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When does a site become authorative?

 12:24 am on Oct 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

This is really for the mods, and maybe not this forum, but I'm stuck trying to figure when a site is deemed "authorative" for the purpose of linking in questions on css and html.

For example, w3schools is listed at w3.org on the "Learning Css" page, and seems to be directly linked by senior members.
However, a site by stu nicholls does not seem to be directly linked although it has some excellent explanations, has been around for quite some time - and is also listed on the same page at w3schools.

Help/clarification would be appreciated.



 2:00 am on Oct 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

Guidelines I stand by in the forums I moderate are as follows:
The site must...
  • Adhere to the rules set forth in our Terms of Service, especially in regard to promotion (this does not just apply to self promotion). Sites with advertisements and products for sale are looked down upon, as well, and may be removed if needed.
  • Have acknowledged accuracy and excellence (be accepted by most authorities that specialize in that topic, or be an authority itself)
  • Be highly reliable. We do not want any broken links in the future.

Ultimately whether a link stays is up to the mods of that particular forum. If you have further questions about why a specific link was removed from your post, then a sticky to the mod that made the edit may be in order to ask for clarification.


 2:40 am on Oct 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

Thanks eelixduppy.

I'm not sure how my post has been interpreted as a back-door whine about having a link removed, but to clarify, I haven't had links removed.

The site used as an example is acknowledged as accurate/excellent by having been listed on the authorative site in the subject area, has been around for some time and long enough to be considered a reliable link by the authority, carries advertising, but only enough to keep a free site afloat, and no more than sites that are already linked direct.

The site is cutting edge, but all work is the authors own, and the reason I am asking the question is that it frequently occurs to me that the explanations/examples would provide a direct and simple answer to a question being asked.

I didn't post a "can I post this link" question in the relevant forums because personal urls are frequently put up as it is - I figured that genuine question had the potential to be re-purposed in deliberate contravention of the TOS/Charter :(

Or would you suggest just approaching each of the mods in the relevant forum to find out whether there is something else about this site I've missed?


 3:49 am on Oct 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

One HUGE reason is reliability that that link will be there in the future. Many authority sites maintain these pages linked to, even if it's a redirect to the more current page. We don't find that nearly as much with people's personal sites, and we must remember that we need Webmaster World to be usable for members now AND in the future. If a link goes dead the whole thread goes dead, defeating our purpose here. So while a site by a particular "non-authoritative" author may be there in the future, we'd rather not take the chance of a thread going sour; besides, 98% of the information regarding a technical topic like HTML and CSS can be found at an mod-accepted authoritative site if you look for it.

Or would you suggest just approaching each of the mods in the relevant forum to find out whether there is something else about this site I've missed?

That would would be something good if you want to investigate a mod's intentions; you are always free to sticky mods on links you are unsure of and they will explain their position either way.


 4:50 am on Oct 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

Thanks again eelixduppy, but I'm not asking for a justification/clarification of the non-linking policy. I am asking when a site becomes authorative enough to be directly linked.

besides, 98% of the information regarding a technical topic like HTML and CSS can be found at an mod-accepted authoritative site if you look for it.

I agree. But I would hazard a guess that a person who knows enough to extract everything they require from the w3 recommendations is unlikely to start too many "I'm new to css" threads here.

Plus, I've just realised that approaching mods for clarification is not useful - other mods view forums and any one of them could decide it isn't OK. Or do mods retain a central list of confirmed authorative links?


 5:12 am on Oct 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

>> I am asking when a site becomes authorative enough to be directly linked.

That's up to the interpretation of the mod and the context in which the link is used. Most mods of the same forum have similar policies when it comes to authoritative sites. Every forum is run differently to cater to the audience, content, etc... To give you the exact, scientific reasoning behind determining whether or not a site is authoritative is something that I cannot do. As I said, it is something that is mod and forum specific so for a particular forum, such as HTML or CSS, you'd have to specifically ask the mods there. Most of the time you'll find that these questions are answered in a Forum's charter; this is one of the reasons why we have them, because there are different rules and policies for each forum.


 6:45 am on Oct 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

When does a site achieve "authority?" When everyone beats a path to their doorstep. I doubt there's a hard and fast rule as regards what makes an "authority" site, though there's probably a hundred different opinions as to that. Interesting question. I'd like to hear a few opinions as to the original question: "I'm stuck trying to figure when a site is deemed "authorative"..." (edited... left off the qualifier for a topic/theme).


