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

From: Philip TAYLOR [PC336/H-XP] <P.Taylor@Rhul.Ac.Uk>
Date: Sun, 31 Aug 2003 18:08:07 +0100
Message-ID: <3F522B77.E48AA814@Rhul.Ac.Uk>
To: "Jukka K. Korpela" <jkorpela@cs.tut.fi>
Cc: www-validator@w3.org

"Jukka K. Korpela" wrote:


> > 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.

I agree.


> 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".

I'm sorry, I /don't/ agree; "NET-enabling Start-tag" is simply gobbledygook,
and completely meaningless to (I suspect) 99.999% of all web authors,
/including/ those who take validation very seriously and who contribute
regularly to this list.  Presumably "NET" is an acronym (for what, I know
not; "null end tag", possibly ?), and has nothing whatsoever to do with 
"network"(s), which is what most web authors would immediately deduce from 
its spelling.  Furthermore, no web author /need/ be aware of the meaning
of "SHORTTAG NONE".  /All/ of this could be expressed in precise yet simple
English which would be accessible to those same 99.999% earlier referred to
/and/ meaningful to at least a reasonable proportion of them.  I suggest
something along the lines of the following :

"The sequence <FOO />* can be interpreted in at least two different ways,
 depending on the DOCTYPE of the document; for HMTL 4.01 Strict*, the '/'
 terminates the tag <FOO (with an implied '>').  However, since many
 browsers don't interpret it this way, even in the presence of an HMTL 4.01 Strict*
 DOCTYPE, it is best to avoid it completely in pure HTML documents and 
 reserve its use solely for those written in XHTML".

The '* in the above is intended to imply that the preceding string should
be replaced by whatever occurs in the document being validated.

Now I am perfectly happy to be corrected by Jukka, or anyone else, if my
"simple English" explanation still fails to explain /exactly/ what the effect
of the '/' is, but corrections aside, I maintain that a simple English
explanation such as that above is far more useful than any amount of

Philip Taylor
Received on Sunday, 31 August 2003 13:07:07 UTC

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