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I don’t think in the very first example you are defining ‘Alice’ as ‘I think Eve is watching’ – but you are defining what Alice SAYS as that. Think about it that way and you still have a definition, and it makes sense.
“In some cases, the b element might be appropriate for names
I believe the colloquial response to this is a combination of the letters W, T and F, followed by a question mark.”
Why not? It is a typographic convention in scripts for example to have the actor/character name in a bold typeface, and use of the b tag is for exactly that – typographic convention.
“So we can disobey the specification without fear of invalidating our documents.”
This is wrong – validation isn’t just about using an automated tool to ‘validate’ the document – it still has to follow the spec. Just because an online tool says a document is valid, doesn’t necessarily make it so – it is just 1 part of checking whether a document is valid.