I have mentioned before ad nauseam that inverts may be great at teaching your kids every single thing they learn in school, doing your hair, and helping you over the phone with your cable-TV account. But of the many fields we are lousy at – engineering, professional sports, auto repair – Web development must surely lead the list.

On paper, we’re perfect for it. We’re supposed to be smarter, better educated, detail-oriented, more tasteful, and so on, yet the sites we turn out are such shite. The same applies to graphic design, and I don’t understand that, either. Why are fashion designers gay and graphic designers not? (A lot of them seem to be “soft” heterosexualists, metrosexualists, Mormons.) It may have to do with the overriding, if undiscussed, degree of functionalism in Web development and graphic design. We just don’t do functionalism. If we can’t matcha belt to it or dye its hair an off-sienna, we don’t want to waste our time.

But dykes! Well, you’d think this would be just the ticket for process-oriented lesbians, but I guess they’re all too busy getting a Ph.D. in poststructuralist literature or working for wymmynz shelters or the fire department.

In short, standards-compliant Web development is a growth area for our diverse LGBTTQQI2S (sic) communities. The guys would have to break out of the mindset that the computer is solely for surfing gay “dating” sites, and the girls would have to break out of whatever mindset they have about computers (I don’t particularly know or care), but if they’re looking for a job with growth potential, this is it.

Anyway, shall we look at a few representative sites? As you will soon see, even puke comes in every colour of the rainbow.

Failed Redesigns: The Homosexualist Pride® Edition

Outgames, Montreal

It’s the event that broke away from the Gay Games – with, admittedly, good reason. OutGames offers us a site that is without question the worst I’ve seen this year – from a technical or æsthetic standpoint. This piece of shit simply will not shut up: It’s got a countdown ticker and nine content blocks that blink or auto-update.

At this level of accomplishment we expect tables for layout, but do we expect 34 of them? (You’d also expect JavaScript-based menus. Would you expect 12K of JavaScript right on the page, plus another script called remotedly?) How about matching the apparently very gay “font tag” with two stylesheets and a set of numbered classes (.style6, .style19) declared in the head element, which alone accounts for 41K?

I see no semantics whatsoever. Every single item, of any kind, is a table cell. About a dozen out of 66 images have alt texts. This is one of those humdinger sites (where “humdinger” is not a John Waters–style underground slang term for a sexual proclivity) that does nothing right. At all.

If you think I shouldn’t be picking on Outgames because they’re a tiny volunteer organization, think again. They started out with an early nest egg of $3 million from government sources. (Other estimates I’ve read, but can’t put my hands on, peg that number at $15 million.)

Errors (HTML/CSS): 107/unparsable

Gay Games VII, Chicago

All right. If Outgames are the rebels, who’s the old guard? Gay Games VII. (And actually, I covered Gay Games IV in New York in 1994.)

It seems we’re commemorating the quadriennial homosexualist sports extravaganza by allocating ten HTML tables for each instalment of the Gaymes – yes, a full 70 tables for layout on the homepage, one of them centered.

One way in which Chicago must surely catch up to breakaway Montreal is in the use of flashing and pulsing graphical elements. At a mere four, Chicago’s site risks underplaying its image. If you wanted an analogy that stirs the heady broth of cliché, Chicago’s site reminds one of a retired linebacker carefully dressing for success in lamé go-go shorts, platform shoes, halter top, and plaid-flannel overshirt while leaving the jade bracelet, alligator clutchpurse, neon-green boa, bejewelled cat-eye glasses, and auburn beehive wig back home in the tickle trunk.

While I don’t see any kind of semantics anywhere, how long has it been since you produced a code sequence like this one?

<tr><td width="184"><center><span class="bodysmall"></span></center></td></tr></table><span class="bodysmall"><span class="bodysmall">

Eight years? (Never?)

The highlight for me, though, is the tiny, yet altogether hideous, white-on-black sign-language icon hidden at the bottom of the page (just above the credit line for this piece of shit, “Website Powered by Materville Studios”). Apparently the Gaymes organizers have budgeted $90K for sign-language interpretation. While that is surely necessary at a public event, my friends and I could have done your entire site for that much money, and properly.

Errors: 141/8

Federation of Gay Games

For shits and/or giggles, is the Web site of the Federation of Gay Games any better? Nope. It does this weird kind of splash-screen nonsense (also a table for layout) while it tries to figure out which language you want (the only one that works is English – French doesn’t). Then the site sends you to a homepage with:

  1. five tables for layout
  2. <font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" size=2 color="#333333"> instead of heading elements
  3. unrequested popup windows
  4. plain-text press releases stored as PDFs (with no warning that PDFs are what you’re about to load)
  5. more goddamned flashing squares
  6. and 27 validation errors (CSS: two)

The FOGG site, and page metadata, helpfully credit Erich Richter and Roger Brigham for “Web design.”

Pride committees

It’s a wonder that homosexualist pride parades ever happen in the first place, since Pride® committees are typically too busy promoting illegal segregated dyke marches, imposing male/female managerial teams instead of hiring on merit, issuing gag notices to critics that they later ask to be shredded, adding a full set of Scrabble tiles to whatever acronym is in use this year to “inclusively” describe gays, getting rained out, contracting with underhanded promoters that leave shirtless fags shivering outside in queues for oversold warehouse parties, or going bankrupt. Yet they still find the time to use tables for layout and lousy HTML! It’s as if the Stonewall riots Web standards never happened.

  1. Toronto: 14 layout tables, no semantics at all save for p class="mainText", spacer GIFs, two-page newsletters distributed as PDFs, and popup windows. The “Web committee” has these listed members: Angela Kostenko and Pat Vandesompele. Hire someone next time, please, preferably a straight person or somebody otherwise provably qualified. (Errors: 81/2)
  2. New York: Flash intro you have to skip, 13 tables, an attempt at CSS (“Fireworks MX Dreamweaver MX target”; it validates), no semantics except P, spacer GIFs with no alt text. “Site Design By: TechMedia.” (Errors: 70)
  3. Sydney: 23 tables for layout and divitis, unending sequences of nonbreaking spaces, th as a failed heading code, and too goddamned small grey Helvetica type. “Website Powered by| wucci.com” (sic). (Errors: 19/unparsable)

Now, perhaps as an antidote to all this, Ted Drake could document for us just what he and his lads did at Yahoo recently that’s so terrific and super (because I am simply not going to get around to it).

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2006.06.28 14:39. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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