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View Full Version : Validation - always helpful?



jkd
12-03-2005, 06:11 AM
Due to sidetracking another thread (http://www.codingforums.com/showthread.php?t=73846), further discussion is being moved here.

I stated that:


Citing validation errors doesn't actually "help" anyone with their problems. Furthermore, it perpetuates the myth that validated markup is the end-all solution to HTML woes.


After seeing numerous "newbies" being blasted off these forums by overzealous members going to validator.w3.org almost before going to the very page in question, and then say that making the page validate will probably make the problems go away.

Yes, this is often true, but it is completely unfair to lambast someone new to this for something they don't know, then refuse to help until they "pay up" and fix their markup. It's a constructive extortion, but still extortion.

And there are massive differences between being "valid" and "well-formed", and having a stable cross-browser rendering. I know for a fact that browsers knowingly implement different means to make up for non-well-formedness, and construct entirely differently DOM's by not completing a tag or closing the wrong tag at positions in the markup. However, failing to validate against a DTD (having invalid markup) is often a "safe" mistake, putting marginleft="0" in the <body> tag isn't going to destroy your rendering in any browser, or making up tags which don't exist in the DTD will just render as unstyled inline elements (and construct identical DOMs, unless you're in IE).

Ultimately, I think you're doing a disservice by lording validation errors over newbies. Nobody has malicious intent when they code a page, so don't act like that they do when validator.w3.org says something isn't quite right. Certainly there are cases when you can't possibly figure out what's wrong because the markup is so terrible, but this doesn't occur as often as forum members simply not caring -- and there are lots of guilty people here (myself possibly included some time ago). There is a lot more to a good page than "validation" (and remember that XML doesn't even need to be validated, for example combining XHTML+SVG+MathML works just fine with or without a doctype), so don't pretend that there isn't.

Or, someone can convince me otherwise below. :) Let this be an informative thread.

drhowarddrfine
12-03-2005, 03:45 PM
Why validation is important (http://diveintomark.org/archives/2003/05/05/why_we_wont_help_you)
Validation may reveal your problem.
Validation may solve your problem.
Valid markup is hard enough to debug already.
Validation is an indicator of cluefulness.

Sometimes I write off a question from someone as "go validate your code" when the number of errors, or the type of errors, make me have to fight their code to help them. Sometimes I don't want to help them fix one problem when I know they will be back soon with more questions because they have so many errors in their code. A browser may display correctly with a missing end tag, and my suggested solution to their problem may work, but then they come back an hour later with a new problem caused by the missing end tag. If only they validated their code in the first place.

I am a C/C++/assembly programmer. I'm not allowed any errors in my code because the compiler won't produce an executable file with one. If your html/css code has an error, you may not get what you want on your browser or another browser. As we move forward toward xhtml/xml on the web, you will not be allowed errors there either.

To say it's OK to have invalid code is dangerous and not helpful to anyone trying to learn web programming. Sometimes invalid code works. You can also take a rock and bounce it off the ground and say it works but you'd never call it a basketball.

jkd
12-03-2005, 05:24 PM
I'm not saying having invalid code is a good thing. (Though there is certainly a lot more to a good site than having validated code -- try validating google.com for example.) But insulting new members because they don't know any better, and forcing them to do things which might not fix their problems before you even consider helping them is just malicious, in my opinion.

The nature of C++/Assembly is entirely different from the nature of SGML parsing, in that one has been implemented with forgiveness in parsing in mind.

KevinG
12-03-2005, 09:16 PM
thats nice to know jkd.

in a recent post i asked for feedback on my first non table css layout website and i was told to get validated first and given a link to 'we won't help you until you help you' (or something). then someone said i should test in firefox. then slowly but surely i figured the rest out for myself.

i think most people here just need pointing in the right direction.

cf = everyone helps everyone

drhowarddrfine
12-03-2005, 10:38 PM
insulting new members because they don't know any better, and forcing them to do things which might not fix their problems before you even consider helping them is just malicious, in my opinion.Are you saying I insulted someone? Show me where.
Force them to do things that might not fix their problem? But we are to show people how to fix their problem and wade among a pile of errors to do so? I think it better for them to fix their pile of errors first which just might fix their problem.
Since when is showing someone good programming practice considered malicious? If anything, you would be doing them a dis-service by not telling them to validate. There are many on these boards who don't even know the validator exists!

jkd
12-04-2005, 01:20 AM
If anything, you would be doing them a dis-service by not telling them to validate. There are many on these boards who don't even know the validator exists!

