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  1. #26
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    As the person who thought up the idea of using HTML tables for layout in the first place has already apologised for having made that mistake there should be no one who should be even remotely considering using that for their page layout.

    Using CSS tables for layout would be the obvious replacement for that since it places the table layout in the CSS where it belongs but it needs to wait for IE7 to disappear first before it will be practical since versions of IE prior to 8 do not support it.

    As to using <div="sidebar"> where the sidebar contains the site navigation. Is that really an appropriate name when you redesign the page so as to have the menu across the top rather than down the side of the page? However you look at it sidebar implies a certain appearance to the content and a better more descriptive name allows for the content being displayed in some different way.
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  2. #27
    Resident curmudgeon bronze trophy gary.turner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by felgall View Post
    <snip>
    As to using <div="sidebar"> where the sidebar contains the site navigation. Is that really an appropriate name when you redesign the page so as to have the menu across the top rather than down the side of the page? However you look at it sidebar implies a certain appearance to the content and a better more descriptive name allows for the content being displayed in some different way.
    Were the <div>'s content to be the site navigation, it would be named so. If that container were to also hold an ad or three, and maybe a list of coming events or announcements, it would be improper to call it "nav", and "sidebar" would again be appropriate.

    Yours is a specious argument. Read the definition again. There is no implication of appearance. A sidebar need not be a full column as you are seeming to say, nor is it prohibited from running horizontally.

    For further reference, view my sub-site index page. That side column is clearly identified as "toc". Now dip into one of the article pages. You will see the side column clearly and correctly identified as the "sidebar", because it contains related materials that are not a part of the main article.

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  3. #28
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophybronze trophy
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    "sidebar is a term for information placed adjacent"
    Key word here is placed.....

    placed = presentation

    Header/Footer/Sidebar - Presentational names - tied to specific locations.....


    Nav/Menu/Main Content/Related Content - can be placed anywhere in a document, theoretically.

  4. #29
    SitePoint Enthusiast agrable's Avatar
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    I am a web designer and I use tables for sliced pictures. I know that I need to transition to CSS, but after reading this discussion, I am only more confused. Does CSS load faster? Is it better for SEO? I'm comfortable with tables, but based on this conversation, tables are evil. Any books/websites/info you can point me towards?

  5. #30
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by agrable View Post
    I am a web designer and I use tables for sliced pictures. I know that I need to transition to CSS, but after reading this discussion, I am only more confused. Does CSS load faster? Is it better for SEO? I'm comfortable with tables, but based on this conversation, tables are evil. Any books/websites/info you can point me towards?
    The purpose of HTML is to identify what the content of the tag is. So paragraphs of text belong in a <p> tag, the most important headings belong in <h1> tags, entries in lists belong in <li> tags.

    When you place something inside <table> tags you are identifying that content as tabular data. If it isn't tabular data then you have used the wrong HTML tags. Tables as such are not evil. Any tag used incorrectly to misidentify what it contains is evil whether that be <table> or <div> or whatever.

    The whole purpose of HTML is to identify what each piece of the content is so that regardless of how someone decides to access it that it will make sense.

    The data can be accessed via a range of different media types including screen, print, mobile device, aural (where the content is read out rather than displayed) and so on. You may not want the content to look the same for all media types and so the CSS (which is how you define how HTML is supposed to look) allows separate definitions to be made for different media types.

    Another thing to remember is that your visitors can also specify their own CSS that overrides yours and changes the appearance of your page. They may do that in order to ensure that the content is big enough for them to be able to see (if they have bad eye sight or whatever). If you use incorrect HTML then their CSS will not interact correctly with the page and your page may end up looking like garbage - especially if they turn on browsers on tables so as to make it easier to see where each of the elements is in tabular data relative to the rest of the tabular data.

    With your sliced images in tables anyone who likes to see borders in tabular data will see those borders all through your image and will immediately know how stupid you were in incorrectly defining your HTML.
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  6. #31
    SitePoint Wizard Stomme poes's Avatar
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    Header/Footer/Sidebar - Presentational names - tied to specific locations.....
    Even flat documents have headers, main bodies, and sometimes footers. They less commonly have sidebars but they can have adjacent, indirectly related content, which must be physically placed somewhere where it does not interrupt the flow of the main body. This place does not have to be on the side, but it does have to be somewhere else. You know, that whole "two bodies cannot occupy the same space at the same time or the universe will implode" rule.

