W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-validator@w3.org > November 2021

RSS feed validator as a content blacklist

From: John Andrews <w3c@johnea.net>
Date: Sun, 14 Nov 2021 13:58:59 -0800
Message-ID: <5bca9d36-63d7-d5ec-4a52-fb270f5d0b27@johnea.net>
To: www-validator@w3.org
Hello,

I've recently run into a problem as a user of the thunderbird email/RSS client.

RSS feeds I've been subscribed to for years, and reading via thunderbird, are no longer displayed.

The reason for refusal to display, cited by thunderbird, is failure to verify via:

https://validator.w3.org/feed/

While I agree that the W3C tools are invaluable in confirming and improving standards compliance during software development. I don't agree that these tools should be used for the purpose of blacklisting content. Which is what thunderbird is doing.

My question is in two parts:

1) Is it the intention of W3C that these validators be used to block access to sites or feeds which do not fully comply?

2) The specific issues causing one example feed to fail:
https://validator.w3.org/feed/check.cgi?url=https%3A%2F%2Fstallman.org%2Frss%2Frss.xml
----------
Sorry

This feed does not validate.

     line 24, column 36: pubDate must be an RFC-822 date-time: 2021-11-12 18:18:34 [help]

                 <pubDate>2021-11-12 18:18:34</pubDate>
                                             ^

     line 25, column 8: XML parsing error: <unknown>:25:8: unbound prefix [help]

                 <dc:creator>Richard Stallman</dc:creator>
                 ^

Source: https://stallman.org/rss/rss.xml
----------

Neither of the two issues reported make the feed unviewable.

2-1) The requirement for RFC-822 time/date format seems odd, as it is obsoleted by RFC-2822. However, even the newer RFC, specifies the use of english strings for day and month names, while RFC-3339 time format is numeric only, thus more international, and preferred by technical users.

2-2) I haven't dug into this specific XML violation, but again, this lack of W3C validation has no impact on ability to render and view the feed.

In both of these cases the failure to verify is due to issues many would refer to as "typographical", not substantive.

This brings us back to question 1. In light of these specific XML conformance failures, is W3C validation intended to serve as a content blacklist?

If yes, perhaps a less strict validator could be provided, specifically for use in preventing access to structurally unparsable sites and feeds.

If no, then perhaps a clarification to users that the validators are not intended to serve as content blacklists.

Thank you for your time and attention...

John Andrews
w3c@johnea.net
2021-11-14

p.s. An administrative question 3)
      The validator feedback page: https://validator.w3.org/feedback.html
      Refers to an IRC channel #validator on freenode.
      freenode has largely been abandoned for libera.chat and other IRC networks.
      Like RSS, I'm also still a user of IRC. Has the W3C #validator channel moved to another network?
      Thanks Again!
Received on Monday, 15 November 2021 07:42:10 UTC

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