W3Fools: foodfight or serious issue?


These guys are throwing down the gauntlet for sure. This is an effort by a lot of folks whose laptops I’m not fit to carry, including Paul Irish and Darcy Clarke among others, to either get W3Schools to clean up their act or vamoose.

We’ve discussed the shortcomings of W3Schools on these forums before. It is, or perhaps better to say was, a quite valuable resource; a lot of us learned plenty of chops on W3S. And it still has plenty to offer. But it suffers from obsolescence, inaccuracy, and just plain rot. Moreover, there’s no simple way to make corrections, either by our own submissions or by bug/error reports. The error list W3F has compiled is truly impressive (and some of them have been fixed since they were listed).

So, take a look at the Fools (and Schools, if you need to) site, and weigh in. What do you think? Does W3S deserve its high Google placement and rep as one of the single best sources of design and code info? Should it just disappear into the night? Should it (as the W3F site suggests) make a serious effort to fix its errors and open itself up to community correction – i.e. go wiki? Should W3F just shut up?

Bur what about all the other inaccuracies or bad practices on other web sites that are supposed to be a reference for web developers? Are those pushing for w3schools to update their site leaving themselves wide open to being seen as discriminating against w3schools if they don’t also push for every other site with similar aims and issues to update as well?

For example, there are inaccuracies and bad practices posted in “solutions” on this website as well. Is somebody going to go through them all and clean them up? I doubt it very much.

I like the idea, but I don’t think it will have any effect. The wiki idea is a good one, I think.

I do wish W3Schools would just disappear, however. Far too many bad practices on that site.

I agree wholehearedly that W3Schools is damaging to those that truly want the best information in order to do a job well.

However, I think these efforts are best targeted at those who constantly peddle W3Schools as the best resource for any Web Design/Development information. Two communities that I frequent, Stack Overflow and Reddit are keen to push W3Schools the second someone mentions that they have an interest in the subject and sadly these links are well-supported.

At the bottom they state this clearly, and I think the best thing people can do here is highlight what a poor resource W3Schools is.

But isn’t every other website that has inacuracies damaging as well? Why push w3schools to get its act together and none of the other websites that have similar issues with some inacuracies. I still use w3schools as a reference when I want a quick answer to something.

If it is as bad and inacurate as some people would like others to believe I doubt it would still be as popular as it is today. I wonder if some of those pushing to get rid of w3shools are just jealous of its historical and I assume still current success and popularity.

No because those other sites don’t constantly get confused as being connected with the W3C and therefore considered to be somehow official rather than just the work of two guys (who haven’t had the time to keep it up to date).

It is obvious with the other sites that they are not a part of the standards and often the real authority behind the site is obvious as well (unlike W3Schools which doesn’t have anything behind the two guys who created it to give it any sort of authority whatsoever).

Any site without a large team of people working full time on updating it will have some pages that are out of date and most such sites make it fairly obvious how many people are responsible for keeping the content up to date. There isn’t anything on the separate pages of the W3Schools site that indicates that there were only two people responsible for creating the site in the first place with no support structure behind them whatsoever - you have to really dig in order to find that.

The W3Schools site is incorrectly seen as being an authority because people confuse it with the W3C. Its popularity is simply due to people who are still writing code for the 20th Century recommending it as an authoritative resource because they don’t know any better. As a history of how things used to be done back then the site is an excellent resource apart from the fact that the pages are not labelled as of historical interest only.

So is the real issue here a concern that their domain name is causing some people to think they are associated with the w3c?

Instead of trying to pressure w3schools, should people rather be pushing the owners of every website with a w3 in the url to ensure their content is up to date and accurate so that if people mistakenly assume a website with a w3 in the url is part of the w3c they won’t be mislead into thinking any misinformation is part of a standard?

On a side note, the owners of w3schools get full marks from me for choosing a domain name likely to attract high traffic and unless they are misleading visitors to believe they are linked to the w3c then they are doing nothing wrong imo.

