Last week, Opera released the results of a survey conducted using its MAMA (Metadata Analysis and Mining Application) search engine.

The engine, which currently indexes 3.5m web pages, is designed to track "how web pages are structured."

One of the key results from the survey was the fact that only 4.13% of the URLs MAMA indexed were validated using the W3C markup validator and only approximately 50% of websites displaying the W3C validation badges actually passed W3C validation.

Most interestingly, Opera found that most of the programs and content management systems often used to develop/publish websites generally fail to produce code that will validate.

According to Opera, web pages created with Microsoft FrontPage validated a paltry 0.55% of the time. Even more highly-regarded programs such as Adobe Dreamweaver didn't fare very well - only 3.44% of its pages passed W3C validation.

The same dynamic was true for popular content management systems - WordPress pages validated only 9% of the time while Joomla pages validated only 6.45% of the time.

The authors of the MAMA study come to the conclusion:

"The most obvious thing to take away from the entirety of the MAMA research is that people are BAD at this 'HTML thing'. Improper tag nesting is rampant, and misspelled or misplaced element and attribute names happen all the time. It is very easy to make silly, casual mistakes—we all make them. Validation of Web pages would expose all these types of simple (and avoidable) errors in moments."

Of course, the authors point out that part of the difficulty in producing W3C compliant markup is that standards are evolving so rapidly and it's hard to keep up.

It's easy for most of us to throw in the towel on standards compliance, especially when one notes that MAMA found that most of the Alexa 500 (some of the most popular websites in the world) failed to pass W3C validation.

This might lead us to ask, "Why does it really matter?"

But as internet content is increasingly consumed on other devices, such as mobile phones, valid markup becomes increasingly important to ensure a satisfactory user experience and accessibility across all of these devices.

The MAMA markup validation report makes for an interesting read and it highlights the challenges that online businesses, web developers and internet users face as the technologies we employ on (and in the creation of) web pages make standards compliance an even more challenging task.

For those who run websites and for those who develop them, be sure to check out my past list of web-based HTML and CSS validation tools that can help make it easier to join the ranks of the compliant.


Published 20 October, 2008 by Patrick Oak

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Comments (4)


Leyton Jay

Validation is becoming increasingly important as the wide variety of browsers and APIs that use the internet grows wider and more diverse everyday.

By obeying web standards we can ensure accessibility and indexability for everyone; from users on mobile phones and blackberries to blind surfers on desktops or even Google (the biggest blind user there is).

When selecting a wordpress theme, always look for xhtml and css compliant themes, but still double and triple check the output after installation.

By having the appropriate plugins installed onto which ever browser you develop in (I suggest Firefox and certainly NOT Internet Explorer) you can validate every single page you look at. Thats a good habit to get into.

almost 10 years ago


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Even more highly-regarded programs such as Adobe Dreamweaver didn't fare very well - only 3.44% of its pages passed W3C validation.The same dynamic was true for popular content management systems - WordPress pages validated only 9% of the time while Joomla pages validated only 6.45% of the time.Really i am impressed from this post....the person who create this post it was a great human..thanks for shared this with us.i found this informative and interesting blog so i think so its very useful and knowledge able.I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well. In fact your creative writing abilities has inspired me.Really the blogging is spreading its wings rapidly. Your write up is  fine example of it ..

about 9 years ago


Luka Ramishvili

Hey, Great article, but I wanted to say that we shouldn't measure sites generated by e.g. Dreamweaver or other Software. 99% of the time developers add hand-written markup to produced code, so its impossible to say it was DW or the developer itself who wrote faulty code.

over 8 years ago


Luka Ramishvili

and good job spammers, good idea to copy the article's content as a message, then add generated text to it, so google and spam filters dont suspect anything.

and good job admins and author, for not viewing feedback since 19th may 09 =))

anyways, great article, keep writing. blogging has spread its wings rapidly, i agree to the spam-bot above =))

over 8 years ago

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