Of course that would be a disservice. Validation is a Good Thing, and showing them the One True Way is a good step in the right direction. But, simply leaving it at that is more of a disservice to the new member than putting some time and effort into providing assistance, instead of a link with a cryptic red error box and messages which don't make sense to people without prior experience.

I'm just saying, we should be more welcoming to new users and less adamant about forcing them to do something that they probably don't even understand the importance of yet. Tell them about it, yes, encourage it, yes, but it is much much more important to actually welcome new members and not scare them off with heavy-handed talk of w3c.

rmedek
12-04-2005, 02:36 AM
So I built a shed in my backyard the other day, but for the life of me I couldn't get the paint to cover the wood grain completely.

I asked my buddy, a contractor, what the problem might be. He says, "Oh, this building isn't up to code at all. The foundation's built wrong, there needs to be at least 6" of air space between this insulation and the retaining wall, and why is this load bearing wall in this location?"

"Oh, I say, I'll get to those problems but I really want some help with this pai..."

"Yes, the paint issue you're having is too hard to figure out right now. Tear down this shed and rebuild it to code, and the paint will probably work just fine."

So I did, and whaddya know, the paint still isn't covering anything properly. So I asked another buddy of mine, a successful builder with a calmer disposition.

"Ah, you probably just need a coat of heavy primer first."

So on goes the primer and away goes my paint issue.

Hope you like the allegory. :D

drhowarddrfine
12-04-2005, 03:01 AM
Good. I'm glad that we agree. Validate your code and get rid of your errors.

rmedek, and that contractor saved you the aggravation of painting that shed then having it fall down on you after you finished. Think of all the time you wasted painting it fall apart on you.

firepages
12-04-2005, 03:16 AM
I am a C/C++/assembly programmer. I'm not allowed any errors in my code because the compiler won't produce an executable file with one.
You can still write bad/pointless/buggy/insecure code that compiles, even with invalid markup the root of the problem is seldom that (in html). Luckily, since HTML is not a compiled language (if it even is a `language`) thats moot.


As we move forward toward xhtml/xml on the web, you will not be allowed errors there either.

I suspect that day is a long way away , it would be suicide for any current browser to not display invalid code....

How much of the web validates ? I guess someone has that statistic , but if its greater than 5% I will be amazed , none of the big sites validate , google,yahoo,MS,ebay etc , its simply not the driving issue to the majority of developers whilst to some here it is more important than anything, the answer lies somewhere inbetween.

..........................................

I really only posted to applaud JKD for bringing this up, its a major annoyance of mine to see noobs ignored with a link to the validator, about as much use as RTFM.

rmedeck , good example... though not sure I want to be in your shed during a storm ;)

drhowarddrfine , I dont think this is all pointed at anyone in particular, this is a recurring issue as CF and has been brought up several times before.

harlequin2k5
12-04-2005, 05:14 AM
I have found that since I joined this forum there are many many many "newbies" that throw a question on a board and expect an answer within minutes and haven't bothered to read a book, or read through previous threads that may cover the same topic, or just want someone else to do their work

I have found that many "newbies" are not exhausting every option of error control - they put their html/head/body tags and expect for their page to work

I have found that many "newbies" attempt to experiment with new types of code (I myself am guilty of this) whether its javascript or css or coldfusion - sometimes their stuck to a task because no one else was willing to do it

When I first go into this forum I read the "sticky"s in each of the subjects I was interested in to make sure I understood what the rules of the forum are and how to pose questions, etc.

I have never taken a computer class on any subject (I do however have a couple of thousand bucks worth of books and that many more hours learning by trial and error), but I like to think that the few things I know I know very well and that's because I take the time to try to understand my task at hand and if the task is something completely new I buy a book, try their examples and then attempt to implement what they've taught for my needs. I study all different types of websites and look at their code and see whether it's something I want to try.

I never want anyone to do my work for me because I want the credit for myself (selfish ain't it?).

While I agree with drhowarddrfine that it's very important that forum users exhaust every error control possible and make an attempt to learn what their problem is first, I think it's just as important to advise users in a way that empowers them to do just that.

As I stated just a moment ago, not everyone who is building a website or web application is knowledgeable in html or any of the more intricate languages that make up an application and to just throw them to a validation site doesn't help them to understand how to correct the errors that have just been shown to them.

Those are my 2 cents. I know I appreciate every little piece of help and I've had the validation thing thrown at me and I've found that that particular piece of advice was absolutely invaluable and in the "nominate a helpful member" thread I hope I made it quite clear that those who have helped me have empowered me to find my own answers and I'm a better coder and designer for it.

