[whatwg] <comment> element

Richard Summers Richard.Summers at bbc.co.uk
Mon Dec 19 07:26:45 PST 2011

Hi Nikhilesh,

I also brought this up in 2010, after working on the Comments solution for
the BBC.



As <comment> isn't completely backwards compatible, I personally liked the
idea of using <feedback> or <response>. Interesting that this keeps coming


Rich Summers 
Senior Client Side Developer
Social Publishing Platform
BC4 D6
Future Media & Technology
BBC Broadcast Centre
201 Wood Lane 
London W12 7TP

On 14/12/2011 04:37, "Nikhilesh Jasuja" <nikhilesh at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi,
> I wanted to see if WHATWG had had any discussions on a semantic element for
> user-generated comments. It's an idea I wanted to propose myself. Found this
> thread<http://lists.whatwg.org/htdig.cgi/whatwg-whatwg.org/2011-September/0330
> 83.html>that
> Shaun Moss started and this
> one<http://lists.whatwg.org/htdig.cgi/whatwg-whatwg.org/2010-December/029459.h
> tml>
> exactly
> 1 year ago. Has there been further discussion on this after September 6?
> My takeaway from these discussions has been:
>    1. Semantically, user comments are indeed a different type of content.
>    At least as much as <footer>, if not more so.
>    2. IE < 9 treats <comment> as an HTML comment. So the new element will
>    have to be called something else. <cmnt> was proposed.
>    3. Two new elements may be required:
>       1. to denote a single comment e.g. <cmnt>
>       2. to denote a collection of comments, perhaps also including the
>       chrome and widgets used for commenting e.g. <commentsarea>
>    4. Use cases for the new element(s) include
>       1. Users being able to hide comments and comment areas. (I'd like to t
>       2. Easier syndication of both the comments and the parent <article>
>       (because parent is now unencumbered/uncorrupted by user comments)
>       3. A signal to search engines analogous to rel=nofollow ("Yes this
>       content is on my website but I can't attest to its quality")
>       4. Screen readers can navigate comments more easily..or skip them
>       altogether
>    5. The problems with using nested <article>s for comments are:
>       1. A nested <article> does not necessarily mean a user-generated
>       comment. So it's ambiguous.
>       2. For threaded conversations, there would be a lot of nesting.
>       Nesting in and of itself is not a bad thing but when trying to syndicate
>       the original (parent) <article>, this becomes difficult. A <cmnt
>       for="thearticle"> is more elegant.
>       3. A webmaster may want to structure markup in a way that makes
>       nesting difficult. e.g. <article id="thearticle">..</article><div
>       class="advert">..</div><div
>       id="relatedcontent">..</div><commentsarea><form><textarea>your opinions
>       here</textarea><button>Submit</button></form><cmnt
>       for="thearticle">BS!!</cmnt></commentsarea>. In such cases, forcing the
>       comments to be nested <article>s would require unnecessary CSS
> calisthenics
>       to make it look right.
>    6. Alternatives:
>       1. Use <article type=comment>
>       2. A new attribute "in-reply-to" can be used. e.g. <article
>       id="themainarticle">Moms rock</article><article id="comment1"
>       in-reply-to="themainarticle">you bet</article>
>    7. More suggestions for the name of the elements:
>       1. <usercomment>, <opinion>, <opin>, <publiccomment>, <ucomment> (U
>       for user), <feedback>, <response>
>       2. <commentsarea>, <opinionsarea>, <commentset>, <discussion>
> What's the process for introducing new elements into the spec? It must be
> non-trivial ..a new element is a pretty big deal. Do people discuss on the
> mailing list, agree it must be done and then some people volunteer to write
> the spec? I want to help (if the more knowledgeable minds in the group
> agree these new elements are a good idea).
> Nikhilesh Jasuja
> ---
> www.diffen.com
> Diffen. Discern. Decide.

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