W3C implicit endorsement of commercial products

I have raised this issue verbally on several occasions, and it has
been suggested that I post here.

My Site Valet service has offered online HTML accessibility analysis
for over two years.  Since about the beginning of 2002, it has
offered an altogether more detailed and comprehensive assesment
against the WCAG and US Section 508 guidelines than any other
service available online.  This has been built using my own very
limited resources, with no support or sponsorship.

All the time, I am struggling with the fact that another service,
Bobby, appears to have W3C endorsement, and is therefore taken as an
automatic choice by all but the handful of developers with sufficient
expertise to make their own judgement of different products.  The
recommendation to use Bobby on numerous pages at w3.org[1]
has effectively excluded me, as a developer without the
backing of a marketing department, from consideration amongst
non-specialist developers who should be the main target market
for my own work.  So long as this situation persists, it is
likely to continue to kill off any innovation not backed by
a major corporation.

I would cite as cases in point the UK government guidelines
(having spoken at some length to the office of the e-envoy,
they told me they recommend Bobby precisely because it is
recommended by W3C), and in contrast a local developer with
a strong interest in usability, who had previously only heard
of Bobby, but instantly appreciated the superiority of Valet
when she saw it.

Now this is in sharp contrast to W3C's stated policy of being
industry-neutral, which has been cited to me at various times,
and which I would be very happy to accept if it was adhered to
in practice.  A recommendation of a particular product on such
crucial pages as the WCAG guidelines carries such weight that
it must surely at the very least be kept under constant review.

Can I suggest that the W3C pages be reviewed as a matter of
urgency?  The review should take into consideration the fact
that this situation has existed for several years - and may
indeed have been justified in the 1990s - and has led to a
situation where "everyone knows" that Bobby is "the official

Thank you for your attention.

[1] A simple Google search turns up a long list, including for example,
    the WCAG guidelines page at <URL:http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG10/>.

Nick Kew

Received on Wednesday, 7 August 2002 13:10:28 UTC