Conflicts between user style sheets and W3C recommendations

There are fundamental conflicts between the CSS spec
and my (IE 3) user style sheet.

See the attached file to see what I mean (the links
are green on green, since I specify a green background
colour for my links, but the CSS spec does not specify
a value).

In addition, the background image conflicts with my
style rules (do authors have the right to rely on
inheritance? - I specify:
BODY, all block elements, etc. {
color: #ffa
to avoid certain bugs in my user style sheet?).

In addition, to all intents and purposes I have BODY
{background: black !important} (background doesn't
work in LINKed style sheets (as used by the W3C) in IE
3 so I set it via user preferences).

So it doesn't seem that these are very sensible:

div.deprecated-html-example p { color: black }
div.illegal-html-example p { color: black }
div.illegal-dtd-example p { color: black }
div.illegal-xml-example p { color: black }

I realise that my user style sheet design is poor
(e.g., the spec should state that if you make
background !important, you should make color
!important, equally A formatting vs. BODY), but until
I can disable author, but not user style sheets I
don't see how I can improve it without subjecting
myself to IE's bugs.

So is my solution:

(a) to get the CSS spec's style sheet changed so that
it specifies color and background on each element
(b) kill my user style sheet (in view of the fact that
my bad design is necessitated by IE's bugs, and
therefore to kill the bad design would be to kill the
style sheet)?

There is a wider issue here, which is of how much, if
anything, the author has the right to expect from his

P.S. the A conflicts are the one thing that are
definite bad design in the CSS style sheet, the rest
of it is a matter of opinion.

P.P.S. The background-images should be killed - I
can't remove them in IE 3 (backgrounds don't work via
linked style sheets) and they are slow and pointless

P.P.P.S. All user style sheets that set color: will
conflict with some HTML-only documents - lazy HTML
authors (in this case Yahoo! Mail) assume that the
viewer will be using black text and thus only bother
to set bgcolor and not text.

However, my ultra-specific rules would also conflict
with ones that had set text as well.

P.P.P.P.S. I've learned my lessons and I've redone my
style sheet. The new one works really well (and I mean
well - most pages that don't use style sheets look
better with my user style sheet than most sites that

P.P.P.P.P.S. To my astonishment I have just found that
BODY {background} does work in user style sheets in IE
3 - I had previously left it out on the assumption
that since it doesn't work on LINK, it wouldn't work
via user style sheets. It also has the happy (although
buggy) consequence of resulting in all of BODY's
attributes being ignored, along with all font tags.

From Matthew Brealey ( (for law)or (for CSS))
Do You Yahoo!?
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Received on Tuesday, 14 December 1999 08:20:21 UTC