[whatwg] The blockquote element spec vs common quoting practices
Jukka K. Korpela
jkorpela at cs.tut.fi
Sun Jul 17 11:36:36 PDT 2011
17.07.2011 18:07, Nils Dagsson Moskopp wrote:
>>> But browsers need to be told that that number close to the quotation
>>> is an ISBN.
>> The string “ISBN” is sufficient evidence of that.
> Someone would need to standardize “ISBN sniffing behaviour” for UAs
> then. Could you make a proposal?
I think it would be rather trivial. The string “ISBN” followed by
something that matches the syntax of ISBN numbers, perhaps allowing some
variation in punctuation, could be treated as an implicit link to a
resource _if_ you have some mechanism(s) for mapping ISBN numbers to URLs.
The key issue is whether browser vendors have interest in it and which
mechanism(s) would be used. After all, an ISBN could be in a multitude
of ways, like querying an online bookshop, querying an online
bibliographic system, or querying an site of books in digital format
online. Which one should be used? Would it be useful? To be really
useful, it should be handled so that the browser checks what it can get
using the ISBN and then make that information available to user (how to
get bibliographic info, how to read reviews, how to buy the book, how to
borrow it in a library, download or read the book via the net for free
or for fee).
> Are any reasons for not doing anything with that information known?
> Probably a more basic issue: Is the cite attribute actually used?
I don’t think it’s much used in the wild, except on pages by
organizations that define HTML specs. What might be the motivation for
browsers to do something special with it? Surely you could make things
so that by clicking on a blockquote, the user accesses the resource
pointed to by the cite attribute. Browsers could do that, and so could
authors. But would users actually start clicking on quotations to see
their sources? Surely they would far more probably click on the title of
a work in visible credits if present and if it is a link, so what would
the cite attribute help?
>>> <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…)
> This is a category error. “Machine-readable” in this context does not
> mean “digital information”.
No, it’s not a category thing. It’s about the relativity of being
“machine-readable.” You are probably thinking of data in a specific
format designed to be easily parseable and useable by computer software,
such as a URL, an ISO 8601 date notation, or an XML tag. But browsers
already do many kinds of heuristics, parsing data that doesn’t really
match the specs.
A title of a work is easily useable by software: put it inside quotation
marks and throw it at Google, and the odds are that you get some useful
links related to it, if there’s info on the work (and perhaps the work
itself) on the web at all. Well, assuming that the title is relatively
Titles of works are often more useful in the long run than URLs. URLs
change far too often when sites are revamped or for other reasons.
I think a good start would be to add an optional (but usually
recommended) <credits> or <source> element for use inside <blockquote>.
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