[whatwg] <comment> element in HTML5 Spec?

Tab Atkins Jr. jackalmage at gmail.com
Mon Dec 13 11:23:22 PST 2010

On Mon, Dec 13, 2010 at 10:49 AM, Richard Summers
<Richard.Summers at bbc.co.uk> wrote:
> Hi gang,
> I wonder if anyone can help me...
> I attended  great talk today by Bruce Lawson from Opera about HTML5. I was
> wondering, is there any plan to implement a <comment> element within the
> HTML5 spec? I’m suggesting this as a complimentary element to the <article>
> element.
> I believe it could be useful as it could be used to differentiate between
> audience generated content and article-author generated content. This could
> enable search engines to differentiate between the 2 types of content, and
> weigh them differently in different searches. Semantically and structurally,
> something like this seems to make sense.
> This would mean huge implications for all the blogs out there, and the
> increasing number of commenting systems on News outlets.
> Cool, let me know if this has already been covered, or if it’s not a good
> idea, why? :)

The idea is potentially interesting.  Right now, the correct way to
mark up comments is to just put each in an <article> of their own (as
each is a piece of independent content).

What benefits could be brought along by instead using <comment>?  I
can think of a few potential benefits:

1. Differentiating between the main article and user-generated content
in response (you bring this up).  Would this be useful for search
engines?  I'm not sure.  Would it be useful to weight comment content
differently from article content?  Perhaps weight links in comments
less than links in the rest of the page?

2. Providing a bit more information to screen-readers that may
navigate by headings or sections, to make it easier to skip to or over
the comments on a post.

3. Make the authoring pattern a bit more obvious - rather than having
to learn that it's okay and recommended to nest <article>s like that,
authors could just naturally gravitate towards using <article> and
<comment> together.

One thing to note - <comment> has already been used by IE6 and earlier
as an alternative to the <!-- --> syntax for HTML comments.  They
apparently stopped supporting this in IE7, though (I can confirm that
it no longer does anything special in IE8), so we probably don't have
to worry about it.  No other browser does anything special for it, it
seems, so the compat impact is apparently small enough to be ignored.


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