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Communique

November 22, 2006

A good way of informing someone they missed an alt attribute:

On a sidenote: there’s an alt tag missing for an image at your homepage, causing the W3C validator to fail. Just thought you’d like to know.

A less good way of informing someone they missed an alt attribute:

Just a though [sic], when you pride youself [sic] on accessibility, you should make sure your statements are true. Your homepage is not strict XHTML […] suck it up and be more careful.

When your first contact with someone you don’t know ends up implying they’re a liar, then delivers a blunt directive over a relatively easy-to-make error, in a world where no one is perfect 100% of the time… you may just be doing more harm than good with that second approach.

Just a though.


1
Baffe says:
November 22, 10h

None of my sites has any alt tags, at all. Oh well, I did get the point but I couldn’t help posting this anyway. ;-)

2
MB says:
November 22, 10h

Oh, the shame. I fear that I may have sent the message in question. Though(t) I’m not 100% sure.

Dave S. says:
November 22, 10h

MB - no, that was quoted verbatim. It wasn’t you.

4
Chris ZS says:
November 22, 10h

This has me thinking, wouldn’t it be a neat service that would do a periodic validation on a specified page and e-mail you if it found errors? Sort of like a credit watch for web standards.

Elaine says:
November 22, 11h

Chris ZS – I used to subscribe to a feed of the validator’s results for my page, which only showed a new item if there was an error. Oddly, I don’t seem to have it in my list anymore, and I can’t remember why!

(I don’t know if this thing – http://www.benhammersley.com/tools/xhtml_validator_to_rss.html – by Ben Hammersley is the one I was using or not.)

Mike D. says:
November 22, 11h

Another neat service would be a daily e-mail you could subscribe to which just sent you the same message every morning:

“This is your daily reminder that validation doesn’t make you any sexier.”

7
rich says:
November 22, 11h

That is simply a level of anal retentiveness that no one should engage in. Worrying about the code on your own site is one thing, but when people are checking for you, and lambaste you–well, that’s just scary (and beyond nerdy).

November 22, 11h

Gotta love how the Interweb empowers random acts of meanness. I think I would have punched the monitor. :-P

November 22, 11h

Dude what the hell is wrong with you? The end of your posts says “Just a though.”

What is a though? I mean do you speak English or what? Oh thats right you’re from Canada. Fix your site right away.

This is ridiculous you pretend to be all ‘Look at me, I write in English’ then on your very own site you write sentences that don’t make sense.

Commit Seppuku now! I demand an apology for your free content and help.

10
MB says:
November 22, 11h

Phew, thank gosh for tha (sic) :D

Chris, I don’t know if such a service exists but it’s so obvious, now that you say it, that it may well be a brilliant idea

I’ve seen lots “link-checker” services whereby some bot or under-paid human scrapes or clicks the links on a site checking the HTTP response codes and informing the site’s owners of 404s etc

If we could have a web service or similar to aide the automation of the validation processes then that would be a great and a good thing for all concerned

Dave S. says:
November 22, 12h

“Commit Seppuku now! I demand an apology for your free content and help.”

Now THAT is an effective way to get your message across. Nice.

November 22, 12h

I’m reminded of a great quote by Theodore Roosevelt:

“It is not the critic who counts, nor the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat; who strives valiantly; who errs and may fail again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who does know the great enthusiasm, the great devotion; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

I think the second commenter probably falls into the cold and timid souls category. Always looking for the smallest mistake to critize.

Adam H says:
November 22, 12h

I’m of the same mind as a few posters here, random acts of meanness and anal retentiveness, etc. But Mike D’s comment brought a smile to my face, indeed validation is good but sexier I am not.

I think there is a growing trend away from hardcore Web Standards fanboyism toward actual real life usability and accessibility matters. That still doesn’t excuse your alt tag I’m afraid, unless it wouldn’t have conveyed anything useful to the non-sighted user ala a graphics design image.

Screen reader reads aloud: title date “sexy gradient with stripes” content.

November 22, 12h

In response to Mike’s idea, there should be an alternate email if your site does validate that congratulates you on being a bit less sexy. In all seriousness, it seems much of the blogosphere is getting hammered by overly hypocritical and dissenting comments lately. I blame digg. :)

leo says:
November 22, 13h

Being a “webmaster” is a neverending lesson in humility. Even when I get such messages, I tend to bow low and apologize for the offense.

Lena says:
November 22, 14h

Mike D. - there is always HassleMe [1] if you really, really need that daily email.

[1] http://www.hassleme.co.uk/

November 22, 14h

I think that same guy has emailed me before. It’s nerds like that who prompted my post about legalism.
http://www.standardsforlife.com/legalism-destroys-lets-build-up
I’m still surprised when I see rants from standards legalists who haven’t been around the block long enough to learn humility, tact, and well, mercy.

18
Geoff says:
November 22, 14h

I’m surprised nobody called you out on calling it an ‘alt tag’.

19
Chris D says:
November 22, 15h

Jealousy is a terrible thing… The individual that sent you this note is probably a very lonesome person that would have a lot to win by attending grammar class. A shot at meeting people AND learn to write.

Dave S. says:
November 22, 15h

“I’m surprised nobody called you out on calling it an ‘alt tag’.”

sigh. I can’t tell if that’s a joke. If not, you might want to reconsider what you know about the blockquote element.

21
MojoMark says:
November 22, 16h

I’m continually amazed at the rude and crass remarks posted on a forum, blog or email to people by complete strangers… Why can’t people be more polite? Does the anonymous nature of the web make people forget their manners?

An enthusiastic middle finger salute and a hearty “Up Yours” to that person, and rude people in general.

devolute says:
November 22, 17h

Harsh. Just make sure you don’t get him started on ‘title’…

23
Lee says:
November 22, 17h

“sigh. I can’t tell if that’s a joke. If not, you might want to reconsider what you know about the blockquote element.”

