The Law of User-Generated Code
Post from August 4, 2015 (↻ July 28, 2019), filed under Web Development.
Whenever you allow users to edit and control code of your website, you’re doomed. It’s only a matter of time until you need to give up and redo the entire website—and, for an extra twist, alienate all users.
Technically this has been the fate of MySpace, and it will be the destiny of Tumblr.
The reason is that user-generated and user-edited code jams 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 (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 this 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 dare to coin (the only useful non-technical one is probably The 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 is a technical lead and author (sum.cumo, W3C, O’Reilly). He loves trying things, including in the realms of philosophy, art, and adventure. Here on meiert.com he shares and generalizes and exaggerates some of his thoughts and experiences.
If you have any thoughts or questions (or recommendations) about what he writes, leave a comment or a message.
Have a look at the most popular posts, possibly including:
Perhaps my most relevant book: CSS Optimization Basics (2018). Writing CSS is a craft. As craftspeople we strive to write high quality CSS. In CSS Optimization Basics I lay out the, at least some of the most important aspects of such CSS.
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