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

RE: MarkUp Validation Service Problem

From: Jukka K. Korpela <jkorpela@cs.tut.fi>
Date: Tue, 27 May 2003 01:22:54 +0300 (EEST)
To: www-validator@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.GSO.4.50.0305270051001.9872-100000@korppi.cs.tut.fi>

On Mon, 26 May 2003, Denis Boudreau [ CYBERcodeur.net ] wrote:

> With all due respect, I have no idea how to read a DTD either and I
> frankly don't care about reading it, just like I don't need to know how
> to break down a motor to ride my car.

As a consequence, you inevitably get confused with validators' messages.

> Why wouldn't validating be done
> just for it's own sake, because it's the *right* thing to do, because it
> ensures better operability and accessibility among other things ?

Validation is a minor tool for checking your documents against some rules
that you know, and rather confusing if you don't know the rules. It has
rather small, though not negligible, impact on operability and accessibility.

> It's not personnal either, but instead of asking that question every so
> often, you should maybe ask yourself why you ask it in the first place

That's a good question. Maybe I'm just too worried about other people's
problems when they get cryptic validation messages that are mostly
irrelevant - often indicating something that should, in principle at
least, be fixed, but little indication of what the problem really is.

Actually I'm more worried about the phenomenon that people _believe in_
validation without understanding what it is - and ignore far more
important issues in Web site design, when they think that their pages are
"valid" (i.e., everything OK, cross-browser operable, accessible,
standard, and whatever) when they pass validation.

In this case, for example, it is completely irrelevant whether the border
attribute in <input> is valid (under some DTD). Validation was useful only
to the extent that it raised the question _why_ the attribute is not in
the specification you validated against. It is pointless to ask _whether_
it is there, since it can be checked, and if you don't check it yourself,
then someone else has to do that _or_ give you a mere guess, and you still
don't know whether the answer is true. Actually, although validators may
have errors, you can be pretty sure that it reads the DTD properly and
gives a technically correct report - so sure that the only way to get more
certainty is to look at the DTD.

The question _why_  it isn't there naturally goes beyond the scope of
validation. On the practical side, most of the HTML constructs that
violate HTML 4.01 Transitional syntax should be fixed. But such fixes are
generally less productive than people think. For example, it's easy to
violate that syntax by using tag soup with <font> tags here and there,
but it would be much more productive to remove the <font> tags (or to
rewrite the markup completely) than to make them comply with the formal

> The only thing that matters is
> producing valid pages because we feel it's important, because we
> understand what the W3C tries to achive and we want to be a part of it
> all :)

The importance of validation is grossly overrated and the need to
_understand_ its essence (if you use it) is seriously underrated. Oh
well, I think I need to mention the long rant on this:

Jukka "Yucca" Korpela, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/
Received on Monday, 26 May 2003 18:22:56 UTC

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