[whatwg] alt="" and the <meta name=generator> exception

Jukka K. Korpela jkorpela at cs.tut.fi
Mon Aug 6 12:18:14 PDT 2012

On 5.8.2012 15:52, Henri Sivonen wrote:
> People who are not the developer of the generator use validators to
> assess the quality of the markup generated by the generator.
People can use tools in various ways. We cannot prevent that. But it 
does not need to dictate the design of tools. People can use hammers as 
toothpicks, but hammer manufacturers don't make hammers softer for this 

> Or, alternatively, Alice anticipates Bob's reaction and preemptively
> makes her generator output alt="" before Bob ever gets to badmouth
> about the invalidity of the generator's output.

So? Whose problem is this? Generators have generated nonsensical alt 
attributes for years, e.g. inserting the filename and number of bytes. 
Keeping the attribute required won't make much difference.

> Even if we wanted to position validators as tools for the people who
> write markup, we can't prevent other people from using validators to
> judge markup output by generator written by others.
And it is appropriate to judge that generation of HTML has problems, 
when the markup contains img elements without alt attributes. There is 
no reason why this possibility should be taken away. It is true that 
generator vendors can cheat by emitting alt="". We can't really prevent 
that. You seem to be worried about the possibility that keeping alt 
attribute required somehow pushes or forces vendors into doing such 
things to stay competitive. But this sounds highly speculative.

We know that generators and other software may produce documents without 
a title element or with a dummy or bogus title element like <title>New 
document</title>. And surely there are situations where an automatic 
generator has no way of deciding on an appropriate title element without 
consulting the user. So should there also be an exception allowing the 
omission of the title element, to avoid the assumed reaction by Alice, 
making her generator produce <title></title> or something worse?


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