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

Re: Idea for the validators

From: Eric Anderson <anderson@cs.uoregon.edu>
Date: Tue, 29 Jul 2003 12:52:56 -0700
To: "Jukka K. Korpela" <jkorpela@cs.tut.fi>
Cc: www-validator@w3.org, cirrus <cirrus@linuxgames.com>
Message-ID: <20030729195255.GA22368@cs.uoregon.edu>

I'm not sure that I buy your basic point that affixing some seal of
approval is a bad idea, just because people don't know what it means.
Just about every electrical product sold in the US is marked with
Underwriters' Laboratory and FCC approvals, and I'm sure that the
percentage of toaster buyers who understand those certification
processes is smaller than the percentage of web surfers who
understand HTML validation.

For other examples, books generally include copyright registration
details and information about the printing (e.g. "printed on
acid-free paper"), toothpastes carry the ADA seal of approval, food
claims to be certified organic (if it is), shampoos claim not to be
tested on animals, and so on.  My own belief is that it is "normal"
for products to be labeled with assertions that they comply with
various standards, and people learn to expect those labels whether
they actually understand what goes into the certification process or
not. I don't see any real reason why this shouldn't be true of web
pages, too.  

Maybe you don't think those have any point, either, in which case
you're consistent but we disagree.  If you _do_ think they serve a
purpose, can you explain why this should be different? 

Just as with other stamps of approval, I think web page authors need
to make decisions about the informational and aesthetic value of such
badges.  Toaster ads don't feature big UL logos front and center, and
I don't think anyone's claiming that W3C badges should feature
prominently in the layout of every page.

| Eric W. Anderson                   E-Mail:  anderson@cs.uoregon.edu |
| Computer and Information Science   Phone:   (541)346-1381           |
| University of Oregon               USPS:    CIS Department          |
|                                             University of Oregon    |
|                                             Eugene, OR 97403-1202   |
|                                                                     |
| http://www.cs.uoregon.edu/~anderson/                                |

Thus spake Jukka K. Korpela (jkorpela@cs.tut.fi):

> On Tue, 29 Jul 2003, Olivier Thereaux wrote:
> > Most certainly, but I believe Jukka's main point was not that standards
> > are not important...
> Quite right. Although I have become less of a standards advocate (partly
> because I have got some experience on how standards are actually created
> and have had to listen to critics), the point really was that badges are a
> completely wrong way to promote standards. It means sending an obscure
> message to a large number of people, apparently in the hope that _some_ of
> them will understand and apply it, not caring about the vast majority that
> gets irritated or just confused. This reminds me of some undesirable
> phenomena on Internet E-mail...
> > Fair enough. However no one mentioned re-validation yet, which, for me
> > (as web author), is the main practical purpose of the badge.
> I think I have _somewhere_ mentioned that considered from that point of
> view, the badge (as a link) seems to ask the _user_ to validate the
> document for the author.
> > Whether
> > this is worth cluttering one's page with a badge, whether the fact that
> > anyone could follow the link and be puzzled is an acceptable tradeoff,
> > all this is the author's choice...
> No, I think the answer is clearly "no". It is absurd to put a link
> that should not be followed by visitors. (Naming the link as "Valid HTML!"
> or something like that makes the situation even more absurd, but the
> text or symbol of the link is not the point.)
> > And since Web authors actually put the badges on their pages, since
> > other people follow the link and get stranded on the validation results
> > page, there is a need for an explanation page
> No, I think the W3C should simply admit the error and stop
> strongly encourageing people to put those badges anywhere.
> That would be the first step. Then we might consider how to reduce
> the harm already done. Since the validator's messages are intended for
> people who author Web pages and know what validation is, the natural move
> would be to include a note explaining that authors should not include
> "Valid HTML!" links on their pages. It's still possible that an author who
> has such links will not actually use the validator any more but visitors
> will follow the link, but I'm afraid there's nothing we can do about it;
> it's one of the reasons why those links are all wrong.
> An explanation page that would explain the situation to a casual visitor
> would _still_ be all wrong communication: it would explain difficult
> things to people who lack the prerequisites and the need to understand
> the issue. If an author made the error of misleading his visitors,
> then it won't do any good to take them further into the business.
> The message they need is "you shouldn't be here, the author made a
> mistake, go back to his page".
> -- 
> Jukka "Yucca" Korpela, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/
Received on Tuesday, 29 July 2003 15:53:03 UTC

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