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Markup problem: P and lists

I take this example from a writer in alt.usage.english
<news://r3********************************@4ax.com>, where the question
of whether the "and" is required came up strictly as an issue of English
usage, because it illustrates a recurring problem in HTML markup.
Bob went to the store for the following reasons:
(1) He had to get groceries for his mother;
(2) He wanted to get out of the house;
(3) He liked a girl who worked at the supermarket; and (?)
(4) He needed cigarettes.
How should this be marked up? Yes, generally, "Bob went to the store..."
is marked up in P and the items as LI in OL. But logically, the list
belongs to the paragraph. (There is also the issue of the "and" which
logically does not belong to any list item, but to the logical paragraph
beginning with "Bob went....")

In HTML, the P element does not allow any block element. The list elements
(UL, OL, and DL) have no element suitable for identifying what the list is a
list of and parts like the "and" must be contained in one of the allowed
list elements (LI, DT, DD). In other words, it is impossible to markup the
above example in a satisfactory way.

<p>Bob went to the store for the following reasons: <br>
(1) He had to get groceries for his mother; <br>
(2) He wanted to get out of the house; <br>
(3) He liked a girl who worked at the supermarket; and <br>
(4) He needed cigarettes.</p>

is of course valid, but BR is presentational and that there really is a list
here is lost.

<ol>Bob went to the store for the following reasons:
<li>He had to get groceries for his mother;</li>
<li>He wanted to get out of the house;</li>
<li>He liked a girl who worked at the supermarket;</liand
<li>He needed cigarettes.</li></ol>

is invalid because "Bob went ..." and "and" are not contained in any list
element.

The usual way we handle this situation,

<p>Bob went to the store for the following reasons:</p>
<ol>
<li>He had to get groceries for his mother;</li>
<li>He wanted to get out of the house;</li>
<li>He liked a girl who worked at the supermarket; and</li>
<li>He needed cigarettes.</li>
</ol>

is valid but not logical because "Bob went ... reasons:" is not logically
a paragraph and "and" does not logically belong to any item. (And of course
there is the purely presentational bother of styling to leave out the
extra line spacing.)

Notice that within a list, it is possible to identify (describe or whatever)
sublists:

<ol>
<li>He had to get groceries for his mother including
<ol>
<li>eggs,</li>
<li>two bottles of Wild Irish Rose,</li>
<li>dog food, and</li>
<li>a dozen condoms;</li>
</ol>
</li>
<li>He wanted to get out of the house;</li>
<li>He liked a girl who worked at the supermarket; and</li>
<li>He needed cigarettes.</li>
</ol>

but there is no element for describing the top-level list.

It seems to me the principal flaw here is that P is not really logical in
HTML. While the absences of a descriptive element from the lists and the
problem of what to do with punctuation and connective matter which do not
really belong to the items is somewhat annoying, the major problem is
that P does not admit any block elements. A similar problem appears with
BLOCKQUOTE. There is not really a logical difference between a short
quotation used in a paragraph and a long one. The difference is purely
presentational. When a quotation is used as evidence (as opposed to
dialogue), there is no reason in principle that the decision of whether to
display it inline or as a blockquote could not be left up to the user agent,
according to how long it is in relation to the current display (for example,
a common rule is to use a blockquote-like presentation when the material is
longer than two lines --- and only the user-agent knows what two lines is or
even if there is such a thing as a line of some length).

P would be more logical if it admitted some block elements.

--
Lars Eighner <http://larseighner.com/ <http://myspace.com/larseighner>
Countdown: 494 days to go.
What do you do when you're debranded?
Sep 13 '07 #1
12 1960
Stefan Ram wrote:
Lars Eighner <us****@larseighner.comwrites:
>Bob went to the store for the following reasons:
(1) He had to get groceries for his mother;
(2) He wanted to get out of the house;
(3) He liked a girl who worked at the supermarket; and (?)
(4) He needed cigarettes.

NB: In Usenet, ">" at the start of a line, usually indicates a
quotation from the posting at the end of the References-header.

A quotation from the W3C Recommendation »HTML 4.01 Specification«:

<DL>
<DT><STRONG>Lower cost</STRONG>
<DD>The new version of this product costs significantly less than the
previous one!

To show, that the dt element does not need
to be a defined term in the strictest sense.

Thus,

<dl>
<dt>Bob went to the store for the following reasons:</dt>
<dd>
<ol>
<li>He had to get groceries for his mother;</li>
<li>He wanted to get out of the house;</li>
<li>He liked a girl who worked at the supermarket; and</li>
<li>He needed cigarettes.</li></ol></dd></dl>
Assuming a list is understand to be a thing with more than one item,
this would be semantically improper on the grounds that this DL only
contains one term/definition item.
Sep 13 '07 #2
Scripsit Stefan Ram:
A quotation from the W3C Recommendation »HTML 4.01 Specification«:
You're quoting a bad example, not a normative definition.
To show, that the dt element does not need
to be a defined term in the strictest sense.
No, it's just an example that violates the semantics expressed in the
normative prose.

