Web Sites Provenance

Something that has long troubled me has been the ability to establish a web sites credentials, or put another way, of the ability for web sites to remain cloaked in anonymity.

Now I realise that it’s not possible to expect sites to go to lengths to announce themselves or that they should have to, but it is a case that there are times when one simply does need to establish the credentials of the site authors to be purveying the content that they are. I need to know I can trust this material and it’s authors, is it authoritative?

In reality we do know that certain sites will be, for instance we know that the W3.org is the home for all matters to do with web standards, specifications etc; we know this because we do , we know the site url, we can examine the sites credentials on pages such as About W3C

Abound on the web though are countless sites all wishing to talk about coding, standards, provide opinion, provide guides and examples snippets of code; many are excellent, and – with a little experience – one can readily identify the those that know what they are talking about; there are also many not so authoritative, ones that can tend not to give as good advice or that provide less than exemplary snippets of code or guides.

We accept though that the Web is not a rigid place full of rules, for the web to have grown barriers could not have been put up to people setting up their sites for all to view and indeed no right thinking person would have wanted it any other way. This freedom many of us might say is enshrined in the nature of the web and must be preserved at all costs. The web must remain free!

My point in writing this though is that I wish when people do attempt to provide – what on face value sounds authoritative – subject matter that they could perhaps spend a little time in stating who they are and their level of experience.

My case in point was recently doing a little reading / research on HTML5 with a specific view to the argument / debate over XHTML Vs. HTML I came across a useful little page on XHTML Vs.HTML5 this gave a usefull comparison of the two standards (or emerging standard) setting out pros and cons for each this broke down into further detail on each of these pros and cons. Now I am in no way knocking the material but i did wish to verify some of the statements and also reassure myself that some of the statements were indeed accurate, this initially led me to check the publish date -none – but copyright year so one assumes it was written then; I then thought I would check to see if this was actually an official domain for the subject matter as xhtml.com is a pretty authoritative domain name and one would jump to the conclusion that it was an official repository of the specs for XHTML well if it is there is absolutely no mention of the fact; there are no authors cited, no about / ‘who we are’ page; checking who is records reveals nothing past a Godaddy registration and nameservers at mediatemple, in short I am none the wiser as to the site owners and whether I should be trusting of the material without much further cross checking of statements.

Would it have been so hard to have told us a little about themselves? It would help to establish the credentials of the site, a site that although I find useful I only trust so far in it’s commentary and statements.

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