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Why Bother?

Why bother with web standards adherence when error handling makes web development Life easy. Or, when Large Sites don’t bother. I’ve written two articles about it: Error Handling in Browsers make Web Standards Difficult and this article which poses How widely tolerated is ill-formedness in existing browsers?. Those were merely observations. However, we have global examples.

I volunteered to perform a survey of the Top Global 200 Alexa Sites for the W3C® HTML Working Group. I have completed one-third.

The Top 200 Alexa-identified sites were collected on June 25, 2007. The survey baselines the quality of each site at the time of the survey. Validation results collection was begun on June 28, 2007 and continues.

Each site reviewed was from the URL identified by Alexa.

At the time of this survey the Alexa ranking and PR identifying numbers were accurate. Google Page Rank (PR) fluctuates.

The following Validation and Conformance services were employed. All settings were default.

  • Web Sniffer - View HTTP Request and Response Header
  • W3C® QA Markup Validation Service
  • (X)HTML5 Conformance Checking Service Technology Preview
  • W3C® CSS Validation Service
  • W3C® Mobile Web Best Practices checker (Beta)
  • HiSoftware® Cynthia Says™ Portal

The notation (f) designates a fatal or draconian error during validation: processing ceased. Each validation service or conformance checker offered different reasons. N/A or Not Applicable notations are explained in the notes.

Caveats: (X)HTML Conformance Checker identifies attributes that are not currently in the HTML 5 specification as an error but ignored. No effort was made to identify actual errors according to the current version of the specification nor conformance checker. Pages declared HTML 4 are given an error by the conformance checker; this error was removed from the error(s) total.

Thus far, these eleven sites represent the global state of large Content Management System sites and Web Standards.

[Note: Pass and Fail boxes have links to the validation services (for error viewing). Excepting Cynthia Says™.]

  1. Yahoo!

    Personalized content and search options. Chatrooms, free e-mail, clubs, and pager.

    www.yahoo.com – Site Info 

    Quality Assurance Results for Yahoo!
    Head Validation PR
    DocType HTTP CharSet (X)HTML HTML5 Other 10
    !DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/strict.dtd" text/html utf-8 Home Secondary Contact Home Secondary Contact CSS WAI Mobile
    Results Fail Fail n/a Fail Fail n/a Pass Fail Fail
    Errors 34 180 n/a 22(f) 9(f) n/a 0 4 3

    [Notes: All secondary pages are sub-domains. Each sub-domain has different HTML/CSS authored by each individual sub-domain team. No Contact Page found.]

  2. Microsoft Network (MSN)

    Dialup access and content provider.

    www.msn.com – Site Info 

    Quality Assurance Results for Microsoft Network (MSN)
    Head Validation PR
    DocType HTTP CharSet (X)HTML HTML5 Other 8
    !DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd" text/html utf-8 Home Secondary Contact Home Secondary Contact CSS WAI Mobile
    Results Pass Pass n/a Fail Fail n/a Pass Fail Fail
    Errors 0 0 n/a 1(f) 1(f) n/a 0 3 22

    [Notes: No Contact page found.]

  3. Google

    Enables users to search the Web, Usenet, and images. Features include PageRank, caching and translation of results, and an option to find similar pages. The company’s focus is developing search technology.

    www.google.com – Site Info 

    Quality Assurance Results for Google
    Head Validation PR
    DocType HTTP CharSet (X)HTML HTML5 Other 10
    None declared text/html utf-8 Home Secondary Contact Home Secondary Contact CSS WAI Mobile
    Results Fail Fail Fail Fail Fail Fail Fail Fail Fail
    Errors 51 33 24 3(f) 2(f) 2(f) 1(f) 3 3

    [Notes: All pages: No Document Type Declaration declared; HTML errors found when attempting validation with HTML 4.01/Transitional; Character Set server-side.]

  4. YouTube

    YouTube is a way to get your videos to the people who matter to you. Upload, tag and share your videos worldwide!

    www.youtube.com – Site Info 

    Quality Assurance Results for YouTube
    Head Validation PR
    DocType HTTP CharSet (X)HTML HTML5 Other 8
    !DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/1999/REC-html401-19991224/loose.dtd" text/html utf-8 Home Secondary Contact Home Secondary Contact CSS WAI Mobile
    Results Fail Fail Fail Fail Fail Fail Fail Fail Fail
    Errors 133 380 23 5(f) 5(f) 15(f) 14 4 1(f)

    [Notes: None]

  5. Windows Live

    Search engine from Microsoft.

    www.live.com – Site Info 

    Quality Assurance Results for Windows Live
    Head Validation PR
    DocType HTTP CharSet (X)HTML HTML5 Other 8
    !DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd" text/html utf-8 Home Secondary Contact Home Secondary Contact CSS WAI Mobile
    Results Fail Fail n/a Fail Fail n/a Fail Fail Fail
    Errors 60 81 n/a 1(f) 1(f) n/a 11 2 17

    [Notes: No Contact page found.]

  6. Myspace

    Social Networking Site.

    www.myspace.com – Site Info 

    Quality Assurance Results for Myspace
    Head Validation PR
    DocType HTTP CharSet (X)HTML HTML5 Other 8
    None declared text/html utf-8 Home Secondary Contact Home Secondary Contact CSS WAI Mobile
    Results Fail Fail Fail Fail Fail Fail Fail Fail Fail
    Errors 204 309 43 23(f) 12(f) 7(f) 16 5 1(f)

    [Notes: No Document Type Declaration declared; HTML errors found when attempting validation with HTML 4.01/Transitional.]