This has been discussed dozens of times in this group. And as usual, the
proposed abuse of <dlwins absolutely nothing. You get a semantic
connection, but a wrong one, and with no useful implications. You get some
rendering, but other approaches actually give more easily styleable
constructs.

--
Jukka K. Korpela ("Yucca")
http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/

Sep 13 '07 #3
In our last episode,
<dl***************@ram.dialup.fu-berlin.de>,
the lovely and talented Stefan Ram
broadcast on comp.infosystems.www.authoring.html:
Lars Eighner <us****@larseighner.comwrites:
>>Bob went to the store for the following reasons:
(1) He had to get groceries for his mother;
(2) He wanted to get out of the house;
(3) He liked a girl who worked at the supermarket; and (?)
(4) He needed cigarettes.
NB: In Usenet, ">" at the start of a line, usually indicates a
quotation from the posting at the end of the References-header.
You just made that up that part about the References header.

As it happens, it is a quotation from the article cited explicitly
in the preceding text (which you snipped).
--
Lars Eighner <http://larseighner.com/ <http://myspace.com/larseighner>
Countdown: 494 days to go.
What do you do when you're debranded?
Sep 13 '07 #4
Scripsit Stefan Ram:
You seem to know better than what is written down and are
therefore able to judge which parts of the specification
are to be ignored as »false« and which are to be obeyed,
while I choose to take the specification and its wording
for what it says.
No, I am just accustomed to reading standards and specifications, and
writing them too, so I can tell the difference between normative and
non-normative content. Examples are, even without any explicit statement
about their status, just examples, not normative.

When the HTML 4.01 specification _defines_ something normatively, then
presents examples that contradict the normative part, we can take this as a
symptom of a sloppy process. But if we want to argue in terms of what is
semantically or otherwise correct HTML 4.01, then the normative parts are
what matters.

Quite obviously, some people who participated in writing that stuff wanted
to define a "description list" element, but other people (or the same
people's other ideas, far from being crystal clear) made the specification
say "definition" and "term".

The conclusion is, not surprisingly, that <dlis basically good for
nothing. There is nothing to be won by using it.

--
Jukka K. Korpela ("Yucca")
http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/

Sep 14 '07 #5
Scripsit Stefan Ram:
<dt>definition
<dd>A declaration that reserves storage (for data) or provides

. When one searches for a definition of »definition«

http://google.to/search?q=define%3Adefinition

, this snippet is actually found.
What makes you think it has anything to do with the _markup_ used?

_If_ it had something to do with it, then it would be a strong argument
against using <dlfor anything but lists of definitions for terms, since
such usage would imply seriously misleading search results.
According to the HTML 4.01 specification, it is a list of
mappings (pairs) belonging to a certain relation, like
product-and-advantages, speaker-and-text, or term-and-definition.
You still haven't checked what the specification says _normatively_ - how it
_defines_ the semantics of <dl>, as opposite to examples and notes about how
it could be used bla bla bla.
I tried to report, what the HTML specification specifies
about DL.
It does not help, since you have not paid attention to what it _specifies_:
"Definition lists vary only slightly from other types of lists in that list
items consist of two parts: a term and a description."
What it later says about what the element could be used for does not change
the _meaning_, any more than the defined _meaning_ of <blockquoteis
changed by notes like "some authors have used BLOCKQUOTE merely as a
mechanism to indent text".

--
Jukka K. Korpela ("Yucca")
http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/

Sep 14 '07 #6

"Lars Eighner" <us****@larseighner.comwrote in message
news:sl*******************@debranded.larseighner.c om...
>I take this example from a writer in alt.usage.english
<news://r3********************************@4ax.com>, where the question
of whether the "and" is required came up strictly as an issue of English
usage, because it illustrates a recurring problem in HTML markup.
>Bob went to the store for the following reasons:
>(1) He had to get groceries for his mother;
(2) He wanted to get out of the house;
(3) He liked a girl who worked at the supermarket; and (?)
(4) He needed cigarettes.

How should this be marked up?
snipped
Lars Eighner <http://larseighner.com/>
<http://myspace.com/larseighner>
Countdown: 494 days to go.
What do you do when you're debranded?
If I have one value in the universe it is that I am not afraid to ask the
stupid questions.

Why are you trying to use a fairly good logically structured language to
solve an illogically badly structured question?

This is a simple multi-option list with a mistake in it. Remove the mistake.

If someone has a real problem to solve that requires the discussion
following this post can they please post it.

David F. Cox
Sep 14 '07 #7
In our last episode,
<SM*******************@newsfe5-win.ntli.net>,
the lovely and talented David Cox
broadcast on comp.infosystems.www.authoring.html:

"Lars Eighner" <us****@larseighner.comwrote in message
news:sl*******************@debranded.larseighner.c om...
>>I take this example from a writer in alt.usage.english
<news://r3********************************@4ax.com>, where the question
of whether the "and" is required came up strictly as an issue of English
usage, because it illustrates a recurring problem in HTML markup.
>>Bob went to the store for the following reasons:
>>(1) He had to get groceries for his mother;
(2) He wanted to get out of the house;
(3) He liked a girl who worked at the supermarket; and (?)
(4) He needed cigarettes.

