[whatwg] the cite element

tjeddo tjeddo at gmail.com
Tue Nov 3 08:51:56 PST 2009

On Thu, Oct 15, 2009 at 4:51 PM, Ian Hickson <ian at hixie.ch> wrote:
> Now, if we do in fact conclude that the use case for \cite{} is already
> handled by <a href="">, that leaves us with the choice of what to do for
> titles of works. We could make <cite> obsolete and introduce a new
> element, with the same default styles, and with a better name, like <work>
> or <wtitle> or <tow> or something. However, support for the element would
> take years to be deployed enough to be usable, and in the meantime
> browsers would still have the support of <cite>, so this would not be a
> cheap solution. On the other hand, if we just reuse <cite>, by slightly
> adjusting the definition in HTML4, we end up with a solution more or less
> for free.

I concede, given portions of your previous arguments, that <a href="">
is sufficient for citing bibliographic entries represented in HTML.
Redefining the <cite> element for the purpose of supporting
bibliographic citations (according to the scheme I previously
proposed) probably adds too much additional complexity that would
likely go underused by page authors. I am at least happy that the
current HTML5 definition of cite for marking up the "titles of works"
has been refined from the HTML4 version.

However, I do have a small proposal that I would be interested in
hearing feedback on.
What if a standard link type called "citation" was added to the HTML5
specification? For example,

<a href="#bibentry-jones" rel="citation">[Jones, p. 88]</a>

After reviewing all the other link types and their corresponding
definitions in current draft specification this seems like a
consistent addition.
The value proposition here is that a standardized way to explicitly
indicate a "bibliographic citation" is available to authors that can
be exploited by search engines to improve the relevance of searches. I
acknowledge that I do not speak for the makers of major commercial
search engines but I do have some experience in the area of structured
search. I'd wager that providing this standardized semantic hook
(i.e., rel="citation") could only open up opportunities for new
functionality at little cost to the HTML5 specification.

>> By the way, what is the reasoning in the HTML5 spec for stating that
>> ship names should not be marked up with <cite> but should use <i>
>> instead?
>> I guess I'm saying, why are ships not considered "works?"
> I suppose one could indeed make a somewhat convincing argument that a ship
> is a work. I'm not sure I'd want to try to sell that though. I've removed
> the sentence that says a ship isn't a work, but I haven't added ships to
> the list works.

Thanks. I believe not going out of your way to indicate that a ship
name is not the title of a work is a safe decision.

The definition I have in mind when I think of a "work" is along the
lines of "something produced or accomplished by effort, exertion, or
the exercise of skill <this book is the work of my hands>" - Merriam
Webster Dictionary
(http://www.aolsvc.merriam-webster.aol.com/dictionary/work). Which I
believe would include a ship as well as sculptures and books.
Although, I agree it is more common to reference works from literature
or art than engineering as their primary purpose is to convey
information through observation/analysis.


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