W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-sgml-wg@w3.org > May 1997

Re: Final words, I think, on error handling

From: Paul Prescod <papresco@calum.csclub.uwaterloo.ca>
Date: Thu, 8 May 1997 12:34:13 -0400 (EDT)
Message-Id: <199705081634.MAA10034@calum.csclub.uwaterloo.ca>
To: sjd@eps.inso.com (Steven J. DeRose)
Cc: w3c-sgml-wg@w3.org
> There is another reason that two big warring companies can't just "agree" on
> this. We all know that some company somewhere could claim a marketing
> advantage by claiming to do cool error recovery in browsers. This would be
> to their individual advantage, at great cost to the community (e.g., their
> recovery won't be identical to others' and so we're unavoidably back to
> having non-portable documents). Each company therefore must trust the other,
> AND all future competitors, not to try to gain the upper hand by cheating. 
> 
> This is the tragedy of the commons: each shepherd must trust the others not
> to try to gain the upper hand by grazing sheep on the commons. That's one
> reason we end up with laws. And the XML spec is the applicable "law". It has
> no truly binding force, but it provides a way to censure applications that
> act against the common good. No company can do that, it has to be a
> legitimate standards organization of some kind.

Netscape's latest and greatest doesn't even centre tables correctly according 
to the HTML 3.2 spec. (or so I've heard -- I can easily come up with a similarly trivial example if they've fixed that lately) . W3C Specification adherence 
has little to do with marketing, profit or enlightened self interest. If
Netscape and Microsoft want to clean up HTML and XML the way to do so
is in *code*, with *validating parsers* that are *easily accessible*
to the *average user*. They have had this option for five years and have
ignored it. But all of a sudden the sky is falling.

The only people who listen to W3C specifications are language lawyers.
Probably half of them are on this list. None of them are in the marketing 
departments and none of them are on the board of directors. When it is in 
the corporate interest to ignore this specification they will, just as they 
have every version of HTML. 

If these vendors are serious, they should release a press release about
a Web Correctness Initiaive. Send it to PC Week and PC Mag. Their customers
read that. Burying it in a couple of paragraphs in the XML spec is
meaningless except as a way of introducing unofficial "conformance
levels".

 Paul Prescod
Received on Thursday, 8 May 1997 12:34:28 UTC

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