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RE: Where's Bobby? Are we left with Cynthia?

From: Chuck Hitchcock <chitchcock@cast.org>
Date: Sat, 28 Jan 2006 23:26:40 -0500
To: <david.clark@umb.edu>, "'Martin Stehle'" <pewtah@snafu.de>
Cc: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <006c01c6248c$33dc1300$6501a8c0@cast.org>

For the record:

1. David is probably right.  "Approved" was not quite the right message
unless you understood that it meant both automatic and human review of the
full site.  It always meant self-approved.  

2. We were pretty green back then.  We were hearing that Web developers
needed a page display with prominent Bobby errors to show those who might
authorize a modest additional investment in making those early sites
reasonably accessible.  The error reports showed lots of Bobby heads at that
time.  It was an attention getter.  We also heard that those who made the
effort wanted to display something that might help spread the word about
accessibility and provide some recognition for their efforts.  We complied
with various levels of Bobby approved icons.

3. In 1996, Bobby was originally intended to serve as an education tool
based on the Trace Center Web Accessibility Guidelines.  Once the WAI WCAG
was introduced, Bobby evolved into a auto-validator with an additional human
check requirement.  Section 508 checks were added once 508 was official.  We
did the best we could without a charge to the user for many years.  Our
server-based service was so popular with corporate and gov sites that we had
to restrict the use of scripts that would run thousands of pages through our
little server every day and night.

4. Bobby is still available on the Watchfire Web site and has evolved quite
nicely in the hands of Watchfire.  WebExact is a free page by page Bobby
checker but the full Bobby 5.0 client is posted to
It is no longer free.

5. Bobby is also fully integrated within the Watchfire enterprise system
software typically used by large corporate Web sites.  Our thinking was that
integration would provide greater awareness and exemplify universal design.
If you are not familiar with the use of a full test suite, you may be
interested in the information on WebXM at
http://www.watchfire.com/products/webxm/default.aspx. Note that the
accessibility scan is but one of the scanning tools provided.

6. It is terrific that so many excellent choices exist today.  We hope that
developers find a tool that helps them to learn enough that the use of the
checker is no longer necessary.

Chuck Hitchcock
Chief Officer, Policy and Technology

-----Original Message-----
From: w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org] On Behalf
Of David Clark
Sent: Friday, January 27, 2006 12:52 PM
To: Martin Stehle
Cc: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Subject: Re: Where's Bobby? Are we left with Cynthia?


> > If one feels the need to display a "badge", aren't WCAG A, AA, And
> > AAA the most informative and "impartial"?
> For who? "Claims are not verified by W3C" you can read on e.g.
> http://www.w3.org/WAI/WCAG1AAA-Conformance
> And: the scope of the icon? For the whole site? Or for the single
> page? And: In WCAG there are no test guidelines, so putting the WCAG
> icon is based on a subjective decision.

Not sure I understand your question/point --- use of the Bobby
Approved icon always had the same limitations and provisions -- its
display was always just as subjective.\

Looking back -- (10 years ago this summer) use of the word approved
was an unintentional mistake -- it gave Bobby a level of authority (to
the casual observer) that we never desired to have .


ps: all opinions expressed are mine, and mine alone.
Received on Sunday, 29 January 2006 04:26:47 UTC

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