Would it be at all possible to have a new user group for real newbies and those stuck at a task that they're not educated in? Then in the groups where it's assumed you're no longer a newbie the validation can be thrown up - afterall they would not be considered newbies and should know better.

rmedek
12-04-2005, 06:15 AM
rmedek, and that contractor saved you the aggravation of painting that shed then having it fall down on you after you finished. Think of all the time you wasted painting it fall apart on you.

Look, I'm not saying validation is unimportant. Anyone who's worked with me in a web-related context knows I'm nuts about clean, valid code. Validation is very important; as a matter of fact, a few searches here will show that I've made some pretty passionate arguments about just that.

What I am saying, though, is that sometimes there's a helpful way to post and a rude way to post. A lot of visitors to this forum are new to the game, and have no idea what validation is. There's a nicer way to bring up the validation issue:


“It seems your problem might be this. This code acts this way, you're doing this wrong, try this instead.

By the way, your code doesn't validate at all. This is probably going to cause problems later, so you'll want to take a look at that before you wrap this project up.”

See? Not so hard at all. Much better than “Validate your code before I even think about youuueeaaaaarrrrgh.” Why even bother posting in that case? You're not helping anyone in that case…in fact, it only makes it seem as if more experienced coders are rude and uppity—the fact that most people here are the contrary is why I've stuck around here for so long.

A few things: I'm not saying there's no room to be a little rude sometimes. :D Lord knows I've been quite sarcastic when dealing with someone who never bothers to read the FAQs, stickies, previous posts, rules, etc. Also, I'm using “the Royal ‘you’” (as the Dude would say) in this little mini-rant—I'm not referring to anyone in particular.

To paraphrase the Dude once more, it's not about being wrong, it's about not being an a$@hole. :)

oracleguy
12-04-2005, 07:17 AM
You can still write bad/pointless/buggy/insecure code that compiles
For sure that is the case, you can still have logic errors in your C++ program and it will compile just fine but when you try to run it, it is gonna malfunction.

HTML is sorta the same way except you obviously don't need the syntax perfect and usually the problem is more of a logic error (so to speak) like you need to adjust this CSS property here or wrap these elements in a div, etc. But of course if you are having trouble locking down where the problem is coming from, validating the code is always a good idea because at least then you can rule out bad syntax as the source of the problem.

I'm not saying everything has to validate, it certainly should if it could but some times that just doesn't happen. I've written plenty of slightly invalid HTML/XHTML pages in my professional web development career. It usually happens when I'm pressed for time or something is broken and has to be fixed like yesterday, as long as it works, that is what counts (well, not really but more or less).

Bill Posters
12-04-2005, 09:56 AM
“It seems your problem might be this. This code acts this way, you're doing this wrong, try this instead.

By the way, your code doesn't validate at all. This is probably going to cause problems later, so you'll want to take a look at that before you wrap this project up.”
Treating validation as an afterthought can lead to problems in itself.
The sooner on in a project you get (and keep) your code valid, the more stable you make the foundation for everything you build upon it. This is especially true if you plan to address validation towards the close of a build.
By only addressing validation at the end of a build, you risk having further problems appear as the state and structure of your markup changes in ways that seem minor to you, but significant to the UA.
By leaving validation till the end, you are potentially storing up problems for a point in the project when you simply don't have time or the budget to address them.
If you are of the view that addressing validation is worthwhile advice, then it's advice that would be better suited to early on in a build - e.g. 'take a look at that before you do anything else'.

The DiveIntoMark article sums it up perfectly.

I'm certainly guilty of directing newbies towards the validator, though I usually try to be a bit more descriptive than simply posting a link and a sigh.
That said, posting just that is preferable to having no-one respond at all to a newbie's query. Even just a link and a sigh is constructive.
In future cases where I might request an OP gets their markup up to spec before I consider freely devoting any more of my time to solving the problems of a stranger, I might also start posting a link to the DiveIntoMark article.

There are so many books and online articles available now which can usher newcomers into good practices. It is so often the case that a newcomers posts a query which demonstrates that they've not read a single one.
I simply question that we should surpress our frustration and be all smiles and 'customer service' when a newcomers seemingly has done very little to help themselves.
Let's not forget that even someone who posts a link to the validator and a sigh is giving up their time to point an OP in the right direction, presumably because they also feel that it's preferable to help a newcomer develop good working practices for their own sake as well as that of the industry and the web in general.
If being 'cryptic' makes some newcomers withdraw, then imho that's not entirely a negative outcome. The web development industry is already over-supplied with authors who are either unable or unwilling to demonstrate the ability to think for themselves and unwilling to work out the usefullness of every piece of advice they are given. I personally don't think we need to be condoning a lack of initiative amongst newcomers, particularly when every piece of advice posted on this forum (and other similar forums) is done so purely out of the benevolence and good will of those who posted it.


