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.

#46 Just shut up already.

by Blake <>

Friday November 10th, 2000 8:53 PM

You are replying to this message

People are not throwing insults just to throw insults; they are sick of your continously shifting demands. Enough of this bullshit that you didn't ask Netscape to rush and release it's browser; and enough of the lie that you asked them only to speed development of a fully standards compliant browser.

This is an exact quote from your earlier article when you were in your "hurry up and rush" mood:

"Why are you taking forever to deliver a usable browser?"

This isn't an implicit request to hurry up with the browser? Please. Oh, and I don't see the mention of a "fully standards compliant browser" in there; I see only a mention of a "usable" browser.

And what's this?: "you must ship Netscape 6 before its market evaporates". Hi there, newsflash: Netscape's marketshare has been declining rapidly for years.

Why do I have this feeling that the entire article was written by you, even though it's signed "The WaSP"? How many of the views expressed on the site are actually of the group, and not just your own sickening rants?

It is quite easy to sit on the sidelines and shout commands. "Take the time to make it fully standards compliant!" (<>) "Hurry up and release a usable browser already!" (<>) Do you have any idea how long it takes to complete a project like Netscape 6? Do you know what a large undertaking that is? Clearly not, by your comment: "If you genuinely realized it would take two years to replace Netscape 4, we wish you would have told us". Unfortunately for you, you're not going to be able to have your cake and eat it too. Still, you should be happy. Netscape took your two completely opposing arguments and compromised by releasing an almost fully standards compliant without letting more time pass (and letting their marketshare decline even more). But you're not happy. And as long as you continue to demand that Netscape release a fully standards compliant browser extremely soon, you never will be.

*** "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."

You clearly have no idea how the Mozilla and Netscape projects work. Let me ask you something: what are these "nifty extras" that are making it into the RTM branch this late? Do tell.

*** "Mr Flanagan asked that these bug fixes be incorporated in the final release, even if it meant a brief delay"

Mr. Flanagan does not understand this project or, seemingly, how software shipment works. And if you agree wholeheartedly with his perspective then I'd be inclined to say that you don't either. Allowing the five or so fixes that Mr. Flanagan mentions into the rtm branch would change -- get this -- absolutely nothing. Because after that there would be another five fixes, and another five fixes, and another five fixes. Are you going to argue that all of those go in as well? Or should Netscape be consulting you from now on about when it's OK to stop accepting fixes? Flanagan also seems to have no knowledge of regressions or programming. He says "short patches" and "reviewed by senior engineers" (er, who are these again?), as if such fixes could never cause any hard-to-spot crashes.

*** "Since standards compliance is the goal of Mozilla"

Mozilla is separate from Netscape, and since Mozilla 1.0 is a long way off, it will be significantly more standards compliant than Netscape 6.0. So I'm not sure what you intended by mentioning this, but it didn't work.

*** "I think anyone standing outside the process"

But this is exactly the problem. You do not understand the process, and thus you are in no position to criticize it. Sorry that you felt that a project as large as writing a suite of applications from the ground-up and simultaneously developing the languages used to create this suite could be accomplished in a year's time, because it can't. Netscape did not promise it could, and if you had a deeper understanding of this project, you would understand (and would have understood) that you were imposing upon Netscape an infeasible deadline.

*** "to such a common-sense proposition."

I think the problem here is that you see your latest request as black-and-white: release a fully standards compliant browser, just as you promised. But what everyone else sees, and rightly so, is someone who can't make up his mind on what he wants: a standards compliant browser that will take months longer, or a mostly standards compliant browser real soon.

*** "It is already too late to respond to the WaSP's request of last summer. That request has fallen by the wayside"

What? You made a very clear, very strong request that Netscape hurry up with it's browser. Now you want that just be forgotten about? Sorry. Not happening. Why should anyone take you seriously anymore? If Netscape holds its browser and works for a couple months on standards compliance, then releases, are you going to publish a scathing article about Netscape's schedule slipping?

Contrary to your seeming belief, you were not the sole impetus in Netscape's decision to strive for standards compliance. As such, and despite what you seem to think, you cannot (or should not) feel free to make demands that change on a regular basis. Had you chosen a position, supported it reasonably, and stuck by it, people would not be responding the way they are. But you hurt your own interests and lost all credibility when you started bending and swaying to the public opinion.