of the time:


It thus ends up being so useless for users that even if you do provide
a good longdesc, no one will actually use it.  There's so little
signal and so much noise that screenreader users just don't bother
checking it, if they even know that it exists.

It thus seems like it would be prudent to wait on implementation
experience to see if a new attribute is actually needed here.  Adding
attributes that don't affect most users is a recipe for widespread
misuse.  In the worst case, browsers might very well refuse to support
the attribute because it's come into wide misuse before any browser
actually supports it, so supporting it breaks sites.  (I'm pretty sure
there are examples of this happening, although I can't think of any

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