November 13, 2004
I was home working on the novel, minding my own business, when suddenly the door crashed in. A dozen men in black body armor swarmed through the splintered doorframe. "FEDERAL AGENTS! PUT DOWN THE LAPTOP!" I raised my hands, confused and frightened. What on earth had I done?
Then a blue eyed, middle-aged man in a charcoal suit strode into the room. I gulped. "Oh my God, it's United States Congressional Representative Michael G. Oxley, (R-OH)!"
"That's right, Evan," Rep. Oxley said. "You've been a bad boy, I hear."
"Those Sports Night DVDs are entirely legitimate," I said. "Look, I can find the receipt..."
Oxley waggled his finger. "I'm talking about... the X-Philes."
My blood ran cold. "The X-Philes?"
"Yes," he said. "We have reports that substantial numbers of X-Philes sites are dead. Or worse, gone back to tag soup."
I shifted uncomfortably in my seat. "Well... I was kinda counting on self-policing..." Rep. Oxley looked disgusted. The federal agents looked at each other, shaking their heads. "Keee-rist," I heard one say.
"Son," Oxley said, putting his hand on my shoulder, "I'm sure this is all an honest mistake. I'm sure you didn't mean to be so trusting, and that a thorough audit will set this right. Riiight?"
"Y-Yes, sir," I said, sinking even lower in my seat.
So at great personal expense, my crack team of PricewaterhouseCoopers auditors worked night and day to compile a full compliance report. Of the three X-Philes tests, the auditors only conducted the first test ("The Simple Validation Test") and the third test ("The MIME-type Test"). As for validating three secondary pages ("The Laziness Test"), I am sorry to report that we simply could not include this metric in the test suite given current budgetary constraints. Look, when these guys are costing $54,000 a week, you have to cut corners somewhere.
- Six former X-Philes (27%) invalid and serving
- Eight former X-Philes (36%) valid but back to serving
- One former X-Phile (5%) invalid but still well-formed and serving up
- Six former X-Philes (27%) dead or hijacked.
- One former X-Phile (5%) hijacked and turned into a porn search engine / linkfarm node, complete with annoying pop-unders.
Which is actually not as bad as I thought... particularly the number of dead and hijacked sites, which seems on the low side.
Over the last year and a half, some X-Philes have been thoughtful enough to inform me about changes in XHTML compliance, and for that, I thank them. I also don't mind it when sites go dark -- that's just inevitable. These folks are all welcome back at any time. As for the folks who deliberately switched back to tag soup without bothering to ping me, well, that's a horse of another color.
I had never planned on doing any maintenance of the X-Philes list, and to be honest, I'm not sure how long the list itself will be around. (I'm pretty slow getting back to people on new submissions already -- a sure sign of growing boredom/indifference on my part.) Nevertheless, it seems like a yearly purge is probably a good idea. I'm not the XHTML Police, but I would like the list to stay somewhat current.
By the way, this morning I got a phone call from Rep. Oxley. After exchanging some pleasantries, he informed me that next year, Senator Paul Sarbanes would be checking in on me.
"Senator Sarbanes is coming here?" I asked.
"That is correct, Evan. And he is most displeased with your apparent lack of site maintenance."
"We shall redouble our efforts," I said.
"I hope so, for your sake. The Senator is not as forgiving as I am." Then the line went dead.
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