'God helps those who helps themselves'. Even as a devout atheist, that sounds like an attitude which I can get behind. ;)

rmedek
12-04-2005, 10:34 AM
Treating validation as an afterthought can lead to problems in itself…By leaving validation till the end, you are potentially storing up problems for a point in the project when you simply don't have time or the budget to address them.
Yes, you're right. The professional web designer should not treat valid code as an afterthought. But we are not talking about professional web designers, we are talking about people who are new to web design.


That said, posting just that is preferable to having no-one respond at all to a newbie's query. Even just a link and a sigh is constructive.
Yes, it's constructive, and also annoying. You wouldn't volunteer to answer someone's question with a “link and a sigh” face-to-face, in person, would you? Why would you do it on a forum?


Let's not forget that even someone who posts a link to the validator and a sigh is giving up their time to point an OP in the right direction, presumably because they also feel that it's preferable to help a newcomer develop good working practices for their own sake as well as that of the industry and the web in general.
So, errr…the guy who wanted his div looking right in his MySpace account was representative of the industry and the web in general? Come on, man…that's like me saying all “weekend warrior” musicians must practice six hours a day because otherwise they're ruining the music industry.

Maybe you forgot this one small thing…the web is popular today because damn near everyone can participate. My Grandma can get her personal AOL page online from her Web TV in minutes. Third graders are coding pages for their elementary school. Everyone and their mom has a MySpace account and a blog on the side. That's a primary reason why HTML has remained so forgiving. I know this is shocking to the web “purists” out there, but some people actually do code websites for an audience of ten close friends using Internet Explorer, and could care less if anyone else could read it. And more power to them.

I learned HTML years ago from htmlgoodies.com. It had chapters on the <font> tag, table layout, and the benefits of not including a doctype. The web was fun, and I was interested, and that's how I learned. My first post here was for help with some Dynamic Drive script, and I know damn well nothing on my page validated, although of course back then I didn't know what validation was. No one was rude to me or pushed my weakness in my face.

As I learned more and found myself doing this semi-professionally, I took the time to learn about the proper way to design and mark up my pages. As a professional, I believe it's absolutely necessary to produce valid, semantic, clean markup. As a hobbyist I could care less.

So again, it boils down to two things: not everyone who touches a computer is “in the industry,” and this isn't about being right or wrong, it's about not being an asshole to those who don't know better.

drhowarddrfine
12-04-2005, 03:09 PM
it would be suicide for any current browser to not display invalid code....The W3C has already stated xhtml replaces html. Since xhtml is xml, invalid code is not allowed.


How much of the web validates ?Doesn't matter. The web is in its infancy. Only about 10 years old. It will get better just like programs for the first Windows computers got better. Can you imagine trying to sell programs like they were when Win first came out?!

harlequin understands. One thing I will say about stickies is that I frequently forget they are there or overlook them. I'm sure many a frustrated poster overlooks them, too.

Bill has got it right.


As a hobbyist I could care less.And there the problem lies. How can you have an international network run well when the hobbyists don't care what they put on a page or anything else? The 'net is a professional operation and by not abiding by the standards set forth you are looking into total chaos. Right now I am coding a program that uses sockets and acting like a web server, a complicated precise method. Can you imagine a hobbyist throwing tons of incorrect data on the 'net because he didn't care about errors? And then complaining because his data can't be read by other computers or browsers?

It's not like there aren't a set of rules to follow to do all this. The rules are published and freely available on the 'net and in books. So follow the rules! Why should it not be expected that everyone follow the rules?

Bill Posters
12-04-2005, 04:37 PM
Yes, you're right. The professional web designer should not treat valid code as an afterthought. But we are not talking about professional web designers, we are talking about people who are new to web design.
Fwiw, we're talking about people who have shown enough interest in getting web development 'right' that they've tracked down and registered on a web dev forum. For me, that shows enough interest for them to be let in on the more 'professional' ways of dealing with web dev.
If a person intends to validate their site, it doesn't matter whether they're new or a veteran. It's in their own interest to introduce validity as early as possible for the reasons already mentioned.

Short of asking whether an OP their intentions regarding their site and their skills, it's not always a simple matter to discern whether we're talking to someone for whom web design will only ever be a hobby or someone who is at the start of developing their interest into something which interests them as a career.
While the possibility exists that they may be the latter, it's in their interest to learn certain lessons as early on as possible.


Yes, it's constructive, and also annoying. You wouldn't volunteer to answer someone's question with a “link and a sigh” face-to-face, in person, would you? Why would you do it on a forum?
I might do if there was a constant stream of newbies who'd apparently rather lean on the generosity of others rather than pick up and read a book.



