[uf-new] Metadata/machine-readable data patterns

Bob Jonkman bjonkman at sobac.com
Sat Mar 15 12:50:01 PST 2008

This is what Sarven Capadisli <microformats-new at microformats.org> said
about "Re: [uf-new] Metadata/machine-reada" on 14 Mar 2008 at 18:22

> @title value in <abbr> is not hidden data. The user is able to hover
> the element and get to the information. 

Respectfully, I disagree.  The display of the "title" attribute is entirely dependent on 
browser implementation.  Your statement is true enough for GUI browsers, but "title" is 
invisible in text browsers, minimalist browsers (phones, PDAs), and any application that 
scrapes HTML for the page content.  I don't think there's anything in the HTML spec that 
_requires_ conforming implementations to show or speak the value of a "title" 

> [...] b) human readable standardised
> date/timestamp. <abbr> is "good enough" for this or at least the most
> semantic candidate with minimal negative impact.  Screen readers may
> have a problem with it only because of the way they are configured to
> treat the data. 

Again I disagree. It is not "good enough". It is "broken". The microformat use of <abbr> 
is interfering with screen readers' use of the Web.

For every other aspect of microformats we insist that the behaviour of the microformat 
follows usage found "in the wild".  Here we have a documented case where the microformat 
use of <abbr> does not match the use of screen readers "in the wild".  It is likely that 
screen reader users have a much larger use base than microformat users, and it is 
unreasonable for the microformat community to expect the screen reader users and 
developers to re-engineer their products to conform to an abitrary microformat standard, 
especially now that Nelson Menezes has found a standards-compliant method to achieve the 
same purpose without causing interference with screen readers.

We have here the opportunity to correct an oversight that's causing grief for a 


[1] http://www.w3.org/TR/html401/struct/global.html#adef-title

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