    I wonder if this idea that "sidebar is presentational" is where the silly name <aside> came from... yes, terms from the print world are stupid and wrong, let's take one from theatre instead! LAWLZ! <aside> may be something you hear Hamlet say, but oh, it's still presentational: he says it directly to the audience, when others are either not onstage or are quiet, and he says it quietly. As an aside. Sounds pretty presentational to me. It even still has dim etymological remnants of its spatial past: aside. To the side of, not in the center spotlight. Lawlz.

    But the aside/sidebar content must not be allowed to break the flow of the main body. Therefore is it by a matter of simple physics that it must occupy some other place. ...Be it the side, the top, the bottom, or in a pretty coloured box in the middle with a shiny accompanying photo (as seems to be the trend lately in some of the papers I read).

    I do agree with people naming something a header, footer, sidebar or whatever based on where they want to put it is doing it wrong, but that's just inappropriate naming isn't it? If your "sidebar" is only ever going to be filled with your blog archive then of course it's more sensible to name that box blogArchive. It certainly depends on what kind of site you have. When you look at proposed names of new HTML tags, you can clearly see someone was thinking everything ever posted on teh innerwebz will be a blog or a news page of some sort. So they make up names like story and page and that's fine if your site has stories and pages but what if they don't? You have to fall back to the plain homely <div> tags and then give them a name that makes sense. And sometimes header, footer, and sidebar make sense. Sometimes that is simply what those boxes ARE.

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  7. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stomme poes View Post
    <aside> may be something you hear Hamlet say, but oh, it's still presentational: he says it directly to the audience, when others are either not onstage or are quiet, and he says it quietly. As an aside. Sounds pretty presentational to me. It even still has dim etymological remnants of its spatial past: aside. To the side of, not in the center spotlight. Lawlz.

  8. #33
    SitePoint Wizard Stomme poes's Avatar
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    Off Topic:


    Quote Originally Posted by claudius
    ...but Now, My Cousin Hamlet, And My Son -
    Quote Originally Posted by hamlet
    [aside] A Little More Than Kin, And Less Than Kind.
    Quote Originally Posted by claudius
    How Is It That The Clouds Still Hang On You?
    Quote Originally Posted by hamlet
    Not So My Lord; I Am Too Much I' The Sun.

    : D

  9. #34
    Resident curmudgeon bronze trophy gary.turner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cooper.semantics View Post
    Key word here is placed.....

    placed = presentation

    Header/Footer/Sidebar - Presentational names - tied to specific locations.....


    Nav/Menu/Main Content/Related Content - can be placed anywhere in a document, theoretically.
    It can be argued that those are structural names rather than presentational. <snip>

    edit: I see Stomme poes has made a cogent argument, so I'll snip my own less lucid expansion on a theme.

    cheers,

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  10. #35
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophybronze trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by gary.turner View Post
    It can be argued that those are structural names rather than presentational. <snip>

    edit: I see Stomme poes has made a cogent argument, so I'll snip my own less lucid expansion on a theme.

    cheers,

    gary
    I guess I must of missed the argument

    If a name is tied to a certain structure, lets say, then it's usually tied to the presentation as well, such as header for example....

  11. #36
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophybronze trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stomme poes View Post
    Even flat documents have headers, main bodies, and sometimes footers. They less commonly have sidebars but they can have adjacent, indirectly related content, which must be physically placed somewhere where it does not interrupt the flow of the main body.
    A question to ask yourself, though, if you moved the 'sidebar' to the head of the document, would it confuse the developer?

    I'd imagine probably so...

    Theoretically, anything can be placed anywhere on the page, but if it brings confusion, then its probably a bad idea.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stomme poes View Post
    This place does not have to be on the side, but it does have to be somewhere else. You know, that whole "two bodies cannot occupy the same space at the same time or the universe will implode" rule.
    Yeah, but it brings confusion when it's placed elsewhere, just as the 'header' does

    Quote Originally Posted by Stomme poes View Post
    I do agree with people naming something a header, footer, sidebar or whatever based on where they want to put it is doing it wrong, but that's just inappropriate naming isn't it?
    Rule of thumb is, if a naming convention ties to placement, then it's presentational.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stomme poes View Post
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  12. #37
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cooper.semantics View Post
    A question to ask yourself, though, if you moved the 'sidebar' to the head of the document, would it confuse the developer?

