Web standards elitism

In Oh that elitist smell, Molly Holzschlag writes about the perceived elitism of web standards advocates like the W3C, the WaSP, and the A-list bloggers.

I have to say that I don't see the elitism. Sure, you can probably define "elitism" in different ways, but I haven't had any reason to believe that anybody belonging to either of those groups feel that they are "elite". I could be wrong -- I don't know any W3C members, WaSP members or A-listers personally.

However, I think there are a couple of things that can make some people feel like these groups aren't living and working in "the real world":

  • Documentation. The W3C specifications and recommendations can be really difficult for a web developer to read and understand. Considering that those documents are aimed more at browser developers than at web developers, this isn't too surprising.

    I believe that rewriting a set of documents (the HTML, XHTML and CSS specifications come to mind) to make them aimed specifically at web designers and developers would improve the W3C's image among those groups. Maybe something like HTML Dog, but officially sanctioned and hosted by the W3C.

  • The "Anybody can build a website"-mentality. Somehow this has become a widespread belief. Well, I have news for you. Building good websites is hard. It is not something anybody can do well without spending plenty of time (years, I'd say) working on their skills. And you never know everything. You constantly have to learn new techniques and technologies. Some people don't want to spend all the time and energy that is necessary. Does that make the W3C, the WaSP or A-listers elitist? No. It just means that someone expecting to learn all there is to learn about web development in a week will be disappointed.

So, personally I don't see the elitism. That doesn't change the fact that there are others who do. Hopefully Molly's post will bring out some good ideas on how to fix that problem.

Posted on November 7, 2004 in Web Standards