[whatwg] The blockquote element spec vs common quoting practices

Jukka K. Korpela jkorpela at cs.tut.fi
Sun Jul 17 07:09:54 PDT 2011

15.07.2011 19:56, Bjartur Thorlacius wrote:

> On 7/15/11, Jukka K. Korpela<jkorpela at cs.tut.fi>  wrote:
>> Should it? Even when the book has no URL? If you expect urn:isbn:… to
>> work anytime soon in any significant browser, you’re very optimistic.
> Wikipedia and Amazon (among others) have all the mechanisms already.
> Such ISBN handlers could even be registered by JavaScripts.

Pardon? The issue is browser support to urn:isbn:…, not mechanisms that 
map ISBNs to some URLs in some system.

>> Browsers currently treat<cite>  just like<i>  (except that it has a
>> different name). There is no sign of advance functionality emerging. It
>> does not matter how usable something is when it does not exist at all.
> <Cite>  is not nearly as useful as @cite.

<cite> is useful for using italics in a manner that makes you feel more 
structural. The cite attribute is completely useless unless you set up 
some processing of your own, just as a site could use for the foobar 
attribute (or data-foobar)

> So you're saying that users should rather search for the term ISBN,
> select the following number, copy it, remove/add hyphens as necessary
> and then paste it to a suitable bibliographic search form?

No, I’m saying that a proper quotation cites a book unambiguously, and 
ISBNs are a useful tool there and should then appear in content proper, 
not hidden in an attribute that browsers ignore. It’s wishful thinking 
to say that cite attributes magically turn ISBN numbers to cool queries 
or links. If a browser, or some client-side JavaScript, can do something 
like that to a cite attribute, it could equally well do that to content 
like “ISBN” followed by a number of a certain type. That would be much 
more useful.

> But browsers need to be told that that number close to the quotation
> is an ISBN.

The string “ISBN” is sufficient evidence of that.

> Before you said<cite>  was implemented as<i>, and your point is that
> the cite attribute is useless?


 > They're barely related,

They are both supposed to be used for citations. I think <cite> is 
actually used quite a lot, though not always consistently, whereas the 
cite attribute mostly occurs in W3C and related documents.

 > @cite contains
> an URI, that an user agent might be able to use in an automated
> fashion.

Might be able, but doesn’t. Can you mention one browser that actually 
does something useful with it? And it isn’t a particularly new feature 
in specifications; browser vendors have had plenty of time to implement it.

> <Cite> contains a human-readable name of a work. That'll
> rarely be machine-readable.

HTML documents are always machine-readable. (Well, you _might_ just 
write HTML on a paper with a pen…)

Association of a URL of the quoted work with a blockquote element is not 
_required_. Human-readable indication of the quoted work and its author 
is a legal requirement as well as a matter of appropriateness, so it 
should have priority over any kind of linking. When there is markup for 
such indications, and even now that there isn’t, you can always _link_ 
to the quoted work—if you have something to link to.

Yucca, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/

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