    I'd imagine probably so...
    That is why I suggested that the id of div tags should identify what the div contains. Labelling something as "header" implies its importance more than it does the placement on the page (although something that important usially goes at the top).

    Even though some people have argued that a sidebar is not necessarily at the side it does tend to suggest that sort of placement rather than giving an idea of what it contains. There may be instances where it is the most descriptive word to use for a block of subsidiary content but it is preferable to at least try to come up with a more descriptive name first.
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  13. #38
    SitePoint Wizard Stomme poes's Avatar
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    Yeah, but it brings confusion when it's placed elsewhere, just as the 'header' does
    I figure that the thing that happens to be at the top of the page is being called a header because it's heading the document... if the stuff at the top is doing anything else (like, say, holding advertisements) then I wouldn't call it a header.
    So, the thing that heads the document tends by its very nature to sit at the to of the page, but I still see that as structure.

    Sure, if I chop off my head and lay it at my feet it's still my head and not a third foot or anything... but my head really doesn't belong there and I'll stop working if your put my head at my feet like that. That doesn't stop my head from being my head, does it? Heads tend to be on top of us, but calling it what it is (my head) doesn't mean it's presentational.

    However you can see in the words themselves that the names of the structures, coming from the print world, do sound presentational. A header heads the document but obviously it's named after our own heads which happen to be on top of us. Same goes for footers. But I still argue they are structural names because of what they ARE, and that they seem superficially presentational because of how they were originally named, not because they are actually presentational.

    I will continue to use the names header, footer, sidebar, menu etc, but as I said before if a better, more explicit name can be used, then I'd do that first (as felgall just said). I've been waiting for a <fineprint> tag for a while, and it seems HTML5 has appropriated <small> for this purpose. Though I believe there are other good reasons for that tag, but overall I'm not unhappy with it becoming my <fineprint> : )

  14. #39
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stomme poes View Post
    A header heads the document but obviously it's named after our own heads which happen to be on top of us. Same goes for footers. But I still argue they are structural names because of what they ARE, and that they seem superficially presentational because of how they were originally named, not because they are actually presentational.
    I agree that header and footer have meanings in terms of what you expect them to contain that are independent of where they may appear in the final page. In most cases there is not a more descriptive term that can be used for those elements that conveys better what those elements are.

    In the case of sidebar I think there is far more scope for an alternative that better describes the content of that elementsince unless it contains several different things - navigation, ads, testimonials, whatever there is likely to be a more specific term that can be used instead that would be a better description of what the content actually is.

    You should always iuse the best descriptive term for what the content is and only use a more generic one when the content really is generic. In the case of a sidebar containing several different things each of those should be marked up as to what it is and once you have done that you then need to consider whether the wrapper that you have labelled sidebar is really required semantically.
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    SitePoint Wizard silver trophybronze trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stomme poes View Post
    I figure that the thing that happens to be at the top of the page is being called a header because it's heading the document... if the stuff at the top is doing anything else (like, say, holding advertisements) then I wouldn't call it a header.
    So, the thing that heads the document tends by its very nature to sit at the to of the page, but I still see that as structure.
    Your describing the presentational use of header. Your dictating the location of header, which is is presentational.

    If you were to use the <header> tag, then it can and will be used in various sections of your document, and still keep its intended semantic meaning.

    That would be the only non-presentational use of header

    Rule of thumb is, if you move something somewhere, and it alters the meaning, then its presentational.

  16. #41
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cooper.semantics View Post
    Rule of thumb is, if you move something somewhere, and it alters the meaning, then its presentational.
    An excellent way of determining whether a term is presentational or not.

    There are meanings to header that do not imply that it necessarily goes at the top though. A header is more likely to go at the top because of its importance relative to the rest of the page but it is the relative importance that makes it the page header rather than that it is at the top.
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  17. #42
    Follow: @AlexDawsonUK silver trophybronze trophy AlexDawson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cooper.semantics View Post
    Header/Footer/Sidebar - Presentational names - tied to specific locations.....

