[whatwg] Using footer in blockquote for attribution
Jukka K. Korpela
jkorpela at cs.tut.fi
Tue Jul 5 12:44:34 PDT 2011
2011-07-01 11:26, Simon Pieters wrote:
>>> Simon felt that “Content inside a blockquote must be quoted from
>>> another source” excludes footer.
> Indeed since it's a conformance requirement, in valid documents the
> content inside blockquote is quoted from another source. If the spec
> were to allow attribution inside blockquote, the above conformance
> requirement would need to be changed to allow it.
I was pretty sure that I had seen an example where a blockquote element
contained an attribution in a footer. Alas, the “living standard” does
not seem to have a version history where I could conveniently check this
Admittedly, there is some logic in requiring that the content of
blockquote be quoted from an external source and nothing more. I wonder
whether this disallows common constructs like “[foo]” to indicate that
“foo” has been added for clarification and is not present in the source.
Anyway, having a blockquote element but no markup for attribution is
very illogical. It is a prime rule in proper quotations, and widely even
required by the copyright laws, that a quotation be accompanied by an
indication of the quoted author and the source of the quotation.
I guess we are supposed to believe in the cite attribute—which is not
supported by browsers or used by authors, and I don’t see how HTML5
could break this vicious circle. (There is no obvious way how browsers
_could_ support it, in a manner that makes sense, i.e. is understandable
to users—there is no common paradigm for presenting attributions when
you only have a URL to play with.) Besides, it’s clearly insufficient
since only the URL can be specified, and surely not all works have URLs,
and other types attributions are often far more permanent than URLs.
The actual usage of blockquote is mostly for indentation. In practice,
it means “indent,” though occasionally the motivation for indentation
might be that the text is quoted. Any software that does something on
the assumption that blockquote actually means quoted text will get
things wrong more often than not.
Thus, the attempt at semantic purification will probably achieve
nothing. People and authoring tools that use blockquote to indent will
keep doing so. People who wish to use proper semantic markup will find
out that they cannot: blockquote isn’t a working solution (it’s already
tainted as presentational markup), and it’s even less so than
previously, since you cannot even “validly” include an attribution in
the element but need to use some random element after the blockquote
>> However, I don't know if there's any specific way to mark this up.
>> It's a common pattern, so it would be a good candidate for adding
>> It's useful to be able to put the author info in its own element so
>> that you can style it differently.
People can do that. But this does not result in any useful default
rendering, and it does not help indexing robots at all.
For block quotations, a fresh start might be better than playing with
the blockquote element, which really belongs to the “compatibility
area”: its default effect on rendering should be clearly specified, and
it could be added that in previous specifications, it has been defined
to mean a block quotation from an external source and it has been used
in that meaning to some extent.
If you think that a semantic element for quotations is needed, then it’s
best to add new elements, at least for a quotation and for an associated
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