  7. Baidu.com

    The leading Chinese language search engine, provides simple and reliable search experience, strong in Chinese language and multi-media content including MP3 music and movies, the first to offer WAP and PDA-based mobile search in China.

    www.baidu.com – Site Info 

    Quality Assurance Results for Baidu.com
    Head Validation PR
    DocType HTTP CharSet (X)HTML HTML5 Other 7
    None declared text/html gb2312 Home Secondary Contact Home Secondary Contact CSS WAI Mobile
    Results Fail Fail Fail Fail Fail Fail Fail Fail Fail
    Errors 30 8 7 1 229 1 1 4 1(f)

    [Notes: No Document Type Declaration declared; HTML errors found when attempting validation with HTML 4.01/Transitional. The secondary page has HTML 4.01/Transitional declared; the Contact page has no declaration.]

  8. Orkut

    Social networking and discussion site operated by Google.

    www.orkut.com – Site Info 

    Quality Assurance Results for Orkut
    Head Validation PR
    DocType HTTP CharSet (X)HTML HTML5 Other 8
    !DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN" text/html utf-8 Home Secondary Contact Home Secondary Contact CSS WAI Mobile
    Results Fail Fail n/a Fail Fail n/a Fail Fail Fail
    Errors 27 12 n/a 12(f) 12(f) n/a 8 2 1(f)

    [Notes: No Contact page found.]

  9. Wikipedia

    An online collaborative encyclopedia.

    www.wikipedia.org – Site Info 

    Quality Assurance Results for Wikipedia
    Head Validation PR
    DocType HTTP CharSet (X)HTML HTML5 Other 8
    !DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd" text/html utf-8 Home Secondary Contact Home Secondary Contact CSS WAI Mobile
    Results Pass Pass Pass Fail Fail Fail Fail Fail Fail
    Errors 0 0 0 2(f) 1(f) 1(f) 6 1 55

    [Notes: Secondary and Contact pages were XHTML 1.0/Transitional.]

  10. 腾讯网 (http://www.qq.com)

    中国最好的门户资讯网站,QQ.COM,新生活,我主张

    www.qq.com – Site Info 

    Quality Assurance Results for 腾讯网
    Head Validation PR
    DocType HTTP CharSet (X)HTML HTML5 Other 6
    None declared text/html gb2312 Home Secondary Contact Home Secondary Contact CSS WAI Mobile
    Results Fail Fail Fail Fail Fail Fail Fail Fail Fail
    Errors 466 646 27 1(f) 1(f) 1(f) 3(f) 5 1(f)

    [Notes: Contact page is XHTML 1.0/Transitional. Secondary page has <DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" """""""""""http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> .]

  11. Yahoo!カテゴリ

    有料審査制のディレクトリ。ウェブサービスの形でAPIを公開

    www.yahoo.co.jp – Site Info 

    Quality Assurance Results for Yahoo!カテゴリ
    Head Validation PR
    DocType HTTP CharSet (X)HTML HTML5 Other 8
    None declared text/html gb2312 Home Secondary Contact Home Secondary Contact CSS WAI Mobile
    Results Fail Fail n/a Fail Fail n/a Fail Fail Fail
    Errors 437 381 n/a 1(f) 1(f) n/a 6 5 1(f)

    [Notes: All secondary pages are sub-domains. Secondary page has Charset euc-jp. No Contact Page found.]

That was abysmal, was it not.

So.

Why bother? with Web Standards when large corporations cannot be bothered?

Microsoft Network (MSN) had valid (X)HTML and CSS thus far. It seems more imperative that smaller sites meet Web Standards than before. If smaller sites like this and yours do not, who will.


Sean Fraser posted this on July 16, 2007 07:48 PM.

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Comments

Henri Sivonen wrote this at July 23, 2007 12:03 AM

I agree with the general point, but using the (X)HTML5 Conformance Checking Service Technology Preview to make that point is a bit misleading: none of these sites even try to use HTML5 at this point, so it would be quite a surprise if any of them passed the (X)HTML5 check.


Comment Author Gravatar
Sean Fraser wrote this at July 23, 2007 07:32 PM

Henri:

It seems that none of those sites even try to use HTML 4.01. The inclusion of HTML5 was requested in one of the W3C HTML WG threads but I included it for reference as to how far removed sites are from conforming to HTML5. And, since you kindly instituted a new version of (X)HTML5 Conformance Checking Service Technology Preview, one which does not have draconian error handling, it will be interesting to see how those sites fare.

Presently, some sites I tested with the previous version of the Service, would have passed if one disregards errors which are ignored, e.g., “Error: Attribute src not allowed at this point; ignored.”

I'll be surprised when a site passes present-day (X)HTML.


Comment Author Gravatar
Sean Fraser wrote this at July 23, 2007 09:39 PM

CAVEAT:

The (X)HTML5 Conformance Checking Service has been redone. It has removed most Fatal errors; it has included “Warnings”; and, it has clarified some error descriptions: all of which render the above (X)HTML error numbers above useless.


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