Sheep with lambs

My web browser might not support web standards, but I don't give a fuck

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The following message appears on numerous web sites, especially those written by people who know enough about the Internet to realise that there exist browsers other than the one that they use, but are self-important enough to think that others really care about their 'leet web design skillz. (Often, this set of people seems to be coterminous with the web log crowd.)

This site will look much better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.

Let's rewrite this, with a bit of added honesty. What it really means is,

This web page will look the way I want it to, not the way you find most convenient, if you download a bigger, buggier browser. You can probably extract the information with the crappy browser which you've chosen to use, but, let's be honest, the fact that I find the need to add this silly message to the top of my page probably indicates that most of it's just padding anyway.

And what, we might ask, are these precious web standards with which we are being encouraged to comply? Well, it turns out, it's fucking CSS and fucking JavaScript. CSS, a gigantic hairy ball of crap which was originally intended to allow browser users and web page authors to specify conflicting ideas of how they wanted things to appear, but which has now mutated into a glorious mess of object-oriented poo used by Microsoft Word to turn one paragraph documents into 100k HTML pages, and JavaScript, the web's ultimate solution looking for a problem, whose only application is to make all those godawful X10 advertisements which appear on one in five web pages. And, just to remind you, you are being encouraged to obtain this shite just so that Fred `Web Log' Bloggs can impose his attractive choice of fonts (2pt Flyspeck Medium) and courageous colour scheme on his unimportant witterings.

If you care about making your site look like you want to in all sorts of different browsers, go ahead. Waste all the time you want. But don't expect me to change software just so I can see the pretty colours and pointless filler images[1] with which you're polluting the web.

Update: a `use' for JavaScript

... an attempt to prevent email addresses in web pages from being harvested by crawlers used to populate spam lists. The game is that you use JavaScript's \x.. syntax for escaping characters. For instance,

<script language="JavaScript">


<a href="">

I first saw this on Joel Spolsky's web log, Joel on Software. I don't know if he invented the idea.

'Course, this sort of trick won't get you very far. It's just as easy to write a regular expression to match (\\x..)+\\x40(\\x..)+ as it is to write one which will recognise .+@.+. Or to put a JavaScript interpreter into a spam robot. After all, if Microsoft can do it, so can a bulk email weenie.

One of the most striking things which I discovered when I wrote driftnet is that most of the images on the web are pictures of text. (Most of the rest are pictures of naked people, but let's not go there.) Jamie Zawinski, of course, discovered this long before me.

Copyright (c) 2002 Chris Lightfoot. All rights reserved.