Why Postel’s Law is awesome

Caveat: Web standards are good. Everyone knows this. Without standards we’d have anarchy, or anyway we’d be stuck in the late 90s, trying to implement as many versions of our webpages as there are browsers. In my opinion, this does not at all mean that Postel’s law is wrong.

Be conservative in what you send, liberal in what you accept.

Lets start by taking a step back. What made the internet into the thing it is today? What makes it so appealing for so many people, all over the world? I’m willing to venture some of these things had something to do with it: free content, diversity of content, breadth or scope of content, and ease of access to that content. The internet is SO amazing because it is so diverse, and so immense, and so incredibly huge.

Sure, technology is cool. I personally find all the latest trends in programming to be really cool. But the technology that runs the internet is just one very narrow slice of content. It’s no lie: Content is king.

Now why is the internet so huge? How come there is so much content? Well, the answer to that is Postel’s law. Or rather, the answer to that is that early browser developers adopted Postel’s law. Because they made it easy enough to put stuff on the internet that pretty much anybody can do it. And they did do it! And that’s why the internet is so fucking awesome!

Can you imagine how much more frustrating web content creation would be if you saw errors every time you fucked up some html? Yes, for those of us who are web development professionals, it can occasionally be frustrating when the browser doesn’t tell you what you’re doing wrong… but this is an argument for better debugging tools, not for stricter html. I mean, do you really think debugging should be turned on by default? Hell fucking no!!! I know I laugh whenever I see backend error messages on a webpage. Fucking amateurs!

So IMHO it’s only fitting that each new version of a browser, or each new version of a web standard brings with it new pains and frustrations for those of us in the web development profession. After all, it’s our job to make sure this stuff works… We get paid the big bucks for those pixel perfect designs!

But if the browser developers are doing their jobs right (and damn straight the standards people better be doing their jobs right), content creation should only ever get easier. After all, it’s what makes the interweb such an amazingly awesome thing.

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