December 13, 2001 3:40 PM PST

Standards advocates move into hibernation

After more than three years of prodding software companies into following common rules for software design, the Web Standards Project is putting its advocacy organization on ice.

"At this time, the Web Standards Project, which has been winding down for the past two years, takes a gentle leave of absence," reads a farewell notice on the group's Web site. "When needed, we will make ourselves heard in other ways, in other places--and perhaps mark the occasion with a small note here. We may even do new things here after a little time off."

WaSP formed in August 1998 when a group of Web site designers, fed up with inconsistent standards support by Netscape Communications and Microsoft, banded together to pressure the browser makers into hewing more closely to protocols ratified by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

The founders articulated a commonly held frustration that Web authors had to code alternative pages for every browser type and version that might be used to visit their sites.

The advocacy group, whose mascot was a giant, menacing wasp, was widely viewed as being successful in pressuring Microsoft, Netscape and others to adopt stricter standards support.

Many credited--and some faulted--WaSP for pressuring Netscape to rush its more standards-compliant Netscape 6 browser to the market. That browser was roundly criticized as not ready for prime time in its first release.

Toward the end of its run, as the browser war receded into computing history, the advocacy group turned its attention to the other side of the browsing equation: the code written by Web authors and Web authoring tools.

WaSP signed off with a warning to authors and authoring-tool makers.

"Most of the Web remains a Balkanized mess of non-valid markup, unstructured documents yoked to outdated presentational hacks, and incompatible code fragments that leave many millions of Web users frustrated and disenfranchised," the farewell reads. "Browser makers are no longer the problem."


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