[whatwg] The blockquote element spec vs common quoting practices

Ian Hickson ian at hixie.ch
Sun Feb 12 13:25:52 PST 2012

On Sun, 12 Feb 2012, Jukka K. Korpela wrote:
> 2012-02-12 19:54, Ian Hickson wrote:
> > > 
> > > The <blockquote> has been, and will be, rather pointless without 
> > > markup for “credits” (indication of author and source, which are 
> > > normally required by law).
> > 
> > What's the use case, other than presentation?
> What’s the use case for markup for quotations in general, other than 
> presentation?

The use case for most of the "semantic" markup is jsut easier authoring 
and maintenance, in particular for selectors in CSS. In the case of 
<blockquote>, we inherited it from HTML4 and so use cases weren't really a 
driving factor in the contemporary specification's development of the 
feature; it was more driven by consistency concerns. (Same as with, e.g., 
<dfn>, <strong>, and other "semantic" elements.)

> At the same level, “credits” can be used in editing and checking 
> tools to verify that all quotations have credits (issuing warnings about 
> those that don’t); in automatically generating a list of references; 
> in an optional browsing mode where credits are hidden, with a button 
> available for opening them; in finding out (even web-wide) which 
> documents quote a certain document.

Do any tools try to do any of this? If there are concrete use cases with 
software that is trying to address the use case and authors who want to 
use that software, then we should definitely look at the use cases. But we 
need to study the use cases and software, if that's the case.

> If we think that markup for quotations will not have much practical use, 
> then it’s better to omit such markup altogether (and tell people to 
> use whatever markup they like, maybe even <blockquote> if they prefer 
> indentation).

The practical use of moderately simplified maintenance is sufficient to 
justify keeping elements that are already deployed. I agree that if we 
didn't have the legacy here we probably wouldn't add <blockquote> or <q>, 
but that's water under the bridge.

Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'

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