Response to Jeffrey Zeldman of the WSP

Tuesday November 7th, 2000

It didn't take long for the Web Standards Project to come out with yet another hilarious piece of rambling.

Yes, Jeffrey Zeldman of the Web Standards Project has responded to my piece regarding the Flanagan petition. But is he responding to me?

Mr. Zeldman writes, "The petition by David Flanagan asks Netscape to release a standards-compliant browser, as promised. And as part of that, to incorporate bug fixes which already exist, due to the work of Mozilla engineers. That's anti-Mozilla bias? I can't follow your logic."

Did I mention anti-mozilla bias in my article, in regards to the Flanagan petition? No. Did I say anything about anti-Mozilla bias in my piece at all? No. I don't even know how to respond to arguments against comments I never made. Maybe that's because Mr. Zeldman has no idea who he is directing his comments towards.

Mr. Zeldman seems to equate my opinions on my site with the opinions of anyone and everyone else. He states, "Now someone else criticizes Netscape's implementation of your work...." and "I believe you owe it to yourselves..." and "If you don't want Netscape to bring consumers the best possible fruit of your labors, then why have you labored so long and so hard?" and "I don't think your attitude will serve you well in the marketplace...".

Who are you talking to, Jeffrey? If you want to address Netscape, address them. If you want to address, address them. If you want to address me, aim your comments at me, and stop obfuscating by implying that I speak for anyone other than myself.

In regard to Mr. Zeldman, I only made the specific charge that he neglected to actually examine Netscape 6's standards compliance before making his comments in Dave Flanagan's petition. Not surprisingly, Mr. Zeldman didn't answer the charge in his piece.

Mr. Zeldman writes, "Now someone else criticizes Netscape's implementation of your work, and instead of seeing it as support for the work you've done, you attempt to demonize the author."

In fact, Jeffrey, David Flanagan chose to not mention the fact that Netscape 6, in its current form, would be the most standards compliant browser on the market. He doesn't give any indication of how Netscape 6 stacks up against IE 5.5 Win or IE 5.0 Mac. In fact, he specifically gives the impression, in the title of his piece, that Netscape 6 is utterly non-compliant ("Netscape Navigator 6.0 to Fail Standards Compliance"). In Mr. Flanagan's piece, I see no support for the work that has been done *at all* (except for the patches for the bugs that he has an interest in). I am not alone in this assessment. Many Mozilla/Netscape developers felt that Mr. Flanagan's comments were extremely one-sided, unfair, and utterly out of touch with the development process. But Mr. Flanagan doesn't just paint an untrue picture of Netscape 6's standards compliance. He then uses this incomplete information to encourage others to support his view. And on top of that, he encourages them to tell Netscape to stop the release of their product, when they have RTM candidates! The audacity!

Mr. Zeldman, who railed against name-calling in my piece, recommends that I see a psychiatrist. But it seems that I'm arguing with someone who is himself arguing against his own made-up version of my statements. Someone who addresses me in the plural. Who seems to extract content from Dave Flanagan's article that doesn't exist. You make the call.

Jeffrey is right about one thing. We can't communicate at all. I can't communicate with someone who twists my words so transparently, who seemingly makes up facts to suit his opinions, and who refuses to investigate the truth about Netscape 6's standards compliance.

Do the tests. Netscape 6, when released, will be the most standards compliant browser on the market. And the WSP will still be led by a gentleman who seems to have no interest in basing his opinions on facts.

#42 Re: What are Mr. Zeldman's real motives?

by Zeldman

Friday November 10th, 2000 3:45 PM

You are replying to this message

I'm surprised it took this long for someone to raise the specter of my "real motives."

This won't do any good, but I'll try to clarify things anyway:

We did not tell you to "rush" a faulty browser to market. We asked you to finish producing a standards-compliant browser as quickly as you could. You failed to do that. Now we are simply asking you to produce a standards-compliant browser. And you are telling us that you don't have to, don't want to, and it's our fault anyway. I hope you do not speak for everyone here.

I've already said what I needed to say, but I'll try to address your concerns one at a time:

We didn't advise "rushing [Netscape 6] out the door." (After three years, the phrase "rushing out the door" makes no sense anyway.) What we actually said was that the browser's lateness to market was hurting its chances and casting doubts on the very notion that a standards-compliant browser could be released in a timely manner. And that Netscape 4's lack of standards-compliance made things tough for those who wished to build standards-compliant sites.

Therefore we encouraged those responsible for the project's management to cut through the clutter, leave aside the nifty extras for now, and finish building the world's first standards-compliant browser, whose announcement we had heralded two and half years earlier.

We support your efforts but were dismayed by the constantly slipping delivery dates. Our statement generated a great deal of hostility here. I expected some expressions of dismay but not nearly the collective roar I heard. The fact that we supported you was lost in the rage and rhetoric.

More recently, Mr Flanagan pointed out serious problems with the upcoming browser, many of which had been solved already by Mozilla's engineers. Mr Flanagan asked that these bug fixes be incorporated in the final release, even if it meant a brief delay. That made sense to me personally so I signed his petition and was promptly attacked by Chris for doing so.

It is already too late to respond to the WaSP's request of last summer. That request has fallen by the wayside. It may not be too late to release a fully standards-compliant browser. Since standards compliance is the goal of Mozilla, and a standards-compliant browser would give Netscape a worthwhile and significant point of difference from its competitors, I would personally encourage you to make sure Netscape releases a browser that reflects your best efforts.

I think anyone standing outside the process can see that it is in your interests to have Netscape release a stable, standards-compliant browser based on Mozilla. And that personal attacks are an inappropriate, immature, and paranoid response to such a common-sense proposition.

I'm not insulting or attacking anyone here. Merely offering my perspective, which you are free to consider or ignore. If you'd rather sling mud and call names than think about what I've said, that's on you.

The goal of the Web Standards Project is to persuade browser makers to support standards. Therefore we support the concept of a standards-compliant browser built by you. And we've supported that concept for nearly three years. Supporters sometimes kibbitz from the sidelines and sometimes criticize. You're free to disregard these criticisms, and since Free Speech is an inalienable right, you're even free to respond to criticism with personal attacks instead of thought. I don't see what it gets you, other than a quick release of tension.

Leave me aside and leave the WaSP aside, since some of you have decided that anything we have to say is wrong, evil, and stupid. Fine. Think that if you choose. But consider Mr Flanagan's proposal anyway, because it is in your interest and in the interest of all web developers and users.