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Re: Graphics and Captions


From: Kynn Bartlett
Date: Jan 20, 2006 2:00PM

On 1/20/06, Patrick H. Lauke < <EMAIL REMOVED> > wrote:
> To play a bit of devil's advocate, though: does that serve a real
> purpose, in terms of how users would interact with the image? Or is it
> just semantic pedantry?

Mostly semantic pedantry. As I said before, there's no viable HTML
elements for supporting captions for images, and other forms of
parallel/alternative/label/non-replacement text, so of course browsers
don't do anything useful for users.

However, there's some point in labeling an explicit longdesc
equivalent as such, even if it appears on the same page; it would
allow a user to theoretically be made aware that they're not missing
out on information. So there's a marginal value in using an anchored

For example, a few times I've posted a picture which is followed by a
short blurb describing the picture, such as you can get from Yahoo!
News on their images page.

I post the image first, and then a longdesc url like "#thisimagedesc"
to the text immediately following. It doesn't hurt much, and it also
makes it explicit that the text following /is/ descriptive, and also
doesn't leave it up in the air as to whether there's a longer
description out there. There's not, beyond what I just provided.

Here's an example, chosen at semi-random. It's a basketball picture:


"Stanford's Mitch Johnson (1) tries to shoot over Arizona's Marcus
Williams (3) and J.P. Prince during the first half of a college
basketball game in Tucson, Ariz., Thursday, Jan. 19, 2006. (AP Photo/
Wily Low)"

I'd deem, for most purposes (not necessarily all purposes) that the
caption is sufficient for a basic longdesc. Remember that alt text,
longdesc, captions, and other parallel/alternative content is very
much purpose-dependent and is based on what the goal of the image is
in the first place. But if I just wanted to put the picture up, say
on my LiveJournal, this would probably do for a longdesc. (Followed
by written text and commentary about why I chose it, naturally, which
isn't part of the longdesc.)

If I were going to comment on the apparent racial diversity of the
teams playing, on the colors of the uniforms, or on something visible
in the crowd behind, I'd need a more detailed longdesc. But I'd
probably also make it the caption, as captions are often times (but
not ALWAYS, don't get me wrong) functionally equivalent to "inline