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  1. #1
    SitePoint Member ChipOManiac's Avatar
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    Moral Dilema: My Company Doesn't Know A Thing About Standards

    So I'm an intern , and I'm pretty happy that I got the chance. Basically it's the IT wing of one of the biggest companies in my country.

    But I've faced a certain moral dilemma during the past few days that's keeping me edgy.

    Lets take it this way: I'm basically a self taught person when it comes to Web-Design. When it comes to marking up pages and writing style sheets, I do it all according to standards. I've done the bad and ugly, learned from it, and have improved my self continuously.

    For now in this company, I'm under the supervision of one of their web-designers who has been with the company for a while, and has worked in the industry for quite some time (several years I guess). There's another "Associate Web-Designer" that works as well, she's been in the industry for quite some time too and in a "respected" web-design company.

    My problem: neither of them know anything about web standards. To quote a few they do:
    1. Using divs instead of p, h*, and virtually everything, and saying that it's not a problem if they do that.
    2. saying that nesting lists is wrong.
    3. telling me to use a divs where I could have just used the semantically correct ul.
    4. they use tables for layout.
    5. using the br tag where they could just use p


    I'm not even sure that I'm right anymore.

    So just to ask, what should I do?
    1. Shut up and bend to their rules
    2. Or tell them that they're wrong (Remember these are people who have been in the industry)


    Or am I wrong?

    PS. I've realized the hard way that I don't have the creative edge that a web designer needs, most of the designs that I do are simplistic, so I don't really think I'll be pursuing a career in this.

  2. #2
    padawan silver trophybronze trophy markbrown4's Avatar
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    The best thing to do is to code things properly and simply say there's a better way if they question it.
    If you can do that without being an overbearing know it all they'll adopt it and you will have helped.

  3. #3
    SitePoint Member ChipOManiac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markbrown4 View Post
    The best thing to do is to code things properly and simply say there's a better way if they question it.
    If you can do that without being an overbearing know it all they'll adopt it and you will have helped.
    I hope I didn't sound like an overbearing know it all did I?

  4. #4
    padawan silver trophybronze trophy markbrown4's Avatar
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    No, you didn't. It's just easy to come across that way without meaning to, especially when talking about something like standards. I know I have in the past

    I would never work for a company that didn't want me to challenge them when they do something badly.

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    SitePoint Member ChipOManiac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markbrown4 View Post
    No, you didn't. It's just easy to come across that way without meaning to. I know I have in the past

    I would never work for a company that didn't want me to challenge them when they do something badly.
    Phew, what a relief! The last thing I want is to sound like I'm a whining little idiot.

    I guess what you suggested is the best way, but despite my attempts to code well and bring it to their attention, they've been pretty indifferent about my code, they don't question it. Should I tell them there's a better way politely?

    That being said, thanks for your thoughts I appreciate it!

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    padawan silver trophybronze trophy markbrown4's Avatar
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    Those 5 points I would raise when they're appropriate, I wouldn't start by saying You're WRONG!

    Raise something when you see it done badly or are asked to change your code, e.g. explain why <br>'s for spacing is wrong because you might want to change the space between paragraphs and with <br>'s you can't do that.

    People produce better things when people disagree and are open to discussion.
    The worst things are produced when no-one questions or challenges and just does what they are told.
    Humor can help keep these discussions free of anger.
    There's no one right way, sometimes just flat out telling someone it's wrong is appropriate.

    But I've faced a certain moral dilemma during the past few days that's keeping me edgy.
    If you can make your case and create positive change you will have learned the valuable skill of persuasion.
    Try something with a level head. If it doesn't work try something else.

    Wanting to produce something better is a worthy pursuit.

  7. #7
    SitePoint Member ChipOManiac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markbrown4 View Post
    Those 5 points I would raise when they're appropriate, I wouldn't start by saying You're WRONG!
    I understand

    Quote Originally Posted by markbrown4 View Post
    Raise something when you see it done badly or are asked to change your code, e.g. explain why <br>'s for spacing is wrong because you might want to change the space between paragraphs and with <br>'s you can't do that.

    People produce better things when people disagree and are open to discussion.
    The worst things are produced when no-one questions or challenges and just does what they are told.
    Humor can help keep these discussions free of anger.
    There's no one right way, sometimes just flat out telling someone it's wrong is appropriate.


    If you can make your case and create positive change you will have learned the valuable skill of persuasion.
    Try something with a level head. If it doesn't work try something else.

    Wanting to produce something better is a worthy pursuit.
    I really do want to help them, since they've got the creative edge that's so needed in this profession, so I will try to get them to improve while keeping the things you said in mind. Thanks for helping me our MarkBrown4 !

    (Sorry for the late reply, lightning storm here)

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    ralph.m's Avatar
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    I agree with Mark here. Code the best way you can, and if they tell you to change it, be honest and tell them you can't do that, because it is just the wrong thing to do. If they are worth a cracker, they'll respect that, and wake up to their shortcomings.

