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Re: HTML produced by non-experts

From: Kynn Bartlett <kynn-hwg@idyllmtn.com>
Date: Sat, 16 May 1998 22:28:49 -0700
Message-Id: <>
To: Charles McCathieNevile <charlesn@sunrise.srl.rmit.edu.au>
Cc: WAI <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
At 12:58 p.m. 05/17/98 +1000, Charles McCathieNevile wrote:
>The discussion has been prompted because 'someone's secretaries need to 
>produce HTML, but don't know how to write HTML'.
>The simple answer is:
>Provide them with proper training, so they do know how to produce HTML. 
>Most people can learn to produce basic HTML, and to understand why that 
>is preferable for so many cases, in a few days. That is the bottom line 
>cost - you cannot make strawberry jam from cow's manure, you have to buy 

It's a simple answer, but it doesn't work in the real world -- at
least, not my world.

HTML is complex and intimidating to people who aren't computer types,
who aren't programmers.  It requires thinking in ways that are natural
for you or I, but are not at all "natural" for the average office
worker at Claremont Graduate University (where I'm employed).

None of these people have "learn HTML" as part of their job, although
they do have "produce web pages".  They don't have "a few days" to
take from their other duties to learn HTML; they have other duties
that don't involve web design at all, and those are more than enough
to keep them busy.

As my job, I coordinate a number of people who have to create web
pages on the CGU campus.  These people do not have the time nor the
background to learn HTML easily, and yet, the web pages are expected
to be up to date and accurate.  My main concern is that they are
able to create and maintain pages, not that they are learning "good

For this reason, I encourage them to use Netscape Communicator's
"Composer" program.  It's not great, but it's somewhat harmless,
compared to other stuff that's out there.  What's more, it's free,
it's relatively easy to use, and it's already installed on the
computers of all my users.

As a "simple solution", I'd love to see all CGU web publishers
learning HTML in detail -- however, that simply won't work in _my_
real world.  Insisting that they learn HTML and not use a WYSIWYG
editor means either "the pages will never get updated" or it
means "Kynn maintains all 3,000 pages on our site" (which is
specifically _not_ my job here).

So I encourage the use of Composer; I'd rather have them using
the web -- as publishers -- than not using it at all.  'Requiring
detailed HTML knowledge' equals 'nobody publishes to the web.'
And that's not my job.

Kynn Bartlett <kynn@hwg.org>
Vice President, Marketing and Outreach, HTML Writers Guild
Education & Outreach working group member, Web Accessibility Initiative
Received on Sunday, 17 May 1998 01:25:14 UTC

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