Maybe you forgot this one small thing…the web is popular today because damn near everyone can participate. My Grandma can get her personal AOL page online from her Web TV in minutes. Third graders are coding pages for their elementary school. Everyone and their mom has a MySpace account and a blog on the side. That's a primary reason why HTML has remained so forgiving. I know this is shocking to the web “purists” out there, but some people actually do code websites for an audience of ten close friends using Internet Explorer, and could care less if anyone else could read it. And more power to them.

...

As a hobbyist I could care less
I absolutely agree. But the moment they take what they do seriously enough to stump up to a dedicated web development forum and ask for advice - that's the moment I start expecting more from them.
I doubt we'll see your gran posting asking why her auto-build site looks fine in IE, but looks crap in...
Point being, if you couldn't care less. Don't ask.


So again, it boils down to two things: not everyone who touches a computer is “in the industry,” and this isn't about being right or wrong, it's about not being an asshole to those who don't know better.
I certainly don't see advising less experienced developers (who have shown enough interest to sign up to a web dev forum) to start by getting their code up to spec as being inately arsehole-like.
That advice is worthwhile advice to someone who doesn't know better but has demonstrated that they want to know better.

Fwiw, you're unlikely to find me spending my time posting anything for the sake of a member's personal blog about their love of broccoli (or something similarly inconsequential). The vast majority of the sites I contribute advice on have the appearance of wanting to be something more substantial and dare I say - professional. And there's the rub.

KevinG
12-04-2005, 06:18 PM
FORGET NWA

WELCOME TO CWA

Lets all be cool

People come here for help, advice and tips. Not riddles and puzzles. i don't see the point of answering a question with a question if you know the answer.



(I put this up for laugh - www.charityswearbox.com - you need volume)

jkd
12-04-2005, 09:16 PM
The W3C has already stated xhtml replaces html. Since xhtml is xml, invalid code is not allowed.

Just a technical point, valid means that it follows a structure set out by a DTD or Schema or Relax NG document (or some other language designed for this). Well-formed means that all markup is properly opened and closed, attributes are properly quoted, etc. XML never needs to be validated. This includes XHTML (as you can certainly use XHTML in other host documents, such as Jabber messages or RSS content). It does, however, need to be well-formed. A very important distinction.

firepages
12-05-2005, 01:39 AM
Right now I am coding a program that uses sockets and acting like a web server, a complicated precise method.

& I am making toast with Strawberry Jam , not complex but precision delivers the perfect toasted Jam buttie.... and thats about as relevant

I have made several socket servers for custom protocols and have been incredibly anal about validation of incoming data for good reason, but this is a world away from web browsers which have to contend with code that is 5+ years old , FONT's and BLINKS galore.

The web is for everyone, not an elite few uber-coders, as long as someone elses code does not mess with mine then I could care less.

The web became what it is because anyone could grab notepad or ed and slap up a web page without the need for complex software , leet skills or even MS & long may that continue.

Standards are good , dictators are not.

drhowarddrfine
12-05-2005, 04:52 AM
I am making toast with Strawberry Jam , not complex but precision delivers the perfect toasted Jam buttie.... and thats about as relevantYou totally missed the point of saying that.

Standards are good , dictators are not.
...anyone could grab notepad or ed and slap up a web page without the need for complex software , leet skills or even MS & long may that continue.You are contradicating yourself. You can't have standards but allow pages to be "slapped together".

rmedek
12-05-2005, 06:24 AM
You can't have standards but allow pages to be "slapped together".
Why does a strictly personal site—aimed for a small audience, built by my grandma, and coded with AOL—need to follow web standards?

Let me guess, if a little girl showed you her Crayola drawing of a house, you would say the shading needs improvement and the colors aren't realistic, right?

I don't understand why some of you think everything published on the web has to follow professional industry standards.

drhowarddrfine
12-05-2005, 02:58 PM
If you are trying to interact with others on the 'net you have to follow a certain set of guidelines. Even the simplest web page follows parts of the standard. If you don't follow the most rudimentary parts of the standard then your page won't display. You don't have to code to standards but don't come crying on these forums when you don't and you can't get your page to work.

gsnedders
12-05-2005, 03:12 PM
Over the past 20 years, the computer industry haven't been able to standardise a linebreak (Windows has \n\r, Mac OS has \r, *nix has \n).

