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Right, but text-to-speech is only half of the problem. Gopher by default just uses plain text with no semantics. Without marking up those documents there’s no way to let users jump around within them. Do you honestly expect a visually impaired user to sit and wait while each document they go to is read out to them in its entirety with no heading structure or ability to navigate within the content?



I think that argument worked well for the original web. But the HTML spec has accumulated a lot of things to make design easier, but they also make it easier to represent a page without useful semantic structure.

You mentioned tables, but there were many years where people were using tables in HTML for formatting instead of just expressing tabular data. So div tags were added. Now people sometimes use divs to represent tabular data.

Search is a pretty good way to navigate content, and is simple for raw text. An index is an even better way, and is supported quite well by gopher.


people were using tables in HTML for formatting instead of just expressing tabular data

Yep, and there are algorithms that try to distinguish between ‘data’ tables versus ‘layout’ tables for precisely that reason[1][2]. It’s unfortunate that they have to exist, but the web has routed around past mistakes.

Now people sometimes use divs to represent tabular data.

Yes, and that’s wrong and a simple fix. But regardless of whether some ill-informed people do that it’s still no worse than Gopher, and when they get it right it’s a lot better.

Regarding search, that’s great if you have exact keywords for what you’re looking for. Less good if you just want e.g. a list of headers on the page so that you can narrow in on the part that interests you.

[1] https://dxr.mozilla.org/mozilla-central/source/accessible/ht...

[2] https://cs.chromium.org/chromium/src/third_party/WebKit/Sour...


> Search is a pretty good way to navigate content, and is simple for raw text.

Gamefaqs hosts plain-text documents. Some of them are quite long and well-structured. Since there's no intra-document linking like with HTML, newer documents tend to have hashtags in the TOC to make Ctrl-F searching easier.

I'd much rather have intra-document links I can click on. That way, as a document author, I can direct readers to the dedicated "All The Monsters You'll Ever Fight" section from anywhere in the document without adding the string "#monsters" all throughout the document, generating false positives for the Ctrl-F-using reader.




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