Time to Drop Web Standards?

Oct
12
2008

Color and a Sign

Last month Molly Holzschlag lead an interesting discussion on the divided state of the web standards community on A List Apart.  Now we all know this has been happening for a while, this fragmentation of the web standards community.

Molly is prompting people to get involve with their web standards group of their choice, in an effort bolster the community, and maybe reverse the trend.

Okay it’s a good idea in theory; but in reality, from a personal view I’m tired of the same thing time and time again.  Take for example the Web Standards Group mailing list (we don’t have a local WSG) I’m finding the constant rehashing of topics and questions and answers a bit pointless, to the point that I’ve just lost interest.

Other standards groups, via their mailing lists or forums, can be at times almost hostile to newcomers, or just not interested in new blood.   Frankly I just don’t have the time to be bothered trying to be heard in such an environment.

Elephant in the Room.

Partly I blame some of the strong personalities involved, particularly in the volunteer web standards communities such as WHATWG and WaSP.  Especially with the WHATWG I have found the dominance of any discussion by a solid clique core.  So much so that outsiders are not seen as being welcome at all.   This in itself alone does not help foster the extension of a community at a time when getting volunteers of any way shape or form are becoming hard and harder to come by  worldwide.

From what I have observed, people have also just altered and shifted their view points, true they are still thinking of web standards in a way, but in most cases the gleam has gone from the shiny prize of standards perfection.

What do you think, have we all just moved on, learnt it all  and have now moved on?

The need and desire to move forward with the latest new innovation in the browser development community has lead to the implementation of early W3C draft guidelines by various vendors, in what is gearing up for an escalation.

Bring on the Darkest Hour.

It is this type of pressure the pushes the web community forward as well. You see the slower things move, the more we want the shiny new design toys that the browser vendors are offering, as they are building the hearts and mind of their browsers.  It’s really in a way gearing up to a war, a browser war.  A time of chaos and confusion, of  custom tags and the like.   So maybe this is the twilight before the darkest web standards hour.  So be it, it’s all a cycle, the wheel will turn.

Maybe all this web standards and best practice is really just a waste of time.  After all what real benefits, do web standards  deliver for the general web user. Remember a site can be highly usable and accessible, but still be a web standards horror story.  So if the user experience is good, do web standards count, optimistically I would like to think, yes.   But realistically maybe that is a no.

Sorry Mols I think it’s not looking good.  What do you think, is it time to drop web standards?

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1 comment

  1. I am very concerned about the impression that people aren’t welcome in the WHATWG — let me be the first to reassure you that all feedback is very welcome, whoever it may come from. I guarantee that I will personally read and respond to every single piece of feedback sent to the whatwg@whatwg.org mailing list (see http://whatwg.org/ and http://whatwg.org/mailing-list#specs for details).

    If you could let me know by private e-mail (ian@hixie.ch) why you felt turned away or not welcome, I would be very appreciative and will do everything I can to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.

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