Jens Oliver Meiert

Meiert’s Law of User-Generated Code

Post from August 4, 2015 (↻ July 3, 2017), filed under .

Whenever you allow users to edit the code of your website, you’re doomed. It’s only a matter of time until you need to rewrite the whole website—and alienate all those users.

Technically this has been the fate of MySpace, and it will be the destiny of Tumblr.

The big problems are that user-generated and user-edited code jam the whole idea of constantly maintaining and improving our websites (web design is a process), and that users, left with HTML and CSS reign, write garbage code (and no one can blame them).

Yet! This is all cool. Just as MySpace and Tumblr will have been aware of this problematique for their platforms, others will have consciously accepted the challenge, too. Sometimes what already helps is awareness, and once we are aware, we can do a little even about doom.

This is the first technical “law” I venture to coin (the only useful non-technical one is probably Meiert’s Law of Travel!). But, I’ve written much about web development and design over the years, and just published a little anthology with many things as good as laws: principles. Have a look.

About the Author

Jens Oliver Meiert, photo of July 27, 2015.

Jens Oliver Meiert is an author, developer (O’Reilly, W3C, ex-Google), and philosopher. He experiments with art and adventure. Here on meiert.com he shares and generalizes and exaggerates some of his thoughts and experiences.

There’s more Jens in the archives and at Goodreads. If you have any questions or concerns (or recommendations) about what he writes, leave a comment or a message.

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Last update: July 3, 2017

“The end does not justify the means.”