I think he’s talking about alt being an attribute not a tag. <a> , <blockquote> , <li>, etc are (opening) tags. src, alt, etc., are attributes.

24
Neal says:
November 22, 18h

Forget the issue of being polite. Folks that go around validating other people’s sites should be taken to the woodshed.

Dave S. says:
November 22, 19h

“I think he’s talking about alt being an attribute not a tag. , , , etc are (opening) tags. src, alt, etc., are attributes.”

Apparently I’d better cut to the chase. Yes, I know. The reference to an “alt tag” was (block)quoted text. As in, somebody else’s. As in, not me.

26
René says:
November 22, 19h

“Forget the issue of being polite. Folks that go around validating other people’s sites should be taken to the woodshed.”

What exactly happens in this woodshed? More importantly, is it fun and can I join in?

On another note, people who go around validating your site just to see if they can send you an angry email are indeed dumb. People who validate your site because they see a bug when it loads and want drop a line to the webmaster to bring it to his attention are nothing short of helpful. However, there are many more of the former than the latter.

November 22, 21h

The legacy of Mr. Jeffrey Zeldman. Thanks for the memories…

28
Martin says:
November 23, 03h

I use the term “alt tags” for people who don’t know what an “alt attribute” is, as long as we both get out of something, e.g. fix the damn alt attribute with a value in it.

> Hey dude, your alt tag is missing, fix it bozo!

Timbo says:
November 23, 04h

Benjamin - of course the grahpics you’re referring to (“left corner of large box” etc), being decorative, have no business in the html file anyway, but should be located in the css, so certainly wouldn’t have/need alt text. Also, spacer gifs? - get back to 1999!

Dave - ref the “alt tag” confusion, I suppose many readers, like me, thought your first quotation was a ficititious, example quote by you - written as a comparison with the ruder genuine quote. Not that I’d have bothered pointing it out personally!

Mojo Mark -
“Does the anonymous nature of the web make people forget their manners?”
Sadly, yes. Though I don’t see much evidence of manners out the real world either.

Sean says:
November 24, 21h

Those people are about as much fun as grammar nazis on public boards. I’d just trash the message and continue about my day, as there is no reason to let someone without a life under your skin.

Bruce says:
November 26, 18h

My preferred method of responding to abuse like this to fix the problem then write back a polite acknowledgement.

Does it shame the writer into better behaviour? Dunno. But it makes me feel superior and that’s all that matters.

Those people who write nice letters pointing out problems that I didn’t know about? They are a precious resource and I make sure they know it when I reply.

32
IronKurton says:
November 27, 14h

Maybe the dude is blind and really needed to tell what the image was?

I really can’t think of any other reasons why some random person would go around validating other people’s pages. I really, re-heeally can’t…

I like the idea of automatic validations, but let’s take it a step further: a spider that validates and collects statistics on (non-)validated pages and emails the webmasters with the errors. Sort of like a Validation Google – Voogle if you will.

Жиле says:
December 05, 14h

OMG…if someone came to my site and act rude towards me, OK, I am more of a graphic designer, more concerned about looks than accessibility, but this is so silly…someone comes and acts like a jerk on a blog of a man who changed a lot of things on the web :D…funny. Easy on the alt attribute/tag/whatever, it’s not the end of the world, nobody’s perfect…Dave will fix that or has already fixed.
Support from Serbia, go Dave! :D
and PLEASE don’t validate my site!!! It’s a car-wreck, heeh

December 06, 12h

It’s amazing to see all the barbarians out there, atleast it appears that way looking at all comments and email one recieves during a year. A lot of people have biiiiig balls (behind the keyboard that is).

Once I was in a real crazy discussion in a news group with a madman, but luckily for me, some IP tools and some googling I resolved his complete name and adress and invited him to take the discussion outside the forum and into a local pub, since I found his remaks way off. That solved it! Those big anonymous alias balls suddenly became tiny weeny official balls…

Don’t you love those “Your retarded fuckup page doesnt validate, you are missing a / on your XHTML img tag - you are a shame to the webdesigner community, you should kill yourself!”. I got one of those some months back, and kinda obvious - it came from the contact form on our page sp I was not able to respond… Wonder why the person didnt have the balls to stand behind his nice statements?

Being polite and constructive, usually the best way to make a difference! And most of us fix such sloppy errors in a minute as soon as we are aware of them.

Honestly, spending all day validating webpages in case of a moron-attack - seems a waste of time to me.

35
Dudeness says:
December 08, 12h

I remember reading a complete analysis of the effects of anonymity on the internet users but I can’t find it anymore. Oh, wait, here is is :)

http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2004/03/19

December 11, 17h

Dave - You wrote “Just a though.”

That’s just naugh t…..

At the risk of violating this bit of the comment policy,

“Contribute something.
Quality over quantity. Say something important; add value to the discussion. One-line replies may be deleted.”

I am not sure if you left off the ‘t’ on purpose or not, to evoke a response.

It evoked one in me, thus…as I was browsing through your articles, I noticed that a ‘t’ appears to be missing from the end of the word ‘though’ in this one.

Cheers,

Peter

December 16, 03h

I was going to make a comment about how the downside of putting links to the W3C validator on your site is that you’re inviting people to click on it, and then proceed to tell you every error that it found. (sometimes rudely)

But, I don’t see one of those links on this page. That means that someone must have taken it upon themselves to validate your page for you. Talk about being anal!

Since we’re on the topic, I decided to be anal myself and validate your page. 39 errors. It seems like most of them are coming from closing ‘MTMacroApply’ tags that are not opened. Not sure if you were aware of them or not, but I just ‘though’ I’d give you a heads up.

Now suck it up and be more careful…