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Re: Proposal: Additional 'media' type

From: Bill Mason <w3c@accessibleinter.net>
Date: Sun, 13 Jul 2003 14:46:13 -0700
Message-Id: <>
To: Blaine Cook <lattice@romeda.org>, www-style@w3.org

At 02:02 PM 7/13/2003, Blaine Cook wrote:
>I've recently been doing some work on establishing a search engine for an 
>organisation I work with, as well as doing a lot of CSS-based layout work. 
>The intersection of these two activities lent me an idea that I can't find 
>mentioned anywhere, so I figure here is as good as any a place to start.
>The idea, in summary, is to add a new target medium to CSS. Specifically, 
>a "robot" type.

Unless I'm really misinformed, most robots do not support any sort of CSS 
to start with.  Consider Google's own advice:

"Use a text browser such as Lynx to examine your site, because most search 
engine spiders see your site much as Lynx would."

>This would allow web designers to create pages that enable search engine 
>indexers to focus on the content, enabling the users of search engines to 
>find better results. One of the biggest problems that I have encountered 
>implementing a search engine is that navigational aids and periphery 
>content is over-represented in the results.

If you are doing CSS-based layout, use it.  Put the main content 
first.  Put the secondary content next.  Put the navigation at the end of 
the code.  Read it in Lynx; does it make sense?

>A number of CSS-based layouts that use "display: none;", or even hide text 
>by using the same foreground and background colours, are becoming much 
>more common. For example, the use of :hover to create popup menus (1) 
>requires hiding text from users, as does using background-images to 
>replace text (2). The problem with this development is that for search 
>indexers, it is impossible (or very difficult) to differentiate between 
>abusive users hiding links and text to increase their rankings, and these 
>legitimate uses. Google explicitly recommends against using these 
>techniques (3).

I would suggest that Google probably should start rethinking such absolute 
stances to some extent.  Techniques are advancing with the times.

Bill Mason
Accessible Internet
Received on Sunday, 13 July 2003 17:46:27 GMT

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