How should this be marked up?
If I have one value in the universe it is that I am not afraid to ask the
stupid questions.
Why are you trying to use a fairly good logically structured language to
solve an illogically badly structured question?
Because natural language is generally illogical and badly structured.
Trying to get natural prose marked up properly is a challenge which I
realize does not occur in soulless geek manuals --- and that soulless geeks
have defined HTML is rather at the heart of the problem.

--
Lars Eighner <http://larseighner.com/ <http://myspace.com/larseighner>
Countdown: 493 days to go.
What do you do when you're debranded?
Sep 15 '07 #8
Lars Eighner wrote:
Because natural language is generally illogical and badly structured.
Trying to get natural prose marked up properly is a challenge which I
realize does not occur in soulless geek manuals --- and that soulless geeks
have defined HTML is rather at the heart of the problem.
Would you prefer a markup language developed by musicians or one
developed by poets?

--
Blinky RLU 297263
Killing all posts from Google Groups
The Usenet Improvement Project:
http://improve-usenet.org <----------- New Site Aug 28
Sep 15 '07 #9

"Lars Eighner" <us****@larseighner.comwrote in message
news:sl********************@debranded.larseighner. com...
In our last episode,
<SM*******************@newsfe5-win.ntli.net>,
the lovely and talented David Cox
broadcast on comp.infosystems.www.authoring.html:

>"Lars Eighner" <us****@larseighner.comwrote in message
news:sl*******************@debranded.larseighner. com...
>>>I take this example from a writer in alt.usage.english
<news://r3********************************@4ax.com>, where the question
of whether the "and" is required came up strictly as an issue of English
usage, because it illustrates a recurring problem in HTML markup.

Bob went to the store for the following reasons:

(1) He had to get groceries for his mother;
(2) He wanted to get out of the house;
(3) He liked a girl who worked at the supermarket; and (?)
(4) He needed cigarettes.

How should this be marked up?
>If I have one value in the universe it is that I am not afraid to ask the
stupid questions.
>Why are you trying to use a fairly good logically structured language to
solve an illogically badly structured question?

Because natural language is generally illogical and badly structured.
Trying to get natural prose marked up properly is a challenge which I
realize does not occur in soulless geek manuals --- and that soulless
geeks
have defined HTML is rather at the heart of the problem.

--
Lars Eighner <http://larseighner.com/>
<http://myspace.com/larseighner>
Countdown: 493 days to go.
What do you do when you're debranded?
Definitely not lovely, but talented enough to know that it is the computer
that is souless, (yet) and we have to speak its language until it learns
ours. I can forgive the geeks not allowing for writers that who also do not
understand our language.

David F. Cox
Sep 15 '07 #10
Scripsit Stefan Ram:
"Jukka K. Korpela" <jk******@cs.tut.fiwrites:
>Can you cite _any_ statement by Google saying what
they really do in the definition search?

There is a patent application by a person who
might have been or still is a Google employee:
That's interesting, and it explicitly mentions using <dlas one method of
recognizing definitions. There are still some uncertainties, like actual
connection with Google (why don't they apply for the patent as a company??)
and the fact that even if the patent has been granted, the patent owner need
not actually use it, or all the methods described it.

If it has been granted, it might be very bad news, since patenting such an
idea may prevent others from using it.
German quotation marks look like ,,this`` or like
,this` (when appearing inside other quotation marks).
What you use are alternative German quotation marks, often used in books.
The reasons I remember now to use »these marks« are:
Just ridiculous, in an English-language context, where you special
markup-like notations do not clarify anything but just confuse. Use Ascii
quotation marks like everyone else, until Usenet is safe for Unicode (which
probably won't happen during my lifetime).

--
Jukka K. Korpela ("Yucca")
http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/

Sep 15 '07 #11
On 2007-09-15, Jukka K. Korpela <jk******@cs.tut.fiwrote:
Scripsit Stefan Ram:
[...]
> The reasons I remember now to use »these marks« are:

Just ridiculous, in an English-language context, where you special
markup-like notations do not clarify anything but just confuse.
No, his reasons are good. Give that man a gold star.
Use Ascii quotation marks like everyone else, until Usenet is safe for
Unicode (which probably won't happen during my lifetime).
But I take your point about this. You may find I have already ignorantly
converted them to question marks or something in the quote above.
Sep 15 '07 #12
In article <_7********************@reader1.news.saunalahti.fi >,
"Jukka K. Korpela" <jk******@cs.tut.fiwrote:
Scripsit Stefan Ram:
"Jukka K. Korpela" <jk******@cs.tut.fiwrites:
Can you cite _any_ statement by Google saying what
they really do in the definition search?
There is a patent application by a person who
might have been or still is a Google employee:

That's interesting, and it explicitly mentions using <dlas one method of
recognizing definitions. There are still some uncertainties, like actual
connection with Google (why don't they apply for the patent as a company??)
and the fact that even if the patent has been granted, the patent owner need
not actually use it, or all the methods described it.
The names on a patent application have to be those of the inventor(s),
even if said inventor(s) are employees of a company that actually owns
the intellectual property/patent rights under the terms of the contract
of employment.
Sep 18 '07 #13

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