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

Re: Idea for the validators

From: Jukka K. Korpela <jkorpela@cs.tut.fi>
Date: Tue, 29 Jul 2003 08:54:28 +0300 (EEST)
To: www-validator@w3.org
cc: cirrus <cirrus@linuxgames.com>
Message-ID: <Pine.GSO.4.50.0307290828240.24495-100000@korppi.cs.tut.fi>

On Tue, 29 Jul 2003, Olivier Thereaux wrote:

> Most certainly, but I believe Jukka's main point was not that standards
> are not important...

Quite right. Although I have become less of a standards advocate (partly
because I have got some experience on how standards are actually created
and have had to listen to critics), the point really was that badges are a
completely wrong way to promote standards. It means sending an obscure
message to a large number of people, apparently in the hope that _some_ of
them will understand and apply it, not caring about the vast majority that
gets irritated or just confused. This reminds me of some undesirable
phenomena on Internet E-mail...

> Fair enough. However no one mentioned re-validation yet, which, for me
> (as web author), is the main practical purpose of the badge.

I think I have _somewhere_ mentioned that considered from that point of
view, the badge (as a link) seems to ask the _user_ to validate the
document for the author.

> Whether
> this is worth cluttering one's page with a badge, whether the fact that
> anyone could follow the link and be puzzled is an acceptable tradeoff,
> all this is the author's choice...

No, I think the answer is clearly "no". It is absurd to put a link
that should not be followed by visitors. (Naming the link as "Valid HTML!"
or something like that makes the situation even more absurd, but the
text or symbol of the link is not the point.)

> And since Web authors actually put the badges on their pages, since
> other people follow the link and get stranded on the validation results
> page, there is a need for an explanation page

No, I think the W3C should simply admit the error and stop
strongly encourageing people to put those badges anywhere.
That would be the first step. Then we might consider how to reduce
the harm already done. Since the validator's messages are intended for
people who author Web pages and know what validation is, the natural move
would be to include a note explaining that authors should not include
"Valid HTML!" links on their pages. It's still possible that an author who
has such links will not actually use the validator any more but visitors
will follow the link, but I'm afraid there's nothing we can do about it;
it's one of the reasons why those links are all wrong.

An explanation page that would explain the situation to a casual visitor
would _still_ be all wrong communication: it would explain difficult
things to people who lack the prerequisites and the need to understand
the issue. If an author made the error of misleading his visitors,
then it won't do any good to take them further into the business.
The message they need is "you shouldn't be here, the author made a
mistake, go back to his page".

Jukka "Yucca" Korpela, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/
Received on Tuesday, 29 July 2003 01:54:32 UTC

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