[whatwg] Hide placeholder on input controls on focus

Markus Ernst derernst at gmx.ch
Mon Mar 18 02:31:56 PDT 2013

Hello Whatwg

On several occasions I encountered that users got confused by the 
placeholders on input fields. In a doodle.com survey last week, 2 out of 
5 people answered me via e-mail that they were not able to fill in their 
names in the "name" field, because they tried to highlight and delete 
the placeholder saying "Your name".

Also, some months ago I had phone calls from clients who were desperate 
because they thought they weren't able to log into their Hotmail 
accounts anymore, for the same reason (I think Hotmail has made the 
placeholder highlightable since then).

It seems that a relevant number of users do not even try to start typing 
as long as the placeholder text remains visible.

A short browser comparison shows:
- Firefox and Chrome hide the placeholder when the user starts typing
- Opera and Safari hide it when the field gets focus
- IE I can't test because I haven't IE 10

The Opera and Safari behaviour seems to make sense to me, while the 
behaviour of Firefox and Chrome causes this kind of annoying confusion.

Thus I'd suggest to modify the following sentence in

User agents should present this hint to the user, after having stripped 
line breaks from it, when the element's value is the empty string or the 
control is not focused (or both), e.g. by displaying it inside a blank 
unfocused control and hiding it otherwise.


...when the element's value is the empty string _and_ the control is not 
focused, e.g. by displaying ...

Best Regards
Markus Ernst

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