FI: Fwd: Hippocratic Oath for Webmasters

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FI: Fwd: Hippocratic Oath for Webmasters

Jim Stuttard-3
A start?

------- Forwarded message -------
From: "Marcelo Finkielsztein" <[hidden email]>
To: [hidden email]
Subject: Fwd: Hippocratic Oath for Webmasters
Date: Mon, 28 Nov 2005 11:36:10 -0000


I would like to see specific reference about spyware.  Does point number 3
cover that?

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Martin Poulter <[hidden email]>
Date: Nov 22, 2005 9:49 AM
Subject: Hippocratic Oath for Webmasters
To: [hidden email]

Hello everybody,
        I one of a small group of professional webmasters in the UK who
have regular physical meetings. We are trying to codify and promote best
practice. I am used to referring people to the W3C's QA efforts,
including the QA Tips page and TimBL's writings in .
        However, the QA tips are not ideal for our purposes. They are
addressed to authors and webmasters. We want a statement of best
practice that is intelligible to users (so they recognise that someone is
working to make the web easier for them) and managers (so they
understand why we spend time working to achieve this). This led to the
idea of a "Webmaster Pledge", written as a letter to a user.
        This is not a badge that requires a judging panel to enforce
it: I'm not revisiting "Top 5% of web sites". This is more like Buddhist
ethical codes ("I undertake to refrain from...") or maybe the Hippocratic
        After an initial brainstorming session, I've boiled down a
ten-point, 300-word pledge, which I've included at the foot of this
email. As you can imagine, it's very hard to make something that is in
plain English, technically correct, challenging, attainable and
non-presumptive about the nature of the site (educational, commercial,
personal...) being discussed. For instance, we say that URLs
should be bookmarkable, rather than URIs, because there might be
one-shot URIs used legitimately in some applications such as
e-commerce, but more importantly because the nontechnical audience is
more likely to recognise the term "URL".
        A temporary site for the pledge, with annotations and more
background, has been created here:

I've joined this list because I'd be interested in:
* Comments on the idea of a webmaster pledge
* Suggestions on any important topics that have been missed out
* Improvements to the form of words we have so far (especially ways to
        make the first item succinct)

Thanks in advance for comments of any nature.

Webmaster Pledge v0.3
Authored by the HE Academy Technical Group, edited by Martin Poulter

1. Pages on our site will have a clear, consistent structure that lets
you find and use the content no matter whether you are using a
graphical, text-only, speech browser, mobile device or even reading the
page on a printout. Although we cannot guarantee a site will work on all
past, present and future browsers, we aim to be usable with all current
browsers and operating systems.

2. Content on our site will have meaningful URLs and be bookmarkable. If
we move or delete documents, the old URL will be redirected to a
relevant part of the site.

3. Our site will not break the controls on your web browser.

4. Links will give you a reasonable idea of what will happen when you
click on them, and warn you if it requires a large download or a helper

5. We will regularly check for and replace broken links. Content that
isn't marked as archived or given a definite date will be regularly

6. The document content of the site will be searchable in a way that
supports multiple terms, phrases and combinations of terms. Search
results will show you the location of each file and its relevance to
your search terms.

7. We will not hold personal information about you without your express

8. We will never show you a bare error message. If there is an error
(e.g. incorrect password, mistyped link), you will be told what the
problem is and what you can do next.

9. We will not make content difficult to read with superfluous music or
animation or intrusive advertising.

10. When you use our site for a transaction, such as making a purchase
or creating a personal account, it will be clear at which stage you are
and what remains to be done.

More explanation of this version at
Dr Martin L Poulter    Senior Technical Researcher, ILRT, Bristol, UK
Research interests: Philosophy of belief and Bayesian inductive logic

The full experience:
Community blog:
Politics wiki:

Jim Stuttard

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