W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-validator@w3.org > June 2002

Free hosting services append invalid HTML ads

From: Michael D. Crawford <crawford@goingware.com>
Date: Sun, 30 Jun 2002 05:52:42 -0230
Message-ID: <3D1EBFD2.3000703@goingware.com>
To: www-validator@w3.org


At least one free web hosting service appends HTML advertisements to 
members' pages that cause otherwise valid HTML documents to no longer 

Why this is a problem:

Obviously, you get what you pay for, and website authors who care 
whether their pages validate can pay for commercial hosting.

But many people get their first exposure to web publishing by using the 
free hosting services.  Many people cannot afford commercial hosting, 
such as the poor, students, people from developing countries, as well as 
people wanting to publish with some anonymity (not just warez 
distributors, but those working for political change).  All these people 
should be able to enjoy the benefits of valid HTML brings to them and 
their users.

Also, encouraging the free sites to use valid advertisements could 
result in a point of competitive advantage for some of the services, 
with the result that the remaining ones are pressured to follow suit, 
and mention it explicitly in their advertising, and thus raise 
consciousness about valid HTML in general.

The long version:

I taught my teenage niece how to write web pages tonight.  She's had her 
first computer just a few months and has been very excited to learn how 
to use it.

I thought I would try to be a good influence on her so from the very 
start I taught her to write hand-coded VALID html - XHTML 1.0 Strict, 
actually, and I got her started at CSS too, and what character encoding 
was and how to declare it in a <meta> tag.

I taught her to use the W3C Validation Service.

I decided she should get it hosted at one of the free hosting services. 
  (Maybe if she keeps writing web pages I'll spring for a real host, but 
I want to make sure she's really into writing web pages first.)   There 
are actually quite a few free hosts, you can find a list at:


I was hoping to find a host that didn't put their advertising on one's 
pages, and thought I found one, but it turns out the hosting service we 
selected appends a couple of advertising text links to the bottom of her 
page.  But neither of us found that really objectionable.

What we did find objectionable, though, is that the extra HTML results 
in an otherwise valid page no longer being able to validate!  There are 
just a couple of problems which would be pretty simple to fix - but 
neither I nor my niece can fix them, they're in HTML inserted by the 
hosting service.

I plan to write to the hosting service's tech support about this for 
her, but I suspect they won't be all that responsive.

I would like to suggest that someone survey the free hosting services, 
and make up a list of services that will leave their members' pages 
valid - that is, if a page was valid when it was uploaded, then it is 
still valid when it comes off the hosting service, even if advertising 
is appended to the HTML.

I'm going to post a message in the forum at http://www.freewebspace.net/ 
to point out this problem and suggest that the members there test the 
different services for valid HTML advertisements.

If you'd like to check this out for yourself, see Denika's page at:


I'd put in a link to run the validator on Denika's page but the URL is 
so long it would wrap in the email.

The original XHTML file validated when we uploaded it tonight.  At some 
point Denika will upload a new draft, and her new draft might not 
validate.  So if you want to investigate this in the long term, I 
suggest getting your own pages at each of the free sites.


Michael D. Crawford
GoingWare Inc. - Expert Software Development and Consulting

     Tilting at Windmills for a Better Tomorrow.
Received on Sunday, 30 June 2002 04:22:27 UTC

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