[whatwg] the cite element

Erik Vorhes erik at textivism.com
Wed Sep 16 04:59:13 PDT 2009

A few points of clarification:

On Wed, Sep 16, 2009 at 4:16 AM, Ian Hickson <ian at hixie.ch> wrote:
>> Unless there is some semantic value to the name being more than "just" a
>> name, yes.
> Is there?

Yes, and with the removal of the <dialog> element (of which I was
unaware when I sent my last message) makes a compelling case for the
re-expansion of <cite> for dialog.

On October 31, 2006, Michael Fortin suggested the following pattern:
<p><cite>Me:</cite> <q>Can I say something?</q>

Which Jeremy Keith also recommends. [1]

(For longer text it would make more sense to do something like
<cite></cite><blockquote></blockquote>, but that's beside the point.)

You didn't explicitly object to such a pattern (though implemented a
different one for <dialog>) as late as May 5, 2008 [2].

Aside from the current definition of <cite>, I think this would be a
good use of the element, since it makes more sense than <b> or <span>
(what do those signify in this context?) and there's nothing wrong
with an italicized name in this context. Moreover, there are examples
of Fortin/Keith's usage in the wild.

> There's nothing wrong with overriding default presentaional styles, but
> there _is_ something wrong with a spec's defaults being different than
> what authors want.


>> How many sites using <cite> for people's names (or other reasonable uses
>> that deviate from "title of work") would it take to convince you that it
>> _was_ a common case?
> Benjamin already asked me that, I was turning the tables on him when I
> asked the question above. :-)

Oops! I like to think of myself as a better reader than that. Sorry! :)

> I had answered:
>> > A random sample of the Web would need to show more uses of this than
>> > uses of other things.

I'm not sure the lack of majority use should be an impediment, but
that's an issue of conclusions rather than reasoning. (And I
sympathize with needing to draw the line at some point, even if it
makes some of us unhappy or some of us feel it's incorrect.)

> ... I don't understand what your proposal is, at this
> point. How do you define "citation"? What problem does it solve?

I should have made this clearer, I suppose, sorry. What I propose is
that <cite> should be allowed for markup in the following instances:

- titles of works
- full citations
- names and other sources of quote attribution (including identifying
speakers in dialog)
- names of blog post commenters and authors (in the context of their
comments, posts, etc.)

> It doesn't matter how many people say something on this mailing list,
> that's not an unbiased sample. (The people who think <cite> is fine as
> defined in HTML5 don't have motivation to say so, for example.)

I agree that basing decisions exclusively on what is said on the
mailing list is not always the right approach. The length of this
thread (and filtering out your and my messages) suggests that the
representation of voices pro & con (re: <cite> in HTML5) is pretty
close to equal. In other words, it's not just you and a bunch of
cranky folks objecting to the specification (as much as it may feel
that way sometimes).


[1] http://adactio.com/journal/1609/
[2] http://lists.whatwg.org/htdig.cgi/whatwg-whatwg.org/2008-May/014684.html

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