 4:57 am on Oct 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

>> other mods view forums and any one of them could decide it isn't OK

the mods that matter most are the specific mods of that forum, if they decide something then it is decided. If there are multiple mods, well, then cc them all. I have comods in a few places and we work together so it shouldn't be an issue when one mod says ok.

if you are just trying to understand the policy in general then maybe this will help

policies are made vague to cover all grey areas and to be useful in scenarios that those policies were not necessarily created for. the real policy around here was pretty much "no links" but we still allowed links. We say only authoritative but we allow links that some would argue are not even close. We allow open source but not if there is a promo nature to it.

if you are looking for the word on a specific url then just ask the forum mod where you want to post it or ask an admin.


 11:46 am on Oct 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

"I'm stuck trying to figure when a site is deemed "authorative"..."

I think it's an unanswerable question. There can be no absolutes, it's a matter of relevance to the topic, and the site's place in the hierarchy of possible sites.

For example, I'd guess that few mods would accept a link to a member's blog on a point of the detailed content of a Google patent; there's thousands of sites with 'the facts'.

But if that same blogger was first to describe (with evidence), a new type of Adsense ad, then I'd guess the mod would think first before deleting (if it's an ephemeral page, then it may still have to go!).

But I don't see the problem; once you've been here for a while, you'll know where the line is, approximately, and if in doubt, then ad ("Mod: I wasn't sure about this link, please remove if it's inappropriate").

If it stays, it stays, if it goes, it goes. If it matters too much, you need to ask yourself why you are obsessing over a link - chances are you subconsciously wanted to promote it ;)


 12:40 pm on Oct 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

>>I'm stuck trying to figure when a site is deemed "authorative"

IMHO, and obviously from the perspective of a Code Forum Mod (as opposed to a news forum) it's one which reports the facts, and it helps if there is clear cut free/non necessarily pretty tutorials, which explain and follow W3C guidelines. I also have to remember that no matter how pretty and clever a site may be, WE are a discussion forum we are not simply a FREE support forum for other (possibly WebmasterWorld members) sites!

It's not one, no matter how popular or cool, that just puts up pretty looking demos without explaining how, nor one which charges for support of their code, nor one whos cutting edge techniques rely on browser/Doctype quirks.
There are lot of WebmasterWorld members here who willingly participate and share their code/knowledge without promoting their own sites, Indeed they sometimes just promote their own thoughts and gain by learning something they hadn't thought of themselves (and that's not specific to the code forums).

Those "cutting edge" sites are excellent for people who want to copy/paste/learn for themselves, as the technique may or may not become a standard in times to come.

I, as a mod, try never to choose one demo site over another because a lot of WebmasterWorld members might have one, that's the "erring on the side of caution" bit that's in the TOS. - promote one & you open the floodgates to having to promote them all, and not all of them may be as technically correct as the next, and we are also not a critique forum ;)

WebmasterWorld is a discussion forum, which admittedly doesn't always work too well in the code forums as we do a lot of standard code help posts, but, here, within our community, we can discuss new techniques, form our own opinions of them, or help others understand how the technique works or might work, in fact we have also been known to discuss our way to discoveries of our own ;) - it's how we, as a community, learn and grow!

copy/paste from other sites style learning is highly recommended, but a straight copy/paste question from a demo site is usually, in my experience anyway, no more than an "I pasted this and it doesn't work in my site, why?" (fix my site for free) question which is against charter policy and sometimes it's even against the original code owners Terms (and seeing as you mentioned Stu Nicholls see the Terms in his code ;)).

The "We prefer to help by educating" bit that is in our forum charter is the key to "help discussions" forming, if you can't make some of the effort yourself then a professional (as many members here are) will not be quite so willing to give their time to help.. i.e. I would not be here (as a member) if I was solely helping people "fix their site" all the time because all I would actually be doing then would be simply debugging someone else's code for free, and getting nothing back from my peers, and IMHO that's not community helping each other.

I'm afraid experimental/cutting edge sites often fall into that category whether I personally like them or learn from their techniques or not. We are here as our own community to discuss (see the tagline for WebmasterWorld!) and learn for ourselves not to promote any particular member's site.

Now, as a WebmasterWorld member (not mod), having said all that I often feel the same frustrations as you do as I love finding sites which beautifully demonstrate their owners techniques/findings/methods, and I want to share them, tell the world :) but I'm also very aware that as browser support improves, as it steadily has.. there may come a time when the technique is able to be reproduced using a W3C recommended or a simpler method, or indeed become unnecessary altogether (think PIE and the browser bug hacks!)

That's too much information, but I hope you can see that a lot of thought goes into it (as I'm sure is the case in every forum at WebmasterWorld, and what makes it so open a place to discuss matters!) -

so I think I would simply sum it up as we don't do politics :)

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