[whatwg] sic element

Henri Sivonen hsivonen at iki.fi
Tue Aug 2 02:04:08 PDT 2011

On Fri, 2011-07-29 at 22:39 +0000, Ian Hickson wrote:
> > > If it's ok if it's entirely ignored, then it's presentational, and not 
> > > conveying any useful information.
> > 
> > Presentational markup may convey useful information, for example that a 
> > quotation from printed matter contains an underlined word.
> HTML is the wrong language for this kind of thing.

I disagree. From time to time, people want to take printed matter an
publish it on the Web. In practice, the formats available are PDF and
HTML. HTML works more nicely in browsers and for practical purposes
works generally better when the person taking printed matter to the Web
decides that the exact line breaks and the exact font aren't of
importance. They may still consider it of importance to preserve bold,
italic and underline and maybe even delegate that preservation to OCR
software that has no clue about semantics. (Yes, bold, italic and
underline are qualitatively different from line breaks and the exact
font even if you could broadly categorize them all as presentational

I think it's not useful for the Web for you to decree that HTML is the
wrong language for this kind of thing. There's really no opportunity to
launch a new format precisely for that use case. Furthermore, in
practice, HTML already works fine for this kind of thing. The technical
solution is there already. You just decree it "wrong" as a matter of
principle. When introducing new Web formats is prohibitively hard and
expensive, I think it doesn't make sense to take the position that
something that already works is "the wrong language". 

> I think you are confused as to the goals here. The presentational markup 
> that was <u>, <i>, <b>, <font>, <small>, etc, is gone.

I think the reason why Jukka and others seem to be confused about your
goals is that your goals here are literally incredible from the point of
view of other people. Even though you've told me f2f what you believe
and I want to trust that you are sincere in your belief, I still have a
really hard time believing that you believe what you say you believe
about the definitions of <b>, <i> and <u>. When after discussing this
with you f2f, I still find your position incredible, I think it's not at
all strange if other people when reading the spec text interpret your
goals inaccurately because your goals don't seem like plausible goals to

If if the word "presentational" carries too much negative baggage, I
suggest defining <b>, <i> and <u> as typographic elements on visual
media (and distinctive elements on other media) and adjusting the
rhetoric that HTML is a semantic markup language to HTML being a mildly
semantic markup language that also has common phrase-level typographic

Henri Sivonen
hsivonen at iki.fi

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