W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-validator@w3.org > August 2003

Re: [VE][247] New Error Message Suggestion

From: Jukka K. Korpela <jkorpela@cs.tut.fi>
Date: Sun, 31 Aug 2003 18:40:23 +0300 (EEST)
To: www-validator@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.GSO.4.50.0308311821001.28908-100000@korppi.cs.tut.fi>

On Sun, 31 Aug 2003, Gerrit Kaiser wrote:

> This error occured when feeding the validator a HTML4.01
> (strict)-document with markup that uses the short tag-closing method
> mandatory in XML but not allowed in HTML4 (e.g. <img />)
> The current error message reads as follows:
> NET-enabling start-tag requires SHORTTAG YES
> Which is, well, not exactly self-explanatory for the average web
> author.

It cannot be if, it is to be a validator's message. An average Web author
_needs_ to learn what validation is before using a validator. Attempts to
avoid this will just increase the confusion.

Besides, the explanation is plain wrong, and not by coincidence but by the
design of the new "validator". I cannot resist the temptation to to point
this out, although  it's pretty obvious that people either still fail to
understand this or continue a conscious effort based on deliberately
misleading people.

The point is that <img /> _is_ allowed in HTML 4, though its meaning
differs from what people think and what browsers do. It's just the "fussy"
parsing mode that makes it an "error". But HTML 4 is defined so that the
parsing is not "fussy". (It is symptomatic that such a nonsensical
pseudo-term is used.)

> An explanation that needs an explanation is a bad explanation

Not at all. No explanation can be understandable to anyone without further
explanations. Validator's explanations should be written for people who
have an elementary understanding of what validation is. And for them, the
_correct_ explanation would be: "This program implies an SGML declaration
containing SHORTTAG NONE, contrary to the HTML 4 specifications, and
therefore reports NET-Enabling Start-tag as an error".

> This error commonly occures when you close an empty element with '/>'.

If you wish to be _practical_, you could say that this "error" commonly
occurs from an attempt to mix HTML and XHTML syntax within the same
document. But people who are just throw in some slashes because someone
told them they are XHTML and XHTML is cool will find the messages
confusing anyway, and they need a tutorial, not an explanation to an error
message (which itself is an error).

> This is not allowed in the version of HTML you are using.

That would be just a clearer formulation of the _false_ statement that the
"validator" now makes.

Jukka "Yucca" Korpela, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/
Received on Sunday, 31 August 2003 11:40:38 UTC

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