[wp-hackers] Tag cloud semantics

Andy Skelton skeltoac at gmail.com
Thu Jan 24 20:56:45 GMT 2008

On Jan 24, 2008 12:38 AM, Ryan McCue <ryanmccue at cubegames.net> wrote:
> Something like this would rule:
> http://24ways.org/examples/marking-up-a-tag-cloud/example.html

Why would it rule? I will reiterate my position that you gain nothing
when you replace rational numbers with classes.

In the example above, the "somewhat popular" class makes all these
values indistinguishable: 44=52=67=85=72. "Ironbridge" (85) is almost
twice as popular as "125 Shaftesbury Avenue" (44) yet they are the
same size.

I do like that the markup includes the values in spans for screen
readers. But why would yo want to cripple visual readers by reducing
the data resolution to six size classes?

This looks to me like semantics/presentation zeal gone overboard.
There is no semantic equivalent for numbers. They are pure values in

If you believe that adding explicit sizes to a tag cloud destroys the
markup's semantic purity, you should check your premise. Are you
trying to help the user? The user is not helped when you destroy the
key idea of a tag cloud, which is this: to convey relative value
differences by VISUAL cues. You can assist the non-visual reader
without hurting the experience for the rest of us.

Now I'm going to counter my own argument by providing an example of
what I believe is the utmost semantic representation of a tag cloud.

Future versions of CSS3 may provide functions to accomplish the same
thing, but that could be ten years away.

Still, I don't think we gain anything by using classes instead of
rational numbers!


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