Thursday 23 February 2006
JUST LIKE THE STINK OF A THREE DAY OLD FISH the arguments about standardistas preaching to the choir, being arrogant and generally being long past their due date persist.
In many cases, these arguments are useless and wrong. A good standardista works hard to educate as well as advocate. A fresh standardista understands that the world is filled with a wide range of people of different skill sets, talents and circumstances. A committed standardista understands the reasons the Web standards movement exists.
He or she knows the ideal: We must keep the visionary aspects of the Web intact via interoperability, platform and device independence, global access and accessibility to all. We must also know the history that brought us to the movement and the reasons and benefits as to why Web standards advocacy is critical to the solid growth of the World Wide Web.
But to be fair, there are some rotten standardistas in Web standards land. Fortunately, I don’t know too many of them despite my exposure and as some might point out, that I happen to be a big fish in the standards pond, but I do know they exist.
I’ve identified three primary types of rotten standardistas. Hopefully, this will begin to help us identify and clarify the type of standardista we want to avoid, as well as avoid being.
- The Bitch and Moan but Never Does. This rancid type is akin to those individuals who have the right to vote not voting and then bitching about a current, legitimately voted-in regime. Standardistas who never do can be found ranting about the evils of Microsoft, the fact that CSS can suck, and that XHTML is limited semantically. The rotten standardista leaves it at the rant, unlike the much more savory standardista who might actually share the same feelings. But the unstinky standardista articulates the same upsets to the world in ways that are helpful to others via education, through discussion rather than proselytization, and by means of bridge-building instead of bomb dropping. The smelly Bitch and Moan folk really aren’t forwarding the discussion and largely do not deserve your attention.
- I’m a Fucked Up Human in Need of a Tribe. Okay, so there are some good standardistas who probably fall into this category, myself included. But the fetid standardistas who float into this column are only calling themselves a standards advocate because for some strange reason, it’s perceived by some that being a standardista is cool! This category of nasty is often related to and has many of the habits of the Bitch and Moan type, but often is far more ignorant and couldn’t be bothered to learn enough to bitch in the first place. They also don’t deserve your attention.
- I’m Better than You Because my Site Validates. This breed of stink may be the worst of all. You can identify this type, apart from the particularly sulphur-like smell, because they are just plain mean and arrogant. The Better than You standardista finds it pleasurable to insult people who are struggling with the learning curve despite their willingness to learn; berate those who are misinformed by virtue of circumstance rather than chosen ignorance; and who poke fun at people who make decisions based on environmental issues rather than just following Web standards because they think standards are good. A great example of this would be someone who criticizes those hard working designers and developers who can’t achieve validation because of external circumstances such as CMSs and ad servers. You know the kind. Don’t avoid the I’m Better than You types, call them out because they’re doing a lot of harm.
The Web standards movement is necessary for the positive growth and long-term health of the Web. I only hope that if I ever start getting a bit smelly, someone will have the kindness of heart to take me aside and let me know I need to freshen up, or perhaps find another pond in which to swim.
Until that time, let’s help each other reduce the rank, manage the malodorous, and free the foul by supporting each other in positive, productive and inclusive ways as we wade through these murky, muddy days.