Something horribly wrong, written in (or using) HTML. Often makes stuff on the Web inaccessible, slow loading, unbookmarkable/irreproducible, aggravating,or just plain bugridden. Their synergism makes URLs and page sources incomprehensible and useless, but at least it reduces the risk of people actually communicating. Many HTML generators spew out this kind of thing. An HTML atrocity is usually a result of work by designers or programmers who are totally clueless. They don't know what HTML can and can't (and should and shouldn't) do, and they don't care for standards. They should be tried by a W3C tribunal. There are three major flavours:

  1. Bad HTML: gratuitous use of non-standard HTML tags (usually browser-specific); mostly-text regions rendered as graphics; anything dependent on the font, exact window size, etc.; and stuff generally opposed to the philosophy of HTML, such as the infamous blink tag.
  2. Not HTML: HTML hopelessly mixed in with JavaScript, Java applets, and plugin bits, to no particularly necessary effect; HTML generated dynamically, on demand, on the fly, through CGI, cookies, and whatnot, when static pages and a little planning would have done better.
  3. Lame HTML: HTML doing stuff it wasn't designed for (there's a lot of that), either because it was deliberately forced on a situation where it is inappropriate, or because the wrong approach was adopted. An attempt to create a "movie" in HTML is one example (see Netscape Fishcam).

  • Having the entire page inside a single frame, so the URL at the top doesn't change, but what looks like the page contents does. Has the beneficial side effect that on some platforms (e.g. UN*X) your Netscape PgUp/PgDn keys might not work, and you won't understand why not.
  • The "Back" link. Having passed the age of informed consent, I'm perfectly capable of pressing my browser's "Back" button; and I might not have come from where the designers of the page thought I did.
  • Nonstandard extensions, coupled with nonstandard or plain wrong MIME types. An example is serving HTML with a ".txt" extension, or a text file as text/html.

Note that some of the items on the original list (as well as the third on this list) are actually crimes against HTTP, but we might as well set up just one tribunal.

Personally, I think the worst thing one can do with HTML is neither to mix it with other languages, nor blink, nor anything to do with links or frames. No, the worst thing you can do is to make your text unreadable, because that is not just inconvenient, it defeats the very reason for which most webpages exist.
Some of the most common idiocies:

  • Background images with strong, fine-grained contrast. No matter what color the text, it will be hard to read.
  • Tiny, absolute fontsizes.
  • Text of medium brightness on a black background; really bad if your monitor isn't perfectly sharp.
  • No alt or longdesc attributes on images.Very bad - I couldn't post on some bulletin boards with images turned off because the "reply" image (the one that brings up the actual form to reply from) had no alt attribute
  • Using any kind of font tag. Style sheets forever!
  • Not conforming to W3C standards without a valid reason (which would be "I want to make it compatible with Browser X.x")
  • Knowing that your code isn't viewable in any browser, but not doing anything about it! Tip: graceful degradation is good.
  • Writing bad HTML code - it just isn't on, especially when there are a load of applications like HTML Tidy to help you clean up your code.

The things and more above might lead to your page not being accessable to people with disabilities - or perhaps to people who can't read that garish yellow text on a black background.

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