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Re: what should we do about evaluation tools

From: Nir Dagan <nir.dagan@econ.upf.es>
Date: Sat Mar 21 14:38:40 1998
Message-Id: <199803211941.UAA05794@darwin.upf.es>
To: kasday@att.com
CC: w3c-wai-rc@w3.org
I think that before answering the question what 
evaluation tools we need it may be useful to identify 
first *to whom* these tools are created for. There are 
several types of authors who require different type of tools.

Consider the following loose classification of authors/websites:

1. Public institutions (e.g. government) institutions with a public nature
 (e.g. private universities and hospitals), Large businesses. (who typically have 
 many individuals on the Webmaster team.)

2 Medium and small businesses. Personal websites.

Another classification is 

A. professional; and 
B. not so professional.

The two classifications create a "matrix", but there is some natural correlations.

For example most medium and small businesses are not so 
professional. They usually assign an employee (or hire an 
outside designer) that has very little knowledge of HTML.

Many personal websites are maintained by people
 who do not do a very professional job.

I think that all types of authors should be addressed but would like to make 
the point of educating non professionals and younger authors in particular.

Pass/fail tests are important for 1 and A.. This is because 
it anables them to define an accurate standard for their Websites.  
Also programs like validators who give short but technical well defined
statements are useful for professionals whose major errors are a consequence 
of typos rather than ignorance. 

On the other hand, I find Bobby as very useful for 
non-professional authors. It also has some marketing 
advantages for younger people. 

A big advantage (for the non-professional) is that it concentrates 
a repeating error as one error as opposed 
to validators who state the errors in order of appearance.
This is less scary and more eductional. 

Also a system of a continuous grade reduces frustration 
from beginners who can feel gradual improvement in their work.

On the other hand these features are not useful for the professional author. 
These authors want to fix their few error quickly. Staing the errors in order of appearance
without lengthy explanations is just perfect for this goal.

In my view younger authors have the tendency to do cool stuff. Instead 
of trying to change this trend one should use it. Instead of "frames are cool"
one can push "alt text is cool". Distributing "approved icons" and 
making the output of the test look like a graded quiz exam are the right way to go
for educating younger authors.

I felt the change of need in tool myself. When I started trying to test my site in all kinds of
ways I couldn't figure out what the weirdos at WebTechs want from me, but I understood
perfectly well that my website sucks when I ran it in Bobby or an HTML 2.0 text only
purifier. Now I hardly use the latter since I can *predict* the behavior of my purified
pages, and Bobby-like tools are slower than validators (if one uses the 
*amusing* feature of reproducing the page as a graded quiz).  

Regards,

Nir Dagan                            
Assistant Professor of Economics      
Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Barcelona (Spain)

email: dagan@upf.es
Website: http://www.econ.upf.es/%7Edagan/
Received on Saturday, 21 March 1998 14:38:40 EST

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