Think globally, Act locally


In a global strategy to improve the overall quality of the websites, local communities, city hall, city library, school, university, etc. may be a good first target for punctual evangelism effort.

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This version of this document is obsolete and kept for historical purposes.

This is the August 2002 version, replaced by the July 2003 version. The latest version of this document can always be found at


This article was first sent by Olivier Thereaux as an e-mail message to the mailing-list.

This article has been produced as part of the W3C Quality Assurance Interest Group work. Please send any public feedback on it to the publicly archived mailing list or for a private feedback to

A face-to-face approach to web standards education

It all started when I visited my city's website, and had the pleasant surprise to see the "valid HTML" and "valid CSS" icons there.

The initial enthusiasm quickly lead me to think how pathetic it was to be enthusiast just because, for once, I had found a valid webpage that wasn't owned/written by a geek [note].

Why do geeks validate their webpages? Because they're cool, because they're good and conscientious web citizens. Of course. But certainly they did that because they know someone who has a friend who knows another person that has been at a conference with a speaker who read a book by someone who once heard about the validator, or read an article. Or something like that.

The point is, web geeks do validate because someone convinced them to do so. Of course "web geeks" are easier to convince than "web designers" (sorry if this sounds pejorative), but there are other ways to ease the education work than "good will". Starting with proximity.

It's always easier to convince someone when you can discuss with this person in front of a coffee. Those of us who have tried to explain "why this is the right way" by sending a 'nice, polite, informative e-mail with loads of links to comprehensive resources' know that face-to-face dialog is a more efficient medium for pedagogy than most remote methods.

Think globally, Act locally

The web and the Peter Pan complex

The web has started out of chaos. One of the reasons why the web has had its early success is that the technologies (not named standards at the time) were very loose, basically anyone could throw an HTML-ish page on a server and it would work. Web technologies have matured into web standards, and the web should follow. The web should grow up.

The problem is, the web doesn't want to grow up, because it's not funny becoming an adult when everyone remains a child.

When so few (none?) among the "bigger" sites make a proper use of web technologies, it's not easy convincing people that they should. In other words, if we want to beat the "I don't care about valid HTML (or other web standards), no-one does" logic, we need to find a base of sites that are likely to cooperate, so that we can show them as "good examples".

Finding a proper target

"Public" sites are a good target, for two reasons.

Starting local initiatives

There is space for a nice initiative where volunteers would convince local authorities to improve the quality of their websites, and possibly helping them to do so.

An annex project would be to author a paper with two parts : advice for the "evangelist" (like "be friendly - remember : you're here to help" or "try to find some local data for your argumentation"), and key information for the "people in charge" in public administrations.



The editors want to thank the following people for their contribution:


The term "geek" is used in this document as an affectionate synonym for "computer-savvy individual". No offense intended, the editor and most contributors of this document are themselves "geeks".

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Created Date: 2002-08-12 by Olivier Thereaux
Last modified $Date: 2011/12/16 02:56:59 $ by $Author: gerald $

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