How to Uncover Pseudo-Standardistas

Published on November 20, 2008 (↻ February 5, 2024), filed under (RSS feed for all categories).

This and many other posts are also available as a pretty, well-behaved ebook: On Web Development.

There’s a growing group of developers that doesn’t help our attempts for faster, more accessible, more maintainable, and generally quality-oriented web development: pseudo-standardistas. There are several ways to identify pseudos (apart from the hints Henri shared), the easiest being:

  1. Pseudo-standardistas report to be member of standard bodies and organizations like e.g. W3C. However, a non-paper member participating in W3C work will usually have at least one results page of entries when reviewing their work, so try searching Google for contributions on W3C mailing lists. (Searching does work for verifying contributions to other initiatives, too.)

  2. Pseudo-standardistas like to point out how great valid HTML is (it is, even though validation isn’t everything). Try validating their site to see if they act accordingly (keep the HTML 5 doctype in mind—<!DOCTYPE html>—, which isn’t recognized by the WDG and a few other validators).

  3. Pseudo-standardistas make maintainability mistakes like working with presentational ID and class names, and using (maybe even recommending) Conditional Comments or multiple style sheet references in the markup. This is a tough call (not everyone will appreciate this) and surely an advanced requirement (many peers don’t find it problematic to link to several style sheets out of their pages’ markup), but still a red flag when it comes to maintainability.

There are more telltales of pseudo-advocates of modern web development (I feel reminded of “valid this or that” badges), but at least in German-speaking countries there’s an awkward tendency to rest on laurels not deserved yet. I don’t mind decisive self-promotion and marketing (heck, it’s Europe’s small answer to Barack Obama writing this post), but we need to ask ourselves if that’s in the best interest of our industry.

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About Me

Jens Oliver Meiert, on September 30, 2021.

I’m Jens (long: Jens Oliver Meiert), and I’m a frontend engineering leader and tech author/publisher. I’ve worked as a technical lead for companies like Google and as an engineering manager for companies like Miro, I’m close to W3C and WHATWG, and I write and review books for O’Reilly and Frontend Dogma.

I love trying things, not only in web development (and engineering management), but also in other areas like philosophy. Here on I share some of my views and experiences.

If you want to do me a favor, interpret charitably (I speak three languages, and they can collide), yet be critical and give feedback for me to learn and improve. Thank you!

Comments (Closed)

  1. On November 20, 2008, 21:44 CET, Duluoz said:

    Have you ever heard the term armchair quarterback? These are typically individuals who might have, or not, played some high school football, who think they can do better than the quarterbacks they watch on TV in their recliners. Perhaps there is such a thing as armchair standardistas?

  2. On November 24, 2008, 12:55 CET, Jens Oliver Meiert said:

    David, no, unfortunately not! I like “armchair standardista”! 😂

  3. On November 27, 2008, 15:03 CET, Christophe Strobbe said:

    Regarding point 1: (a) the mailing lists of some working groups are not public; (b) some other contributions have no public visibility, e.g. filling in questionnaires through the W3C’s WBS; (c) when searching mail archives, check that those mails don’t just say “regrets” (in response to the announcement of a conference call): some people seem to send more “regrets” mails than anything else but don’t want to give up working group “participation” because it looks nice on their CVs (and book announcements).