W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-validator@w3.org > February 2005

Re: Cloaking and honest validation

From: Geoffrey Oxholm (Oazao, Inc.) <goxholm@oazao.com>
Date: Wed, 09 Feb 2005 15:27:23 -0500
To: www-validator@w3.org
Message-id: <1107980843.5979.188.camel@cave.localdomain>

[The topic of this e-mail has moved away from the specific interests of
the www-validator list, but as it was started here I have replied.]


Thanks for the reply. 

CSS Support is in fact the primary issue we are concerned with. What
we've found is that when we use any CSS2 (like position manipulation)
older browsers (like Communicator 4.74) do not degrade gracefully as one
would hope. They display the content -- which might be the strict
definition of 'degrade gracefully' -- but they look far from how they
are intended to. For a commercial webpage it is crucial that a webpage
both be modern and display well in as many browsers as possible. 

By detecting the browser we are able to determine if the browser is one
that we have specifically verified is capable of displaying the more
attractive and modern of our pages. If a browser does not meet this
qualification, we show it a more basic page. By "more basic" I mean that
the code producing the page uses more basic technologies. The result
will look much more similar to the more modern page than it would have
if we did not have two versions. (We might use a large header image
instead of layering a logo over a div tag with a background image, for

If you get a chance, use an old browser like Netscape Communicator 4.74
and look at some modern pages. (The ones in your footer will do.)
http://browsers.evolt.org has old browsers. 

It is true that we could create one version of our page that works in
both old browsers and in new ones, but as you know, using modern web
technologies can significantly benefit the quality of a page.

We consider this cloaking a necessary hack, but with regret. It would be
much nicer if there were some more fluid way of achieving modern
webpages with extensive browser support. (By support, I mean the content
actually looks as it should, not just with "graceful degradation.")

Thank you for the links, by the way. We also plan to incorporate more
use of the Http Accept headers.

I suppose we stepped in the wrong direction a bit by choosing to use
xhtml. We got the impression from sites like w3.org and many others who
use xhtml that xhtml was the way to go. Also, we're interested and
inspired by the the logic of xml valid documents in general. When we
have to use br tags, we do in fact open and close them as you put:
<br></br> but this puts double breaks in some browsers. (A degradation
even I will consider graceful.)

Thanks again for your feedback.



Geoffrey Oxholm

Oazao, Inc.

Received on Wednesday, 9 February 2005 20:27:26 UTC

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