The very Best of the “A List Apart” Summer Reading Issue 2012

A List Apart published a Summer Reading Issue containing 26 articles from their back catalog of 355 ALA issues. Remember that guys are publishing their vision of the web since beginning 1999!

The following selection contains only a few of the 26 articles from that summer reading issue list, it’s my fastly picked list of personal favorits:

  1. A Dao of Web Design — John Allsopp (ALA 58, 2000)
  2. Good Designers Redesign, Great Designers Realign — Cameron Moll (ALA 206, 2005)
  3. Web Standards for E-books — Joe Clark (ALA 302, 2010)
  4. Fluid Grids — Ethan Marcotte (ALA 279, 2009)
  5. Responsive Web Design — Ethan Marcotte (ALA 306, 2010)
  6. On Web Typography — Jason Santa Maria (ALA 296, 2009)
  7. More Meaningful Typography — Tim Brown (ALA 327, 2011)
  8. The Discipline of Content Strategy — Kristina Halvorson (ALA 274, 2008)
  9. The Wisdom of Community — Derek Powazek (ALA 283, 2009)

Pinterest: Do you break web standards because you are a recent hype?

Currently Pinterest is one of the better known curating websites, users can curate images and pictures there, pinning them on their user profile site, organizing it via channels, combined with short or no comments. As this is not just a link to a image, this process raised a lot of copyright discussions and legal problems. Pinterest gives you the chance to prevent the pinning of your images via an HTML meta tag. What is wrong with that?

The problem

The usage of Pinterest (and other image curation services) fires up a lot of legal problems: using images you don’t have the right to use. People infringe both, copyrights and exploitation rights. It’s not just that they do not have the right to use the images, they have to give some legal rights to Pinterest that they can publish all that stuff on all their channels. So people give away rights they do not own. But I’m not a lawyer and I don’t care about this. Second, Pinterest was criticized because of this situation, and that they might invite their users to infringe other peoples right, just because pinning the images is so easy.

The solution

In February Pinterest added a mechanism how right owners can get opt out their images. I just found it out recently that they introduced a new meta tag:

What if I don’t want images from my site to be pinned?

We have a small piece of code you can add to the head of any page on your site:

<meta name="pinterest" content="nopin" />

When a user tries to pin from your site, they will see this message: “This site doesn’t allow pinning to Pinterest. Please contact the owner with any questions. Thanks for visiting!”

(Pinterest Getting Started)

This raises the question if already aggregated content will be removed from the Pinterest index if a website owner adds this meta tag, or if just new content cannot be pinned. It even does not clear the situation: no website owner can be forced to use special syntax just to help only one web service not to infringe rights.

Are you nuts?

Is Pinterest so narcisstic that they think they could have their own meta tag? If other service providers go the same way we need to use a dozen of similar meta tags soon, one tag for each service.

I guess that they have guys with technical knowledge, at least I hope it. They should know about all the other processes how to check if a resource can be aggregated:

I know, some of that stuff was developed to resolve legal problems with search engines but nowadays it is widely used and vendor independent. Pinterest should just tell their crawler name, and respecting rules in robots.txt, additionally they could:

  • request the image URL for another content type, maybe there is used content negotiation what leads to meta data with license information
  • check the outer document for RDF and RDFa snippets

I’m aware that only a few sites are already using those tech but Pinterest could have take the pressure as opportunity to inform people about possibilities, thinking together about a good solution what would work, even for other web services. Pinterest, curators and content/website owners would have been profited from this discussion.

But we just got a lousy <meta name="pinterest" content="nopin" />.

That is how people and companies breaking the web, and I really would like to know why. Are you too stupid, or too good to follow simple standards. I really hope that nobody is forced to use a pinterest meta tag still in 2 years.

"Every time you call a proprietary feature ‘CSS3,’ a kitten dies."

Any -webkit- feature that doesn’t exist in a specification is not CSS3. Yes, they are commonly evangelized as such, but they are not part of CSS at all. This distinction is not nitpicking. It’s important because it encourages certain vendors to circumvent the standards process.

Dear web designers and frontend developers, your “cutting edge” tech is sometimes not cutting edge, often it changes to the contrary and it sucks as much as the blink and marquee elements did.

Lea Verou wrote a wonderful article about web standards and proprietary vendor prefix features:

In our eagerness to use the new bling, we often forget how many people fought in the past decade to enable us to write code without forks and hacks and expect it to work interoperably. […] The proprietary features of today are no better than ActiveX and IE filters. Their only difference is better PR, as we haven’t faced the consequences yet.

Now, head over to List Apart and read Lea’s full article "Every Time You Call a Proprietary Feature ‘CSS3,’ a Kitten Dies."