- Why an Issues FAQ?
There are several issues that have been beaten to death on the
HTML Writers Guild mailing list. New subscribers are often
unaware of this and frequently start flame wars over these
issues without realizing how often the ground has been covered in
the past. This FAQ is an attempt to save some bandwidth and make
the Guild mailing list more productive and more pleasant to read.
If you see any posts re-hashing the issues presented below,
ignore them. If you can't ignore them, please respond by private
email--NOT on the list.
- Couldn't we find a better name for the Guild?
Possibly, but the Guild, for good or ill, already has a name. Like the
Teamsters, our name may not perfectly describe what we do but if we
stick with it, people will know who we are--many already do. The
Guild has fairly wide recognition and a favorable image under the
Bickering about the name hurts our reputation and uses up the
valuable time of our members.
- Is Netscape evil or the best thing since sliced bread?
OR - Is Microsoft evil or the best thing since sliced bread?
The Guild agrees to disagree on this. There have been
countless messages on these threads and pretty much everything
that could be said has been said many times over. Here are
the primary points for both sides:
- Netscape/Microsoft has a very popular browser. Exactly how popular
depends on how you measure.
- Netscape/Microsoft has introduced some innovative HTML tags and
attributes that have display some appealing visual effects on their
- Netscape/Microsoft has an excellent user interface and very good
performance. To a great extent these (and the fact that they
distributed their browser as a free program) helped make it so popular.
- Netscape/Microsoft (some say) is so popular that we should consider
their version of HTML to be a standard and use their extensions to make
our pages look better.
- Netscape/Microsoft, by bypassing the HTML standards process and
adding their own HTML tags and attributes, has created harrowing
compatibility problems for some HTML authors and encouraged other
browser writers and HTML authors to ignore the standards as well.
- Some Netscape-specific tags/Microsoft specific tags (e.g. CENTER)
are not very well thought out and are not valid HTML. The valid HTML
centering tag is <P ALIGN="center">. Some browsers do not
recognize CENTER and there is a good chance that those that do now may
not in the future, since it is invalid.
- Using Netscape-specific/Microsoft-specific tags and attributes can
make your pages look bad when viewed with other browsers, especially
text-mode browsers like Lynx which are used by many people who can't
- Netscape/Microsoft (some say) is an evil force created by people
willing to sacrifice HTML standards for money. Unless stopped, they will
make it impossible to produce HTML code with any assurance of how it
will look on various browsers.
- Is HTML a programming language?
No. The main components of a programming language are data
objects and control structures. HTML is a markup language.
- Is HTML a form of desktop publishing?
The short answer is no BUT... HTML was created as a subset
of SGML, a more general markup language. It (HTML) was
designed to be essentially a logical description of some
content with tags giving hints about how the content should
be rendered on a WIDE variety of platforms. The intent was
that titles, images, various levels of headers, blocks of
formatted and unformatted text, lists, etc. would be
indicated by tags to let the browser display things
appropriately on the user's platform. Search engines and
indexing programs could also make use of the tags to help do
Lately, though, HTML authors have been demanding more control
over how their pages are presented and Netscape, Microsoft and other
browsers have given it to them. The HTML 3.2 standards also
show a move in this direction. Now HTML authors have
something to say about image placement, bullet style,
backgrounds, centering of various kinds of content, etc. It
is very unlikely that any of these changes will be repealed
so, in a way, HTML is becoming more like desktop publishing.
People get emotional about this issue because they see the
web as it was originally intended: as a vast storehouse of
information. HTML was designed to help people (and their
machine agents) navigate the web, not to make pages
attractive. Using H5 simply to get a small typeface, for
example, violates the "meaning" of H5 which implies an H4
and all the preceding headers.
Others get emotional about this issue because they see the
web as a vast new field opening up for graphic designers and
other design professionals. They see the vast potential for
new and innovative uses of information and the presentation
medium. Using strictly structural HTML neglects the very
presentation that might make the information palatable to
those who need it.
Most professional HTML authors want to make their pages as attractive as
possible while maintaining validity and standards. If we sacrifice
structure for appearance, we'll break the web. If we sacrifice
appearance for validity we risk driving away the consumers who are
driving the development of new and better internet resources. The
bigger the web gets, the more crucial it is that it be navigable.
Giving authors even more control, Cascading Style Sheets have been
incorporated into the 4.0 specification proposal for HTML. This
allows authors the most specific control to date, while removing
that control to a non-integral part of the presentation process.
This allows browsers that function primarily on structure, (such
as Lynx) rather than appearance, to present the pages as readably
as a browser that uses the new control. Both sides gain.
- Should I use the Netscape extensions to HTML
or the Microsoft extensions (or anybody else's)?
The Guild agrees to disagree on this. Some members feel that
only strict, valid, HTML should be used. Some members feel
that ANY extensions that make your pages look good are
permissible. The vast majority of Guild members fall in
between these two extremes.
Most believe that if you create pages that only look good
when viewed with a particular browser, many users with other
browsers won't stick around to see what you have to offer.
Most also believe that non-valid HTML tags should be used
very carefully and that pages containing them should be
test-viewed with many browsers.
A commonly made observation is that the longer people write
HTML, the more valid their HTML becomes as they discover that
valid HTML takes much less time to write and to maintain.
For more information see Gerald Oskoboiny's excellent searchable
database of topics discussed on the Guild mailing list at:
For more information on the Guild and other HTML resources on the
World Wide Web, see the HTML Writers Guild web site:
- Can Guild Members hold pricing discussions in the mailing lists?
Short answer: NO.
Discussions of pricing issues are not allowed and will be cause for
immediate removal from the list and possible revocation of your guild
Keep these points in mind:
- The HTML Writers Guild will not suggest or recommend fees/prices/wages, and is
not involved in "price-fixing" in any manner.
- Discussion of rates, what to charge, etc. on the list will be sufficient
grounds for immediate unsubscription by the list administrator. Such
discussions can lead to criminal charges; just one list member can put us all
- If you don't like these policies, don't subscribe to the Guild's mailing lists.
- Any questions regarding this policy may be posted to the Guild' Operations
Mailing List hwg-ops.
- For more information about pricing discussions, see the
Pricing Discussions FAQ.