Surely we should be grateful we have standards, even if not everyone complies with them?

ronaldb66
12-05-2005, 03:58 PM
To refer to Richards allegory:

In my view, the correct response would be:

"You need a coat of primer to help that paint stick on your wood. By the way, you're adviced to check your shed against the building codes, because it looks like it might fall down in a hurricane. Or storm. Or a light breeze."

Then, there are markup errors that simply make it impossible for a page to be rendered predictably: pointing those out, and leaving the not-so-important ones to the discretion of the advice requester seems like a pragmatic way to handle.

drhowarddrfine
12-05-2005, 04:12 PM
To refer to Richards allegory:
We could go on and on like that. You could say, if you touch a brush to that building it could fall over. Fix the building then I'll tell you how to paint it. Or, I'm not going to waste my time teaching you how to build cabinets for the inside because the building won't support it and it'll fall over. Fix the building then I'll teach you how. It might sound nastier but it's the truth.

NancyJ
12-05-2005, 04:40 PM
But we are to show people how to fix their problem and wade among a pile of errors to do so?
participation is not compulsory. Surely the only reason any of us should be responding to posts is because we want *and think we can* help people. Merely posting 'validate your code' is not helping anyone, if thats all you can say then just move on to a different post and leave it for someone who might actually be interested in helping.

Bill Posters
12-05-2005, 05:28 PM
participation is not compulsory. Surely the only reason any of us should be responding to posts is because we want *and think we can* help people. Merely posting 'validate your code' is not helping anyone, if thats all you can say then just move on to a different post and leave it for someone who might actually be interested in helping.

I can appreciate some members' eagerness to help, but by telling a newcomer only what they need to know to fix the problem under their nose, you're possibly just storing up problems for them for later.
If I thought I could help a newcomer a one particular problem and that would be the end of it, I would. Problem is, when you only help them fix the problems (or the symptoms of the problems) about which they're asking, then there's a good chance that they'll be back asking more questions about more problems about issues that might possibly have been avoided had they been urged to get their code valid before they move on.

I like to offer my help as and when I can. But I'd rather those asking for help became aware of the value of using valid code as a basis to build a site upon, rather than spend my time helping them paper over the cracks.

I see ushering newcomers (how are concerned enough to join a web dev forum) towards validation as a form of 'a stitch in time, saves nine' and all that malarkey.


Still, each to their own. If it makes you happy, paper away. ;)


As you say, participation isn't compulsory, but the fact that someone even bothered to post mentioning validation, imho, demonstrates that the person responding cares enough about the quality of code making it onto t'interweb to make a constructive, albeit gruff, post.

Perhaps it's a form of ill-mannered samaritan complex. ;)

TheShaner
12-05-2005, 06:01 PM
Ok, this is really going back and forth here. Both sides definitely have very good points. I think the middle ground is the way to go with this. Going back to rmedek's shack allegory, hehe, I think a correct response would be:

In order to get the paint on the wood, you would need to first use a heavy primer. However, I would not advise this because your shack has not been built to code. Its foundation is very shaky, which will cause more problems in the future, which will then cause you to have to come back here with more questions on correcting your shack and possibly having to repaint. Rebuild it correctly and then apply the heavy primer for the paint, paint your shack, and then you'll have your an enduring shack!
This kind of response will give the newcomer the solution to the problem while also emphasizing the fact that they need to validate their code first before applying the fix. Another example would be if the shack was leaning to one side (the problem has to do with validation). The best response would be:

I believe that your shack is leaning to one side because your foundation has not been built correctly according to code. If you validate your shed with the building codes, you'll see that you have not leveled the foundation first. When you level the foundation first you will then be able to add the cement base for the shack to sit upright. Also fix any other problems that are not following the code and this will ensure a level shack and make it easier to correct any other problems in the future.
With the above, I could've easily sighed and slapped a code book on the table and walked out. I think this topic is really just leading towards: be more informative and polite. If you can't give a response like that, then don't reply! Allow someone who doesn't have something stuck up their *** to help them, lol (no offense to anyone... this wasn't directed at anyone particular).

-Shane

rmedek
12-05-2005, 06:47 PM
With the above, I could've easily sighed and slapped a code book on the table and walked out. I think this topic is really just leading towards: be more informative and polite. If you can't give a response like that, then don't reply! Allow someone who doesn't have something stuck up their *** to help them, lol.

Finally, someone gets my point! :D

Bill Posters
12-05-2005, 06:57 PM
Finally, someone gets my point! :D

Should've stuck to your core point then, instead of letting yer granny confuse the issue. ;)

drhowarddrfine
12-05-2005, 07:28 PM
There's a guy on another board that ranted at me, actually three of us, who told him his code was invalid and causing his problems. He never validated or tried to fix his errors but, instead, just plugged in possible solutions offered by those who offered. Interesting to note that those who helped had low post counts.