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    Life is not a malfunction gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy
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    You might want to keep an eye out for suitable references/articles to back up your point of view. Then if somebody queries your approach, you can say "Well I've been reading about it and this seems like the way forward. There's a good article here, if you'd like to read it for yourself." That way, they can kid themselves that they learnt the right techniques from respected industry sources, rather than have to admit that the intern knows more than they do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChipOManiac View Post
    So I'm an intern , and I'm pretty happy that I got the chance. Basically it's the IT wing of one of the biggest companies in my country.

    But I've faced a certain moral dilemma during the past few days that's keeping me edgy.

    Lets take it this way: I'm basically a self taught person when it comes to Web-Design. When it comes to marking up pages and writing style sheets, I do it all according to standards. I've done the bad and ugly, learned from it, and have improved my self continuously.

    For now in this company, I'm under the supervision of one of their web-designers who has been with the company for a while, and has worked in the industry for quite some time (several years I guess). There's another "Associate Web-Designer" that works as well, she's been in the industry for quite some time too and in a "respected" web-design company.

    My problem: neither of them know anything about web standards. To quote a few they do:
    1. Using divs instead of p, h*, and virtually everything, and saying that it's not a problem if they do that.
    2. saying that nesting lists is wrong.
    3. telling me to use a divs where I could have just used the semantically correct ul.
    4. they use tables for layout.
    5. using the br tag where they could just use p


    I'm not even sure that I'm right anymore.

    So just to ask, what should I do?
    1. Shut up and bend to their rules
    2. Or tell them that they're wrong (Remember these are people who have been in the industry)


    Or am I wrong?

    PS. I've realized the hard way that I don't have the creative edge that a web designer needs, most of the designs that I do are simplistic, so I don't really think I'll be pursuing a career in this.
    You're correct and they are wrong.

    Honestly, my advice would be to find another job somewhere else. Working there is only going to hold you back. I can't stand working with people who are happy with sloppy and/or sub-standard work. Start looking around for something better. That's my advice to you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ralph.m View Post
    I agree with Mark here. Code the best way you can, and if they tell you to change it, be honest and tell them you can't do that, because it is just the wrong thing to do. If they are worth a cracker, they'll respect that, and wake up to their shortcomings.
    Problem is that within the company, he's the junior guy and the other guys are the "senior" developers. His management will almost certainly respect the opinion of the established guys rather than listen to what he has to say.

    I'd look for another job if I were him.

  12. #12
    SitePoint Member ChipOManiac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ralph.m View Post
    I agree with Mark here. Code the best way you can, and if they tell you to change it, be honest and tell them you can't do that, because it is just the wrong thing to do. If they are worth a cracker, they'll respect that, and wake up to their shortcomings.
    I understand. Thank you!

    Quote Originally Posted by TechnoBear View Post
    You might want to keep an eye out for suitable references/articles to back up your point of view. Then if somebody queries your approach, you can say "Well I've been reading about it and this seems like the way forward. There's a good article here, if you'd like to read it for yourself." That way, they can kid themselves that they learnt the right techniques from respected industry sources, rather than have to admit that the intern knows more than they do.
    That seems to be a good way to deal with it, guess showing them the standards is one way to get them to improve and not get any hate towards me. Thank you for your thoughts.

    Quote Originally Posted by aaarrrggh View Post
    You're correct and they are wrong.

    Honestly, my advice would be to find another job somewhere else. Working there is only going to hold you back. I can't stand working with people who are happy with sloppy and/or sub-standard work. Start looking around for something better. That's my advice to you.
    My first thoughts when I encountered this horrific code is that I wouldn't want to work here anymore with this kind of status. But I'd like to try and help them out since they're good designers, I might as well try for the engineering division instead.

    Thank You for your thoughts.

  13. #13
    SitePoint Member ChipOManiac's Avatar
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    I just had a talk with the "associate", she isn't gonna budge, she thinks she's right. The lead is willing to improve himself, so I'm pretty sure he'll set her straight. As for me, heading for engineering is a good prospect for me.

    Does the following verify as good semantic code?

    HTML Code:
    <div>
       <li>...</li>
       <li>...</li>
    </div>
    They're saying this is for SEO:
    HTML Code:
    <h6># 148,<br/>
    Vauxhall Street,</br>
    Colombo 02, Sri Lanka </h6> <!-- Address -->
    <h5>+9480 07654 321</h5> <!-- Phone number -->

  14. #14
    It's all Geek to me silver trophybronze trophy
    ralph.m's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChipOManiac View Post
    Does the following verify as good semantic code?

    HTML Code:
    <div>
       <li>...</li>
       <li>...</li>
    </div>
    No.

    (Get me a bucket. I need to vomit.)

    They're saying this is for SEO:
    HTML Code:
    <h6># 148,<br/>
    Vauxhall Street,</br>
    Colombo 02, Sri Lanka </h6> <!-- Address -->
    <h5>+9480 07654 321</h5> <!-- Phone number -->
    I need another bucket.

  15. #15
    SitePoint Member ChipOManiac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ralph.m View Post
    No. (Get me a bucket. I need to vomit.)

