Alternatives to the W3C

Dave Winer dave at
Thu Jan 20 15:35:26 GMT 2000

Hey, Elliotte, stop the name-calling, OK?

You're all over the map. The EditThisPage.Com webmasters run their own
sites. They're the ones that are teaching me about this stuff. I have no
control over what HTML they put in their templates, nor would I want to have
such control.

UserLand.Com sites should work in any browser above the 3.x level. If you're
having problems accessing those sites, then please report the problems.

The fact that you ignore XML-RPC is your loss and ours and your readers.
Shame on you for not raising these issues before. The technology is too
important to let it slip for such silly reasons. Now, if can you address me
in a respectful tone, we can get some work done here.

Thanks for listening.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Elliotte Rusty Harold" <elharo at>
To: "Dave Winer" <dave at>
Cc: <xml-dev at>
Sent: Thursday, January 20, 2000 7:16 AM
Subject: Re: Alternatives to the W3C

> Dave Winer wrote:
> >We've had this discussion at length on my site, and reached a conclusion.
> >There are two types of developers in the world:
> >
> >1. Web developers, who must look at the content exactly as their users
> >at it. For these people, today, that's MSIE 5.x on Windows, not any
> >handler, that specific one.
> These developers are deluding themselves. MSIE 5.x is less than 50%
> of the current installed base. Even within that subset, users have
> different fonts, different default window sizes, different monitors,
> etc., etc., etc. Competent  developers who understand the Web know
> how to design without limiting themselves to the 1% or less of the
> market that has web browsers set up exactly like their development
> system.
> Or perhaps these developers are simply arrogant and don't care about
> their users. I've certainly met enough unreconstructed artists who
> couldn't make a living at art, printed some new business cards, and
> now call themselves web designers. But they don't really care whether
> or not anyone can use their site as long as they maintain the purity
> of their artistic vision.  In fact a lot of these egotists get a kick
> out of doing something that the masses can't see. They think that
> means they're cool or cutting edge. (I think it means they're
> idiots.) Sites that really want to communicate with readers like
> or the W3C site don't rely on fancy tricks that aren't
> accessible to the masses.
> I saw an interesting quote on your site today, Dave. Here it is:
> Jeremy Bowers has the neatest Manila trick I've seen. You can expand
> and collapse items on his home page, day by day. Apparently Jeremy's
> site crashes Mac browsers. Some Mac users think we should only use
> features that work on Macs. Someday the Mac will catch up and we'll
> want to know how to do this stuff. Enough waiting. Buy Macs as web
> browsing machines with your eyes open. You won't be able to use all
> the sites on the web, until Apple catches up.
> You actually seem to think it's acceptable to publish a web site that
> crashes users' browsers! This is the height of hubris. You want every
> one to change their computers and browsers so they're exactly like
> yours. And if they don't, then they deserve it if they crash. How
> obnoxious can you get?
> Now, I would say that it's first the responsibility of the browser
> not to crash no matter what; and of the operating system to make sure
> that a misbehaving application doesn't bring down other apps or the
> OS. Nonetheless, if I know that my site is exercising a bug in a
> browser, I will work around it, one way or another.
> Leaving that aside, I'll give you a practical example. You, Dave
> Winer, Userland, have lost business because your site doesn't work in
> all browsers. Personally, I think you're an interesting (if
> occasionally frustrating) guy, and I like reading what you have to
> say. But probably 50% of the time I try to follow a link from
> deeper into your site or an Edit-This-Page site,
> something goes wrong. Eventually I learned to stop following links
> that go to your own site. It probably won't surprise you that most of
> the time I'm reading from Netscape on a Mac. No big deal, you can
> write me off by telling me to buy a PC, or for that matter, to use
> the PC I already own. I won't do that. It interferes with my work
> flow. You're not that important to me.
> Now what impact has this had on you and Userland? Directly, not much;
> but indirectly the effect has been huge. It so happens I've written
> what is right now the bestselling introductory text on XML, which
> thousands of people a month are using to learn what XML is and what
> it can do. Do you know how many times Frontier, XML-RPC and all the
> other interesting things you've been doing with XML are mentioned in
> that book? Zero, nil, nada, not once. Why? Because although I
> considered writing a chapter about XML-RPC or whatever you were
> calling it a few months ago, I knew that I couldn't reliably get
> through to all the crucial information on your site. So I wrote about
> something else instead. No big deal for me or my readers. There are
> lots of exciting things going on with XML that I can write about
> instead. But it's a big deal for you. (Well maybe not a big deal, but
> I suspect it's ultimately worth a few sales to you).
> I also run one of the five most popular XML news sites on the web. I
> do occasionally mention XML-RPC or other ideas you've had, but not
> nearly as much as I would if your site were actually reliable. In
> fact the most common thing you'll find about you and your products on
> my site is a quote from you, because I can do that in pure HTML on my
> site without worrying about whether your site will be accessible to
> my readers. (My site, by the way, should be accessible to everyone
> from Netscape 1.1 up. If it's not, I consider it a bug.)
> Who else are you losing Dave? Maybe not many people, but maybe more
> than you think and maybe some key ones. Back around 1995 I clearly
> remember demoing a site to a potential client and watching with
> horror as he pulled up his browser, some  custom version of Spry
> Mosaic which couldn't handle the tables we used on our demo site.
> Maybe everyone else in his company was using Netscape (which had
> about 90% of the market at the time) but we lost the sale
> nonetheless. After that I quickly learned to test all my sites in
> Mosaic. I may not do that any more but I damn sure test them in
> Netscape 3 on a Mac and a lot of other browsers. I want readers to
> enjoy my site. I want them to come back to my site. I don't want
> their browsers to crash. And if that means I have to do a little
> extra work, or forego a few cool browser tricks, then so be it.
> +-----------------------+------------------------+-------------------+
> | Elliotte Rusty Harold | elharo at | Writer/Programmer |
> +-----------------------+------------------------+-------------------+
> |                  The XML Bible (IDG Books, 1999)                   |
> |                   |
> |   |
> +----------------------------------+---------------------------------+
> |  Read Cafe au Lait for Java News: |
> |  Read Cafe con Leche for XML News:     |
> +----------------------------------+---------------------------------+

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