His page got better over time as his error count dropped from about 75 to 20 but it still has problems and he refuses to validate. After three or four months of working on it, it still does not work.

TheShaner
12-05-2005, 07:56 PM
There's a guy on another board that ranted at me, actually three of us, who told him his code was invalid and causing his problems. He never validated or tried to fix his errors but, instead, just plugged in possible solutions offered by those who offered. Interesting to note that those who helped had low post counts.

His page got better over time as his error count dropped from about 75 to 20 but it still has problems and he refuses to validate. After three or four months of working on it, it still does not work.
I fail to follow the moral to this tale. Those with low post counts are more helpful? Those with low post counts are noobs in web design? You can lower your errors by 73% by plugging in possible solutions from low post count forum members? You can't get a website working in 3 or 4 months with the help of low post count forum members? You will be ranted at if you have a high post count?

Ok, the above isn't serious of course, but I really don't see the validity of that post (pun intended :p). If you told the person that they need to validate, offered an informative explanation about what was causing the problem, and hey, maybe a quick fix for it but with a warning that they'll still have problems if they don't validate, then you did all you needed to do. If the guy is going to continue to rant, not update his code, and post more questions, than don't reply. It's that simple. If others want to continue helping him, then let them. He's only hurting himself. It's not like his invalid and inoperatable website is going to blow up the internet, lol.

Like I said in my previous post, it's just about being informative and polite. If you can't do that, then that's alright. Just don't post to that thread. We'll still remember you for helpful member awards if you miss a reply or two in a thread that angered you, lol.

-Shane

drhowarddrfine
12-05-2005, 09:20 PM
...told him his code was invalid and causing his problems.
...still has problems and he refuses to validate. After three or four months...it still doesn't work.Do you follow it now?

TheShaner
12-05-2005, 10:12 PM
Do you follow it now?
Oh, I knew where you were going with it ;) That's why the first line of the 2nd paragraph said that I wasn't being serious with those questions. I questioned the "validity" of that post. It made no progression in the purpose of this debate and just said what was said at the beginning; not to mention the fact that instead of saying what you quoted, you decided to add in quite a bit extra that convoluted your point. It also seemed you took a stab at people with low post counts, as if they didn't know the rules - "don't help people until they validate" - or that they are web design "noobs".

Anyway, I didn't see the reason for that story. It has been established (over and over by now) that validating code will fix problems. I know that. You know that. We all know that. The point being made here is to be more informative and less brash with the newcomers. I 100% believe in making it a point to tell them that they should validate their code. However, there's a nice way of doing it. I posted all this in my 1st post to this topic, so I'm not going to reiterate anymore of these points.

-Shane

rmedek
12-05-2005, 10:41 PM
Should've stuck to your core point then, instead of letting yer granny confuse the issue. ;)

My granny has everything to do with this. You're missing what I, Ronald, Nancy, Jason, Shane, etc., are all saying: that of course validation is good but it's not a one-size-fits-all solution and there's no reason to be rude to noobs who don't know what validation is.

The point with my grandma is that if she posted on this forum asking how to make her background blue, I wouldn't rub validation in her face because her site is obviously not coded to a mass audience or built by a web professional following industry standards.

NancyJ
12-06-2005, 08:17 AM
I see this very often in the site reviews forum. When people post there they're mostly looking for design and usability reviews. There are some sites that were obviously built by web design noobs. They dont care whether the site validated or not, they're not web professionals they're just building a little site for their local <insert type> club. They want to know if it looks good but instead they get posts that just say 'your code doesnt validate'. Well no it doesnt, but you can tell by looking at the site that they dont care, they just want something that looks good for the handful of people that might visit it.
Theres nothing wrong with politely informing someone that validation *might* fix their problem as long as you can offer some other insight as well. Valid code is not the be all and end all of web problems. The fact of the matter is that validation will only solve a tiny percentage of the problems posted here.

Bill Posters
12-06-2005, 09:03 AM
My granny has everything to do with this. You're missing what I, Ronald, Nancy, Jason, Shane, etc., are all saying: that of course validation is good but it's not a one-size-fits-all solution and there's no reason to be rude to noobs who don't know what validation is.

The point with my grandma is that if she posted on this forum asking how to make her background blue, I wouldn't rub validation in her face because her site is obviously not coded to a mass audience or built by a web professional following industry standards.
I'm not missing any point at all. I think you are taking the pro-validation pov out of context.

