An angry fix

Some of the best minds working in web standards have been quietly or loudly abandoning the W3C. Björn Hörmann is the latest. His reasons for leaving the W3C QA Group make compelling reading (hat tip: Terje Bless). I believe in W3C standards, particularly the ones you and I use every day, but I worry about the direction in which the W3C is headed.

Beholden to its corporate paymasters who alone can afford membership, the W3C seems increasingly detached from ordinary designers and developers. Truth be told, we and our practical concerns never drove the organization. But after ordinary designers and developers spent nearly a decade selling web standards to browser makers and developing best practices around accessibility and semantics, one hoped the W3C might realize that there was value in occasionally consulting its user base.

Alas, the organization appears unconcerned with our needs and uninterested in tapping our experience and insights. It remains a closed, a one-way system. Like old-fashioned pre-cable TV advertising. Not like the web.

To be fair, the W3C solicits community feedback before finalizing its recommendations. But asking people to comment on something that is nearly finished is not the same as finding out what they need and soliciting their collaboration from the start.

We require coherent specifications based on our and our users’ actual needs. Upcoming accessibility and markup specifications fail on both counts. We require validation tools that work and are kept up to date. Instead, tools are still broken years after problems are reported.

Two things could happen. Either the W3C will make a course correction, or the standards-based design community will look elsewhere.

[tags]web standards, w3c, wcag, xhtml, web design, microformats[/tags]

88 thoughts on “An angry fix

  1. Pingback: groups.drupal.org
  2. I think we’re looking at a course correction on the part of the W3C. They need to pay attention to what our community is doing and work more closely with us. A little bird tells me that they know this, and that positive changes may be in the offing.

  3. Pingback: Gezeitenwechsel
  4. Pingback: Mink Machine
  5. Hi!
    I’ve read the article and found it really nice and interesting.
    W3C is a great organisation, I suppose. There are the plenty of sites, and they do everything right, controlling them, because people sometimes do not know what they do wrong. And it is their task to take care of it.
    Great deal!

  6. Pingback: wiggled@cic
  7. I dont think the W3C could possibly consult the users (or designers for that matter). Everyone would have a different opinion and/or needs and that would just make their lives more miserable. The problem in my opinion is that, the W3C was established very late. Why is it that everyone follows other standards, be it for TCP/IP, IRC etc but fails to imply with the standards imposed by the W3C? I guess its the freedom they have given (plus the time it took for it to get established ofcourse! :P). Whose going to stop them? With standards, W3C should build strict policies too. “Follow our policies or dont be a member of this organisation!”. That might sound dumb to most readers but lets face it, what else can they do?

  8. Now, what is there for the more pedestrian users of CSS? While there were some misguided conclusions in Dvorak’s article, there were also elements of truth. CSS can be very frustrating when one is left to some sort of self-taught methodology. Standards bodies don’t provide the kinds of answers that work-a-day CSS users need in spite of protestations to the contrary. If experts can’t agree, what are those of us on the outside supposed to do? Books about CSS sometimes use valuable chapters explaining

  9. Pingback: Standards Essay
  10. In addition to the complaints you’ve registered here, I think the process for reviewing and grading websites is also seriously broken. Too often a page that utilizes tons of code will be downgraded for very minor infractions, and many times this means pages with tons of violations can essentially wind up with the same rating as a complex page with minor violations. In addition, there have been lots of questions raised lately about whether standards have a tendency to stifle creativity in some programmers, never allowing them to push the boundaries of what is acceptable in order to see what might be accomplished outside the rules. Generally, I think standards are a good idea, and I have use them and even promote them in the past, but I do think that there are some major issues that need to be addressed if the average programmer is going to continue to support them.

  11. I think having multiple standards organizations in the same arena dilutes the authority of all of them. Many people setting up alternative standards organizations know this. That they are going ahead anyway may indicate recklessness, but more likely it indicates the severity of the W3C’s problems.

  12. What’s happening to W3C? Although I’ve heard a lot of people leaving W3C, I still don’t understand what’s going on with W3C. Why are they not doing anything to get hold of these important people or clients? Are they up to something?

  13. Truth be told, we and our practical concerns never drove the organization. But after ordinary designers and developers spent nearly a decade selling web standards to browser makers and developing best practices around accessibility and semantics, one hoped the W3C might realize that there was value in occasionally consulting its user base…

Comments are closed.