    Nav/Menu/Main Content/Related Content - can be placed anywhere in a document, theoretically.
    See I am in two minds about that, while it's tied to an orientation it's not tied to a presentation, a header could appear at the top of a document or be the head of a section, if heading was a presentational word we probably wouldn't have the h1-6 elements. While I get your reasoning I don't think it's explicit enough for it to be considered strictly presentational, it's just very descriptive of it's content.

    Quote Originally Posted by agrable View Post
    I am a web designer and I use tables for sliced pictures. I know that I need to transition to CSS, but after reading this discussion, I am only more confused. Does CSS load faster? Is it better for SEO? I'm comfortable with tables, but based on this conversation, tables are evil. Any books/websites/info you can point me towards?
    I quoted it earlier in the thread but I will post it again as it's a very good article and explains the issues with table based design:

    http://www.hotdesign.com/seybold/everything.html

    Quote Originally Posted by Stomme poes View Post
    I wonder if this idea that "sidebar is presentational" is where the silly name <aside> came from.
    Either that or the RIAA are trying to bring back vinal and have forced the W3C to have an element for the A side

    Quote Originally Posted by cooper.semantics View Post
    A question to ask yourself, though, if you moved the 'sidebar' to the head of the document, would it confuse the developer?

    Theoretically, anything can be placed anywhere on the page, but if it brings confusion, then its probably a bad idea.
    Yes it would confuse the developer, and as such perhaps we should not use terms like header, footer or sidebar, however it would be very hard to come up with some descriptive names which don't imply through language their location, after all any associative reference could violate this new grammatical nightmare! You could not have pre, post, high, low, intro, adjacent, etc. So perhaps the only solution (and if this becomes the convention I want credit) is to dump the HTML5 elements in favour of having "map" (for header as it's guiding through the location), "notes" (for footer as it's giving complementary information) and "related" (for sidebar)

  18. #43
    SitePoint Wizard Stomme poes's Avatar
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    If you were to use the <header> tag, then it can and will be used in various sections of your document, and still keep its intended semantic meaning.
    No, you really can't put <header> anywhere you please. Documents have structure and part of structure is order. Order is NOT presentational!

    Do any of us here read a language from the bottom to the top?? (some smart aleck will say Yes and point to some obscure programming language lawlz)
    So how could you just put the heading of a document anywhere but the top?

    My only guess: on a separate page, like in a multi-page document. What is a header? Usually it's a title, but can also include subtitles, short descriptions (one line or so) of the document, bylines, author's names or the company name (this may even include a logo). It may include the date if there is one.

    Sorry, you're really limited in where you can put that stuff. And whether you stuff it in div id="header" or <header> (I really don't see a whole lotta difference between the two, unless there's a machine who can actually read tags), you need to put it first.

    *edit, I take some of those words back. I just realised I have a site where the header is first in source, but sits on the left of the page, containing the title of the site (not the page) and the navigation. However it's a horizontal site, so in a horizontal world, is left the equivalent of top? Lawlz

    If you have subheaders, well those are sub headers. Not the main header. Subheaders also are restricted: they need to start at the beginning of the content they're heading.

    So, <header> can't be placed just anywhere willy nilly, therefore it's presentational. Uh, that makes zero sense to me. So being limited in where you can place something doesn't work for me as a criteria for whether something is presentational.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alex
    So perhaps the only solution (and if this becomes the convention I want credit) is to dump the HTML5 elements in favour of having "map" (for header as it's guiding through the location), "notes" (for footer as it's giving complementary information) and "related" (for sidebar)
    I propose we use the unreadable, alien-looking names generated by wysiwyg CMSs, the more obscure ones:
    div id="tlv02-w"

    class="tz_31"

    There, no presentation at all... you just need some deencryption software to figure out what goes with what : )

  19. #44
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stomme poes View Post
    No, you really can't put <header> anywhere you please. Documents have structure and part of structure is order. Order is NOT presentational!


    So, <header> can't be placed just anywhere willy nilly, therefore it's presentational. Uh, that makes zero sense to me. So being limited in where you can place something doesn't work for me as a criteria for whether something is presentational.
    Exactly - the ordering is part of the semantic meaning that just happens to be reflected presentationally since that is how it makes the most sense to display it. The ordering comes first - the header goes at the top because the hearer is the most important part of the content.

    It is wrong to say that the header is most important BECAUSE it is at the top - that is placing effect before cause and is like suggesting that it rains because the ground is wet.
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    SitePoint Wizard Stomme poes's Avatar
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    Exactly - the ordering is part of the semantic meaning that just happens to be reflected presentationally since that is how it makes the most sense to display it. The ordering comes first - the header goes at the top because the hearer is the most important part of the content.

    It is wrong to say that the header is most important BECAUSE it is at the top - that is placing effect before cause and is like suggesting that it rains because the ground is wet.
    I agree, and I agree with your earlier statements (and also Cooper and Alex have said this) that when/if there's a better name than the traditional boxes, use them.

    None of us are saying "sidebar" or "header" is more desireable or even more semantic in any way than "navigation" "archive" or even "legalcrap". I'm arguing that the names are not generally presentational unless one uses them that way (like "I'm gonna call this "sidebar" cause it's a bar on the side").

    Lawlz I once did a site about cats where the names were all cat body parts, for fun: kop (head), kant (sides), poot (paw/foot) and the menu was a pad (path or trail). Is it wrong? Sure. But it was fun, so I did it. : )

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    Mouse catcher silver trophy Stevie D's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by felgall View Post
    But not "sidebar" as that is specifying how it should look rather than what it is and would be nonsense as soon as you decide to reorganise the appearance of the page and display it in some way that isn't a sidebar. A div with id="sidebar" should be renames to describe what it contains rather than how it looks.
    I disagree. "Sidebar" can be used as a structural and semantic term. If you had <div id="rightmenu">, that is presentational. But a generic sidebar can be used to contain related and peripheral information, eg external links, glossary terms. And while each of those sections may have a particular purpose (and id), it may need an overall wrapper to group the related sections together.

    Think of "sidebar" in the same way as an "aside" in a script - something tangentially related, but not within the main content.

  22. #47
    Resident curmudgeon bronze trophy gary.turner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevie D View Post
    I disagree. "Sidebar" can be used as a structural and semantic term. <snip>
    Think of "sidebar" in the same way as an "aside" in a script - something tangentially related, but not within the main content.
    Excellent.

    cheers,

    gary
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  23. #48
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevie D View Post
    "Sidebar" can be used as a structural and semantic term.
    No one is disagreeing that it can be used that way. Just that 99% of the time there will be a better descriptive term to use instead that more accurately describes what the sidebar contains. Using sidebar is not hugely different from using miscellaneous since it doesn't really indicate what the content is, just that it isn't the main content.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stomme poes View Post
    No, you really can't put <header> anywhere you please. Documents have structure and part of structure is order. Order is NOT presentational!
    The header i'm talking about is a tag, and it can live in sections, and not just the top part of the document. <div class="header"> is 99&#37; used as a presentational division.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stomme poes View Post
    Do any of us here read a language from the bottom to the top?? (some smart aleck will say Yes and point to some obscure programming language lawlz)
    So how could you just put the heading of a document anywhere but the top?
    It sounds like you're using the header incorrectly.
    I'm not the smart aleck haha, but i've provided an example of a good case scenario.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stomme poes View Post
    Sorry, you're really limited in where you can put that stuff. And whether you stuff it in div id="header" or <header> (I really don't see a whole lotta difference between the two, unless there's a machine who can actually read tags), you need to put it first.
    Limited, how so?

    Code HTML5:
    <article>
     <header>
      <h1>The Very First Rule of Life</h1>
      <p><time pubdate datetime="2009-10-09T14:28-08:00"></time></p>
     </header>
     <p>If there's a microphone anywhere near you, assume it's hot and
     sending whatever you're saying to the world. Seriously.</p>
     <p>...</p>
     <section>
      <h1>Comments</h1>
      <article>
       <header>
        <p>Posted by: George Washington</p>
        <p><time pubdate datetime="2009-10-10T19:10-08:00"></time></p>
       </header>
       <p>Yeah! Especially when talking about your lobbyist friends!</p>
      </article>
      <article>
       <header>
        <p>Posted by: George Hammond</p>
        <p><time pubdate datetime="2009-10-10T19:15-08:00"></time></p>
       </header>
       <p>Hey, you have the same first name as me.</p>
      </article>
     </section>
    </article>

    Grabbed this halfass example from whatwg, but you get my drift.

  25. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlexDawson View Post
    While I get your reasoning I don't think it's explicit enough for it to be considered strictly presentational, it's just very descriptive of it's content.
    I thought I explicitly stated when it's presentational and when its not...


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