I doubt there are many experienced members here who wouldn't chime in with some CSS for such a simple task even if Granny Medek's code wasn't up to spec.
The issue about validation more often rears its head when someone asks how to fix something more complex such as a 'broken layout' and it means that anyone responding has to sift through line after line of potentially horrendous markup just to locate the root of the problem - and that's before they've even started constructing a solution. Sometimes, even just locating the root of the problem means testing various possibilities.
'How do I get a blue background?' is a different kettle of fish to 'How do I fix my layout?'.
The root of a layout/js/css problem could be anywhere in their code and, as the DiveIntoMike (DiM) article mentions, few people have the time, energy or saintliness to devote 5-15 minutes out of their day to debugging someone else's site - for free.

Like I say, it's extremely unlikely that a member is going to post 'validate your code!' :sigh: to Granny Medek when all she wants is to turn her background blue. That said, if the correct method is posted and it doesn't appear to work, then don't be surprised if she's then urged to fix her surrounding code.

You might find it frustrating that a small number of experienced members are rude to newbies. I'm sure we all have something that frustrates us about these kinds of forum sometimes.

_Aerospace_Eng_
12-08-2005, 05:32 AM
I found this interesting article (http://www.mikeindustries.com/blog/archive/2004/06/march-to-your-own-standard) that talks about how validation isn't the most important things to judge designers by, interesting read.

Bill Posters
12-08-2005, 08:44 AM
I found this interesting article (http://www.mikeindustries.com/blog/archive/2004/06/march-to-your-own-standard) that talks about how validation isn't the most important things to judge designers by, interesting read.

Every now and again, I'll come across an article written by one of supposed 'the great and the good' and I'll find myself flatly disagreeing with their view. This was one of them. (Another was Hixie's article about how 'serving XHTML as text/html [is] considered harmful'.)

I read that a while back and found many of the comments to be more insightful than the article itself.
There's nothing big or clever about going out of your way to invalidate your code. It's petulent and childish and has all the high-mindedness of a sixth-form 'radical'.

Mike Davidson normally makes for a decent read and usually has some informative and entertaining points to make, but I found myself losing respect for his views as a result of this article (not that he'll be losing any sleep over that). I'm pro-standards, but not rabidly so, but I really don't think that this article has helped to inform the debate or improve the situation in any useful way.

drhowarddrfine
12-08-2005, 02:31 PM
The article is a little twisted because it sounds like he's against validating but, in his comments he says "the invalidation badge is somewhat tongue-in-cheek". He's talking about one line of code that isn't valid which he intentionally includes on his page. However, if you piece together what he's really saying you get this:

"By invalidating my entire site with this one line of code, I ensure that I am made aware the instant it matters. It’s kind of like carrying a canary down a mine shaft with you. As long as the canary is alive and chirping, you know you’re okay for air."

The really important stuff is here:

"If we pick standards that nobody else practices or recognizes, the benefit of the standard is limited to our own little world. Who can we look to for guidance? First we look to the W3C. We look to them because their very charge is to help us and their existence is for our benefit. They are not owned by Microsoft and they are not paid by the NRA. W3C specifications are usually (but not always) detailed and well-thought out.

They’ve merely learned the building blocks of deploying 0’s and 1’s on the web. That may sound insignificant, but it’s not. It’s more than 99% of the world knows, and probably a good amount of the entire code-writing profession.

Think of validation as using picture perfect grammar; it helps you get your ideas across and is a sign of a good education,

Running your Olsen Twins Fan Club site out of the broom closet is not going to teach you anything about the collaborative environment of electronic publishing.

Standards exist for the benefit of the web worker almost more so than the end user, and by following the best practices set forth by the best people in our industry, we ensure we are equipping ourselves with a versatile skillset which we can take into any environment.

Standards, on the other hand, exist so that we can use the minimal amount of labor and energy to create the greatest impact possible.

Validation, right now, is most useful as a tool to help you debug your own stuff. "

mlseim
12-08-2005, 04:46 PM
I started a thread like this a while ago:
http://www.codingforums.com/showthread.php?t=37395

You really know you're onto something when this same topic continues
to stir-up emotions over and over again. It must be important, or there
wouldn't be so many posts.

The internet will soon become an integral part of our lives, and eventually,
we won't even think about it ... much like the interstate highway system
in the U.S. ... we use it every day and never think about it or discuss it.
When it runs good, we're happy, when it fails, we complain.

In my opinion, the next five years will the the turning-point for the internet.
Style Sheets, format switching (for multiple networked products, handhelds,
phones, accessibility) will be commonplace. Any single webpage will be
viewable on any media because of XML, and because of validation.

I'll point back to this post in December 2010 ... from some wireless device
I have attached to my body. I hope I can view the site properly.



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