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[This is kluge.]Where some ideas are stranger than others...

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The Moonspeaker:
Where Some Ideas Are Stranger Than Others...

Flash From the Past: Raven's Website Award

There are not too many older bits of the original Moonspeaker around these days, between changes in web standards and following up on more interesting topics. The Raven's Website Award is one of them, as much for its excellent representation of early graphic design on the web as in honour of its creator and founder, whose online handle was "the Raven." Hopefully this person is still online, happily building websites by hand, chronicling their diverse musical, pop culture and games interests. Their original website vanished away with GeoCities, but is still at least partially viewable on the internet archive. Visitors will be treated to what was even for that time a "rule-breaking" colour combination of pale colours on a black background, some early javascript animations, and the fierce table rustling that many early webmasters used to try to get text to sit in the right places on the screen. In this period unfortunate software packages like frontpage or the ostensibly WYSIWIG creations of netscape composer meant that many people were building sites and not understanding at all how to code them. This saddled them in turn with monstrous piles of ever more confusing spaghetti code, and as I learned on a contract to modernize an older site, frontpage was great at generating a hundred or more mini gif images to create backgrounds and banners that could easily have been coded in a couple of background settings. Today I do wonder if there was a cynical drive to obfuscate the code so that people would feel it would be hopelessly complicated to learn.

Apparently the Raven shared some of this unease, and accordingly decided to do their part to encourage people who were building their websites by hand by creating this award. This was not an unrealistic plan at the time, with webrings still being in common use and the web generally was a surprisingly grass roots-run place in the earlier days. The Raven's award criteria are intriguing. Quoting from an 6 august 2004 page capture, they are as follows. Note that "Ann O'Nymous" would typically be replaced on first page load via a javascript that requested the vistor's name. As it happens, the Moonspeaker was not submitted for this award, it apparently had the good fortune to turn up in the course of the Raven's web browsing.

So Ann O'Nymous, you wanna win my award eh?

Let's see if you have what it takes shall we?

  1. A good sense of humor?
  2. Do you have an open mind?
  3. Is your site unique and original?
  4. Do you know how hand-code HTML?
  5. Porn is ugly and so is hate, do you agree with me?
  6. Are you the web-master/mistress of your site?
  7. Are you over 18?
  8. Are the only pop-up adds on your site from your free providor?
  9. Do your pages load quickly?
  10. Is your grammar, punctuation and spelling acceptable?
  11. Do your pages work in Netscape and Explorer?
  12. Do you have minimal animation and blinking text?
  13. Do all your links and graphics work?
  14. Do you update your site often?

So then Ann O'Nymous, if you answered yes to the above, I'll take a look at your site. I am self taught, and I do not use programs such as Pagemill, or Frontpage, I hand-code HTML from scratch, and this is what I want to see in a site. Even though design and layout require skill, the skill of writing code is something too few of us posses, and I want to reward it. I also want to reward a fun, entertaining web-site, that is not merely links, and add's and fluff. I'm not saying you can't use a page building program, just that it should not be your only tool. God gave you a brain, so use it.

I have a bawdy sense of humor, and am a smartass, however, I will not consider rude, hate filled sites, or pornography. I want your site to either touch me, or make me laugh genuinely, I want it to be something that I will remember, and give an award to.

I will look at each submission carefully, and I will award as I see fit based on the above criteria, and overall impression. I am not 'awarding' this award, unless I believe you deserve it. If you don't get it, it does not mean your site 'sucks', it just means it does not fit within my criteria. I am also a bit of a hardass, so don't wilt too easily around me, I am not a very sympathetic person when it comes to people who can't take a few knocks.

Only one submission per site is allowed, and in the submission you send me there must be this magic word Kensington, to show me that you have read my criteria. No e-mail or other notice will be sent upon receipt of your submission, sorry I live in the real world and I don't have that kind of time for being online. Use the form below to send me your submission, I should get back to the winners within a two to six weeks at most. If you don't hear from me within that time frame, you did not win. Don't take it too hard, try for another award someplace else, you'll eventually get one, so don't worry about it...

Good luck Ann O'Nymous, and I am glad you got this far in my site.


The Raven

As we can see here, the Raven was quite lighthearted about this, and made the all too often lost point that yes, while page design and page coding are two different skills, they are hardly exclusive. Unfortunately that point seems very much lost nowadays, as more and more websites literally come up blank with javascript turned off, even when they are not catalogues or shopping sites where just in time rendering makes total sense. (So far the worst culprits in my experience for this are sites from squarespace, wix, and a surprising number of wordpress instances.) The odd thing is, back in the days when the Raven was busy coding and observing other websites, it was a commonplace to provide an alternative text-only site when its default version was already too image or javascript(!!!!) loaded for most people to view comfortably. Perhaps this practice went out with the general but far from complete replacement of dial-up with cable modems and improved web standards. It really is a shame, because that was also a great way to provide a useable alternative for those with vision impairments when the site had a black background-light text combination. To this day there is still very little good information about how best to account for website accessibility for visitors living with disabilities, apart from loud scoldings and effectively a demand that everyone use the same wordpress template. There are great ways to make accessibility happen using ID tags and judicious application of device identifiers via css though.

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Last Modified: Monday, January 02, 2023 00:53:45