    I need another bucket.
    she was pretty severe with me on the first one to quote:
    There's no need for a ul!
    Guess she's never read the HTML spec.... I just hope she perks up before she heads for Australia...

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChipOManiac View Post
    she was pretty severe with me on the first one to quote:
    Yes, people who got into web design before the standards movement got into full swing can be pretty dangerous. There is no way I would put up with them professionally, even if it meant being unemployed. Just like I'd rather be poor than turn to crime.

  17. #17
    SitePoint Member ChipOManiac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ralph.m View Post
    Yes, people who got into web design before the standards movement got into full swing can be pretty dangerous. There is no way I would put up with them professionally, even if it meant being unemployed. Just like I'd rather be poor than turn to crime.
    Seems bleak for me doesn't it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChipOManiac View Post
    she was pretty severe with me on the first one to quote:


    Guess she's never read the HTML spec.... I just hope she perks up before she heads for Australia...
    When I first read that code example I was half awake in the morning here and was like "Don't see anything wrong with that... Not sure what he's.. oh crap they're really doing that? No <ul>? Ugh... wtf..."

    The second example is even worse. Do they know there's such a thing as an actual <address> tag in html? And those <br/> tags... ugh...

    Yeah, you're in the wrong place my friend. If you do stay there, make sure you don't fall into the trap of taking notice of people like that. There's a danger poor standards could become "normal" to you if you work in an environment like that over time. Take it from me - YOU are right, not them.

  19. #19
    SitePoint Member ChipOManiac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aaarrrggh View Post
    When I first read that code example I was half awake in the morning here and was like "Don't see anything wrong with that... Not sure what he's.. oh crap they're really doing that? No <ul>? Ugh... wtf..."

    The second example is even worse. Do they know there's such a thing as an actual <address> tag in html? And those <br/> tags... ugh...

    Yeah, you're in the wrong place my friend. If you do stay there, make sure you don't fall into the trap of taking notice of people like that. There's a danger poor standards could become "normal" to you if you work in an environment like that over time. Take it from me - YOU are right, not them.
    Thank you, I'll be sure to heed your advice!

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by aaarrrggh View Post
    There's a danger poor standards could become "normal" to you if you work in an environment like that over time.
    +1 Yes, that would be my worry. Imagine your next (standards savvy) employer saying—"So, show me what you worked on at your last job."

  21. #21
    SitePoint Member ChipOManiac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ralph.m View Post
    +1 Yes, that would be my worry. Imagine your next (standards savvy) employer saying—"So, show me what you worked on at your last job."
    If they forced me to code the way they code, I'd resign. I will follow standards.

    Edit:
    Just FYI, the stuff I posted is going to be our company website, I hate it but I can't do anything about it.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChipOManiac View Post
    If they forced me to code the way they code, I'd resign. I will follow standards.
    That's the spirit!

    If you were an engineer, you wouldn't want to design something that would fall down; or if a doctor, prescribe a medicine that would kill. Web designers need to hold to the same standard.

  23. #23
    SitePoint Member ChipOManiac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ralph.m View Post
    That's the spirit!

    If you were an engineer, you wouldn't want to design something that would fall down; or if a doctor, prescribe a medicine that would kill. Web designers need to hold to the same standard.
    Good way to put it actually

  24. #24
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    Why not run various pages through the W3C validator and print off the error reports and just leave them laying around where they might be noticed. If you do it for pages where you have to make changes and make sure that there are no errors in the part you changed then if they ask about the reports you can simply say that you were checking that your changes didn't add anything into the page that wasn't HTML - since the validator simply tests if the tags are valid HTML or not.
    Stephen J Chapman

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    <input name="html5" type="text" required pattern="^$">

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    I would recommend that you approach this situation very delicately – that is if you would like to keep your job.

    The fact of the mater is that you are the bottom of totem pole. As an intern you probably aren't even on the totem pole. Therefore, no one is likely to take you seriously. That is unless you come off extremely confident and have facts to back up what you are saying. However, this will not guarantee any results. The thing you really have working against you is your position. That might be impossible to overcome dependent on how confident you have been the whole way through. If you have been coming off shy when confronted than chances are you won't be able to recover because you will have already formed an impression that you don't really believe in what you are saying.

    The fact that you asking here whether certain practices are "correct" or not leads be to believe that you have come off uncertain to your superiors. Thus are going to have a very difficult time convincing them otherwise. Therefore, I would recommend to start looking for a new job because you are unlikely to change anything. Politics plays a significant role in this. Politics that you can't overcome unless you have seniority, are liked or have formed an image in others mind that you know what you are talking about which doesn't seem so.

    The key to having people embrace new ideas is believing in what you are saying and having extreme confidence in it. Lacking that your thoughts will be nothing more than background noise. Especially when compared to people with a high level seniority over you that have been with a company for much longer amounts of time. I have seen it time and time again. In office setting seniority and confidence matters more than correctness of information. You can have the dumbest idea but if delivered well with extreme confidence with a little seniority to back you up people will embrace it. That is the way it works.
    The only code I hate more than my own is everyone else's.


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