W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-validator@w3.org > January 2003

Sending the wrong message wrt DOCTYPE and charset

From: Henry S. Thompson <ht@cogsci.ed.ac.uk>
Date: 20 Jan 2003 14:13:33 +0000
To: www-validator@w3.org
Message-ID: <f5bof6bzz76.fsf@erasmus.inf.ed.ac.uk>

I think the role of the validator is to help people debug their web
pages, so that we get a better web, and I don't think the current
behaviour wrt missing DOCTYPE and/or charset is achieving that.

I've never seen (or would certainly never use a 2nd time) a compiler
that stopped processing my source file the first time it saw an error.

So why don't we issue a full-blown "This document is broken" message
if charset or DOCTYPE are missing, but then go on to recover as best
we can, so we can give more error messages.  This is a tool to _help_
people after all, not a web browser.

If that still seems too much of a compromise, couldn't we at least
provide two pulldowns on the "You lose" pages, as appropriate --
"Re-validate with [....] charset" and/or "Re-validate with [...] 

I don't think the presence of those pulldowns on the home page are
sufficient -- many people are told how to use the validator via a
canned URL: "Use this, replacing 'any.html' with your own URL", or
some such.  It would make a _big_ difference in perceived usability if
they came up on the error pages, as suggested above.

Just to be clear, I am _not_ proposing that the "Valid HTML" banner
should show unless there's a DOCTYPE specified and a charset
determinable in an unequivocal standards-conformant way.

  Henry S. Thompson, HCRC Language Technology Group, University of Edinburgh
          W3C Fellow 1999--2002, part-time member of W3C Team
     2 Buccleuch Place, Edinburgh EH8 9LW, SCOTLAND -- (44) 131 650-4440
	    Fax: (44) 131 650-4587, e-mail: ht@cogsci.ed.ac.uk
		     URL: http://www.ltg.ed.ac.uk/~ht/
 [mail really from me _always_ has this .sig -- mail without it is forged spam]
Received on Monday, 20 January 2003 09:13:30 UTC

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