[whatwg] <summary> tag to help avoid redundancy of meta description tag!?

Ashley Sheridan ash at ashleysheridan.co.uk
Thu Mar 18 02:04:41 PDT 2010

On Thu, 2010-03-18 at 03:37 +0100, Roger Hågensen wrote:

> I searched the list, and looked at the HTML5 briefly and found nothing, 
> nor can I ever recall such.
> So this is both a question and a proposal.
> On my own site currently I mostly replicate the first paragraph of an 
> article in my journal as the meta description,
> and write one up for other pages, usually replicating some of the content.
> I'm both looking for and want a solution to avoid such redundancy.
> The perfect solution would be a <summary> tag, if you look at the 
> journal articles on my site you can imagine the first paragraph being 
> done like this:
> <p><summary>This is just an example, it's a replacement for the old meta 
> description, and is a brief summary (description) of the page 
> (content)</summary></p>
> This way the first paragraph in a page would remain unchanged from how 
> it is done today, and a search engine like Google or screen readers etc. 
> would use the summary tag instead
> of the meta description (which is no longer needed at all in cases like 
> this), if more than one summary tag the first is considered the page 
> summary one, while the others are ignored (but still shown as content 
> obviously).
> If a new tag is overkill for this, maybe doing it this way instead 
> (using one of the new HTML5 tags):
> <p><header summary>This is just an example, it's a replacement for the 
> old meta description, and is a brief summary (description) of the page 
> (content)</header></p>
> I really do not care how this is implemented/speced just as long as it's 
> possible to do.
> I began thinking of this recently when it annoyed me that I basically 
> had to enter the same content twice, after looking at my site links in 
> Google,
> and thought to myself...Why do I have to use a meta description to tell 
> Google to show the content in the first paragraph as the default summary 
> of the page link?
> Why can't I simply specify that the first paragraph "is" the page's meta 
> description? Why am I forced to bloat the page unnecessarily like this?
> Thee is no reason why the meta description can not be the actual content 
> as in most cases I've seen the meta description is supposed to be fully 
> human readable,
> unlike the meta keywords which no search engines bothers with at all any 
> more.
> So if the meta description is supposed to be humanly readable and 
> displayable as the page summary to humans in search results,
> why can't it also actually "be" in the page content?
> I can see at least two ways this will be used. The more elegant way I 
> showed, where the first paragraph is a summary/the lead in of the page 
> (and also happens to be the "teaser" content in my RSS feed as well),
> or at the bottom of a page with possibly linked category tags or similar 
> within it, again allowing dual purpose and reduced redundancy.
> To re-iterate, the idea of the summary tag (or however it is 
> implemented) should be to have a human readable summary (or teaser as 
> may be) of a page, which is itself shown in the page,
> but also a replacement for search engines that use the old meta 
> description avoiding redundancy.
> End result is (hopefully) less redundancy, and higher quality summary 
> (page description) shown in search engine results, and so on.
> Also allowing people to quickly understand what a page is about by just 
> reading the first paragraph (or be enticed to read more).
> Now if something like this allready exist/is possible I stand corrected 
> and ask, please tell me how to do that.
> If not then I'd love to see something like this standardized.
> BTW! The text in the first paragraph of this very email could for 
> example be the summary/description of this email.
> So if it was html tagged in some way, a mail indexing or search engine 
> could use that as the summary or description view shown to a human user 
> scrolling through archived emails.
> Regards,
> Roger.

The main problem with that would be that parsers would then need to read
into the <body> of the page to produce a description of your site. This
might not produce much of an overhead on a one-off basis, but imagine a
parser that is grabbing the description from hundreds or thousands of
pages, then this could become a bit of a problem.


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