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Journal: Down with the bold and italics tags! 1

Journal by ttfkam

People should stop using bold and italics tags in their comments on all discussion boards. These tags are like cursing: can be good to bring home a point from time to time but far more often are simply crutches to make up for the fact that the author can't effective express himself/herself.

Bold has no semantic meaning. It is meant to denote emphasis. Unfortunately this is used as a substitute for the lack of ability to use words for emphasis -- to use an idea to drive a point home.

People post simplistic messages. Bold text makes a simplistic message more noticeable. If you're going to be a simpleton, it's probably better not to advertise it quite so much.

Italics: used to denote publication titles and the like. Also used as an alternative to bold (see above). If there were a "publication" tag -- for example -- there would be no need for an italics tag in 99.9% of all comments.

Leave styling to the stylesheets and the rest to semantic markup.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot; Learn how to spell!

Slashdot.org

Journal: Where are the standards?

Journal by ttfkam

Slashdot has been of great service to the community for years. Not just free software advocates, not just programmers, but rather the net at large. Slashdot was one of the first visible attempts at an interactive news organization on the internet.

I say this now so that people understand that my criticisms of Slashdot below are to be taken with a grain of salt.

Where are the standards? One of the overriding themes in most Slashdot stories is that standards are good to avoid vendor lockin, to promote a common platform to reduce duplicated effort, and to make interoperability easier. So where are the standards on Slashdot? They use MySQL, Apache,and Perl on the backend. I'd choose different tech, but that's a choice that was made. In the end, the HTTP layer is standard, the database layer is...relatively standard, and the logic layer is well understood and standard for web development -- manipulation of HTTP headers, request variables, etc.

What about the content? I see a doctype header that says it's HTML 3.2 compliant (which is to say compliant with the hodgepodge of markup commonly found in the height of the first IE/Netscape wars), a heaping pile of script tags and document.write() JavaScript statements, and a boatload of tables to do layout.

HTML 4 was released five years ago. XHTML 1.0 is almost three years old. CSS2 is four years old. CSS1 is now six years old! The major browsers support up to date X/HTML and CSS now so what's holding Slashdot back? Is it Netscape 4? That steaming pile? It's certainly not because the information won't be available: XHTML degrades well with regard to content -- only layout suffers. It can't be because of technical issues because XHTML+CSS is smaller, easier to maintain, and much more bandwidth friendly than tables and font tags.

It must be so that Netscape 4 can be pretty too. You know what! Fuck Netscape 4!!! Fuck it with a big fat ass tree trunk and break it off inside! There are so many wonderful directions the web can take. There are so many technologies to explore. There is so much bandwidth to save. Why are we sacrificing this for the sake of older browsers. Let them get the information, but if they can't style it well, SO BE IT. I can't think of better incentive for people to either (a) upgrade their browser to one of the many free options, (b) upgrade their browser to one of the many commercial options, or (c) decide that pretty pictures aren't why they use the web, and the clean, unadulterated pages they get with Netscape 3 are better for them.

Standards are good. Standards are great. Slashdot needs to set a new standard for itself.

Nothing is rich but the inexhaustible wealth of nature. She shows us only surfaces, but she is a million fathoms deep. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

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