The cite element is about the source, not the author

March 25, 2020 , I learned...

I assumed the correct way to structure a blockquote was something like:

<blockquote>
  "There's never enough time to do all the nothing you want."
  <cite>Bill Watterson</cite>
</blockquote>

Turns out I’ve never read the actual spec for the cite element:

The cite element represents the title of a work (e.g. a book, a paper, an essay, a poem, a score, a song, a script, a film, a TV show, a game, a sculpture, a painting, a theatre production, a play, an opera, a musical, an exhibition, a legal case report, a computer program, etc). This can be a work that is being quoted or referenced in detail (i.e. a citation), or it can just be a work that is mentioned in passing.

A person’s name is not the title of a work — even if people call that person a piece of work — and the element must therefore not be used to mark up people’s names. 

A better route? Both figcaption and footer are suitable for the task.

<blockquote>
  "There's never enough time to do all the nothing you want."
  <footer>Bill Watterson</footer>
</blockquote>

Or, we can cite the source while attributing the quote:

<blockquote>
  "There's never enough time to do all the nothing you want."
  <footer>Bill Watterson, <cite>Calvin and Hobbes</cite></footer>
</blockquote>

This is all different from inline quotes, of course, which are wrapped in the q element:

<q>"There's never enough time to do all the nothing you want,"</q> he said with a wistful look upon his face.