Re: Versioning re-visited (was : mixed signals on "Writing HTML documents", tutorial, etc.)

Ian Hickson wrote:

> On Thu, 21 Jun 2007, Philip Taylor (Webmaster) wrote:

>> A document which was valid HTML 4.0 (and therefore, for example, did not 
>> include the "name" attribute on an image) will still be valid today, and 
>> an invalid HTML 4.0 document (which, for example, /did/ include such an 
>> atribute) will still be invalid today.  That is indisputably correct.  
> Well, no, it's not "indisputably" correct, since I am in fact disputing 
> it. 

[long snip]

Then are you claiming to be a better judge of an HTML document's
validity than the current W3C Validator ?  Because if I offer
instances of the two documents described aboved to the validator,
it will inform me that the former is valid and the latter is
invalid, and as a long-time user of the validation service I am
more inclined to believe its judgement than that of any one
individual, unless that individual can demonstrate that the
validator has indeed made an error.

Now to be fair, I don't think you /are/ claiming to be a better
judge of an HTML document's validity than the current W3C Validator,
but rather you are seeking to challenge the very basis of the
concept of "validity".  I argue that "validity" is a simple
pass-or-fail criterion, and that the test of validity is the
comparison of the document with the specification against which
it claims to have been written.  You are, I think, arguing
that "validity" varies over time, and that something that was
once "invalid" may become "valid" if it is consistent with
a later specification, or that something that was once "valid"
may become "invalid" for an analogous reason.

If so, I regard that as a /very/ slippery slope, and one that
has far more in common with the frequently heard suggestion
that a "valid" document is one that renders "correctly" (whatever
that may mean) in the author's preferred browser on the author's
preferred platform using the author's preferred operating system
(and perhaps even if there is an "R" in the month) than it does
with validity /qua/ validity.

Answers (if any) to other points tomorrow.

Philip Taylor

Received on Thursday, 21 June 2007 21:25:39 UTC