From the W3F site:

W3Schools.com is not affiliated with the W3C in any way. Members of the W3C have asked W3Schools to explicitly disavow any connection in the past, and they have refused to do so.

I don’t think W3S is explicitly claiming to be a W3C affiliate, but they sure do give that impression, and don’t do much of anything to correct it.


Whenever I search for a tag in a search engine, when I type “w3c (sometag) html” I should get the w3.org site as the first search result because it is the ultimate source. But w3schools always appears first, sometimes several entries, because they have more links to them (so google’s idea that “more links must mean better information” is such a load of bull). How often have I accidentally clicked on w3schools before realising I misread the URL. Arg.

Though the fools site does say this:

Named anchors have been deprecated since HTML4 and replaced with element IDs.

First I heard of that, it was XHTML1.0 (which still “allowed” it but warned it was actually deprecated in XHTML1.1), but have never heard of HTML4 having a problem with name tokens on forms, anchors, or area tags.

Since the OP didn’t mentioned it, allow me:
ReadWriteWeb article
discussion topic in the W3Schools forums in which the moderators (me included) share their point of view.

I agree in that I have often said a lot of the information is in accurate or misleading regarding markup. However, some people find the tutorials easy to follow - even if they are wrong.

I think one of the main problems is the visibility and name of the site even though they say they aren’t affiliated tonnes of posters will often get confused (and not just newbie type).

Why do W3Fools use a ‘non normative’ HTML5 style markup?

I’ve previously mentioned several dozen of the exact same things they have listed on these SP forums regarding the misleading info on schools.

As for TCP/IP it is not ‘bytes’ at all. To be technically correct it should actually say ‘octets’. :wink:

boen_robot, thanks for the links. The discussion is quite informative. I still stand by my earlier statement: the owners aren’t saying they’re affiliated with the W3C, but they know the impression has grown over time, and they don’t do much to correct it. Disclaimers in the forum are all but worthless. I found your comment on the forum telling:

I remember there were once quite a few disclaimers around the site too, though I seem to be unable to find them right now.

“Gee, learning to drive is simple if you follow these tutorials!” All well and good until you drive off a cliff. :slight_smile:

I’m not advocating that W3S close its doors and fade away. I would like to see the owners update and correct their site, and post a big fat disclaimer at the top of every page saying it is an independent site with no connection to W3S.

The problem is that since it is only run by two guys who have obviously moved on to other things for the most part, they probably don’t have the time to make any more changes than they do and so it could be many years before they would find enough time to add that disclaimer.

The site will probably be much the same as it is now when the HTML6 standard is released.

The particular problems with w3schools are that (i) the domain name makes it appear as though they are ‘official’ and affiliated to the W3C, and (ii) they often appear at the top of the search results, thereby attracting a very high proportion of surfers.

By that time I’ll be coding in Hell and won’t care much… :rofl:

Driving is easy, it’s learning to do it to a good standard and safely that isn’t. Also using a WYSINWYG is easy. I was just being akin to Devil’s Advocate weighing-up the pros-and-cons.

I wholeheartedly agree with the disclaimers being plastered on each page.

I personally wouldn’t miss it if it went and it may do the world a favour but in doing so it will it also leave a void for another site (to fill) which may be of equal badness. :slight_smile:

Why do they use HTML5?

  • less code
  • no reason not too
  • most of the contributors are evangelists for the future technologies

I’m not a big fan of W3S but I found this a quite poor excuse of W3F

An oft-repeated mantra in OSS (and a critique we’ve already received) is that you shouldn’t criticise something unless you’re willing to put your money where your mouth is and build something better. It’s an admirable ethos, but not really applicable here.

One of major issues with that site is the number of people who misinterpret the stats for global stats rather than just for that site. How many people who aren’t web developers visit w3cshools - 0 (its a guess of course). So those stats are pretty much worthless.

As for everything else I guess I just don’t use it as a reference often to see all the mistakes…

Don’t worry Max, I’ll probably be in code hell too before even HTML5, ever becomes fully ‘normative’ (if ever it does which it still may not) and I won’t care much either so can welcome you. :slight_smile: