The Law of User-Generated Code

Published on August 4, 2015 (↻ February 5, 2024), filed under (RSS feed).

Whenever you allow users to edit 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, adding insult to injury, alienate your 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 poor 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.

Toot about this?

About Me

Jens Oliver Meiert, on September 30, 2021.

I’m Jens, and I’m an engineering lead and author. I’ve worked as a technical lead for companies like Google, 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, but also in other areas like philosophy. Here on meiert.com I share some of my views and experiences.

If you have a question or suggestion about what I write, please leave a comment (if available) or a message. Thank you!