ABC News: All That Glitters
Web Standards Project member Ethan Marcotte comments on the recently redesigned ABC News website, noting (among other things) that unencoded ampersands are not as harmless as many would like them to be.
D. Keith Robinson also noted this WaSP Buzz, and I left a comment over at Asterisk, which I'll repeat here.
Yes, moving towards web standards, even without achieving 100% validation, is great. Much, much better than sticking with tag soup. And getting it all right, all at once, on a site that huge, is all but impossible. Great job, Mike!
That said, if you decide to shrug your shoulders at unencoded ampersands, just be aware that they may cause real world problems. It’s not very common, but it does happen.
And no, I'm not a validation junkie, even though I always try hard to make sure any sites I build are valid (until they leave my hands, at which point it may be difficult to maintain validation for reasons beyond my control). I'm just pointing out that encoding ampersands is better than not encoding them, and that not doing so could cause you problems.
The bottom line is this: if it is within your power to make sure ampersands are encoded, do it. If you are not allowed to touch them, you may do well to let whoever is responsible know about the potential problems, and hope all goes well.