Web Advocacy

Background

Since 2000 or so, I've found myself drawn into two related areas of Internet advocacy: web standards and alternative web browsers.

It started when I was using Opera, then later Mozilla as my main web browser. As much as I liked some of the things that made their way into Internet Explorer—I started experimenting with CSS when IE3 came out, long before Netscape added even basic support—I was bitterly disappointed in the way they wiped Netscape out of the picture, using sneaky tricks instead of competing on merit.

So I used Opera, then pre-release versions of Mozilla, then a Mozilla-based browser called Galeon. That meant that web standards were in my own self-interest. As long as I had chosen an alternative browser, I wanted the web to remain open to it. Instead I found sites that insisted I "upgrade" to Netscape 6, even when the browser I was using was based on a newer, more stable, more capable version of the same engine.

I got more involved in 2004 as Firefox ramped up to its 1.0 release. There was a sense of excitement as Firefox managed to make the first gains against Internet Explorer's marketshare in years, and I started putting "Get Firefox" buttons on my personal website.

Things took another turn in 2005 as flame wars broke out between Opera advocates and Firefox advocates. The arguments were generally little more than "I had it first!" "No you didn't!" and served only to drive a wedge between users who, in my view, should have been cooperating against the real enemy: dominance by Internet Explorer. So I launched the Alternative Browser Alliance, and I got more involved with Opera.

I've come to the conclusion that the web needs competition. Real competition, not one dominant browser and a bunch of hangers-on. A web dominated by Firefox would certainly be more open than a web dominated by IE, but it would still be a one-target world for malware authors. And several browsers competing guarantees that they keep improving.

Activities

Selected Writings

Advocacy How-To

Web Development

Browser War Commentary

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Kelson Vibber

W3C Valid HTML · W3C Valid CSS · W3C WAI Level A · Get Firefox · Get Opera · Alternative Browser Alliance

Alternative Browser Alliance