[wp-hackers] Re: [wp-svn] [2476] trunk/wp-admin/quicktags.js:

Matthew Thomas mpt at myrealbox.com
Sun Mar 27 23:52:26 GMT 2005

David House wrote:
> But surely that hanging our heads in resignation and going with
> presentational markup that won't do any good for the semantic web at
> large,

That is true. Making incorrect <em>/<strong> easy won't do any good 
either. The difference is that overused presentational markup doesn't do 
any *harm*.

> why not try and educate new WordPress users in how the web is
> different? It doesn't need to be an involved discussion at all, just
> mention something like 'To emphasise your words, use the "em"
> quicktag. To use a citation, use the "cite" quicktags around the
> address of your citation.

Citation? <cite>http://you.mean.like.this/?</cite> Oops, not quite.

"Like this, perhaps?" <cite>Albert Einstein</cite> asked. No, that's not 
correct either. (Very smart people like Mark Pilgrim and Ian Hickson 
might think it's correct; but several hundred years of typographical 
convention, and many hundreds of millions of installed Web browsers, 
make it wrong.)

How about <cite>Fallujah Calm After Weekend Violence</cite>, <cite>The 
Wall Street Journal</cite>, p. 23? Nope, that's wrong too (for a similar 

<cite> is deceptively difficult to explain.

> These may be presented the same but it's still important to make the
 > distinction

But, see, that wouldn't be telling the truth. We're all hoping that one 
day there will be user agents that make the distinction between <em> and 
<cite> and <i>, and between <strong> and <th> and <b>, but (with minor 
Web-service exceptions) they don't exist yet.

WordPress developers could begin encouraging a distinction between 
<cite> and the other italic elements by putting something like cite, 
cite:link {color: #006; background: transparent;} in the style sheets 
for all its shipped-by-default themes. You could encourage the 
developers of other Weblog software, popular Wikis, and so on to do the 
same. (Unfortunately browser vendors probably wouldn't participate, lest 
<cite> disappear on pages with forest-green backgrounds.) Gradually the 
reader and author populations would build up awareness that <cite> is 
different from <i> and <em>. (Another thing that might help <cite> in 
WordPress is rewarding people for using it by automatically searching 
for matching titles to link to on B&N/IMDB/whatever.)

Distinguishing the other semantic elements may not be attractively 
possible. For example, I'd like to be able to suggest that <strong> 
could be made a different color too, but then people would think it was 
a link, because too many badly-designed Web sites have already used 
:link {font-weight: bold; color: something; text-decoration: none}.

> Of course, links could be provided to more in-depth discussion if
 > required.

Which, regrettably, people won't read, because they don't care.

> Display a couple of paragraphs to that effect on the Successful
> Installation screen, then I think these sorts of issues will start to
> disappear.

If I had a dollar for every time someone had suggested that 
explanations/preferences/warnings about their own pet hobbyhorse should 
be presented to users when they install Mozilla, I'd be a rich man -- 
and people still wouldn't read them, because they still wouldn't care. 
Same thing applies to WordPress, only moreso, because WordPress *boasts* 
of having a five-minute installation 

> And for the record, I don't think that any rich-text editor that tries
> to ape a word processor will ever work in conjunction with the
> semantic web.

That may be true, but it won't be the word-processor-like editors that 
cede existence. Humans like them too much.

Matthew Thomas

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