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I know they're not the best resource out there, but when I want to provide a quick link on how a tag is used, they're an excellent resource. I recently used an alternative but damn if it isn't harder to parse than the matching W3Schools link for the same tag.

I know we have a lot of hate for W3Schools. Am I going to be downvoted for using an accurate and helpful link with a proper explanation of the link's content if it happens to be from W3Schools?

Short of creating my own wiki with working examples and a full appendix of HTML tags and attributes "just use a better link" isn't always a workable solution.

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"I know we have a lot of hate for W3Schools. Am I going to be downvoted for using an accurate and helpful link [...] from W3Schools?" Signs point to yes. –  Won't Jan 23 '12 at 16:10
Ooh... your alternative is much worse. Prefix your Google searches with mdn and you'll get good stuff like this. –  minitech Jan 23 '12 at 16:26
@minitech "reference to undefined name 'syntax' Exception of type 'MindTouch.Deki.Script.Runtime.DekiScriptUndefinedNameException' was thrown. (click for details)" :| On closer inspection all example sections I tried are broken in MDN. MDN in general is okay but also never comes up on top in search results so I often forget about it. –  Ben Brocka Jan 23 '12 at 16:29
@BenBrocka: Well, it's not usually like that :) –  minitech Jan 23 '12 at 16:51
@BoltClock'saUnicorn That's a perfect example of what I had in my mind when I wrote my answer! You provided a quality answer (with an example and brief explanation). Some people might downvote on sight because of the w3schools reference, but the majority will just upvote the good content of your post. –  jadarnel27 Jan 23 '12 at 17:19

5 Answers 5

up vote 15 down vote accepted

"...with a proper explanation of the link's content..." - I would not downvote it in the circumstances you've described. I make a habit of providing links with most of my answers, and I think W3Schools mostly has very simple explanations (which is helpful for new programmers and whatnot).

That being said, I think some people would downvote on sight anything that they noticed referring people to W3Schools, regardless of context / correctness.

In the end, I think that as long as your post is good in general (which is what you describe), you will not lose much for linking to w3schools - the number of "downvote on sight" people would be outweighed by the people upvoting a quality post (in my opinion, anyway).

(There was a somewhat similar / related discussion recently about being downvoted for not pointing out SQL injection vulnerabilites in other people's code.)

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I have been, and in retrospect, I deserved it. Link to MDN.

(note that I'm not saying you should be downvoted, and I would up vote you if I saw it, and the link was helpful, I'm just saying...don't be surprised.)

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+1 for MDN. Also, your unclosed parenthesis looks lonely (and possibly in pain) –  jadarnel27 Jan 23 '12 at 15:40
@jadarnel27 - ha - pain ameliorated, and +1 to you for the laugh. –  Adam Rackis Jan 23 '12 at 15:42
I'd use MDN if their examples weren't broken, pages weren't missing and the search weren't terrible. I love the idea but MDN is currently inferior. –  Ben Brocka Jan 23 '12 at 16:34
developer.mozilla.org/en/HTML is also a good resource. –  Kevin Vermeer Jan 23 '12 at 17:13
+1, although usually I alert the answerer to how terrible W3Schools is. If they don't change it then I start firing downvotes their way –  ɹǝʞɐʇıɥʍ ʍǝɹpuɐ Jan 23 '12 at 17:57
@Andrew - do yoy know what OP is talking about in the comment above, about MDN having broken examples, missing pages, etc? –  Adam Rackis Jan 23 '12 at 18:00
@AdamRackis: I think the examples on the pages are broken and nothing more (I see an exception in red where the example should be). I would still rather link to a broken MDN page than an incorrect, unclear, or misleading W3Schools one, but that's just me –  ɹǝʞɐʇıɥʍ ʍǝɹpuɐ Jan 23 '12 at 18:03
Ironically most people don't (ever) actually point out what's wrong with a W3Schools link in my experience. At best you get a W3Fools link and no clarification on what is wrong. I think fallaciously implying generally correct information is the worse problem. Their attribute lists and examples for HTML tags are quite accurate. –  Ben Brocka Jan 23 '12 at 20:52
@Ben - like I said, I would upvote a W3Schools link if the content in it was correct. I think the point of the W3Fools links is to point out that there is much, much, much wrong with the info there, and that you should avoid using it, even if a page here and there might be right. –  Adam Rackis Jan 23 '12 at 21:08

There is a probability of .651234635 that you wil get a downvote. In other words, there's a crowd of voters out there, and some of them hate W3Schools with the power of a thousand suns. If one of them spots your answer, 'blam.'

No amount of discussion here will change this.

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Is that the probability of receiving exactly one downvote, the probability of receiving at least one downvote, or the expected number of downvotes? Made-up statistics are all very well, but one should be clear about what one is making up. –  Charles Stewart Mar 13 '12 at 11:18

Well, let's take a look! Here's my query for that. The lowest-voted answers are:

And it continues. It looks like you won't ever get more than 2 downvotes for just linking to or mentioning W3Schools, and you can always fix it later and request that people remove their downvotes if it actually becomes a problem. You shouldn't have trouble notifying people because they always want to add a comment about W3Schools.

So avoid mentioning W3Schools specifically, make sure the information you link to is accurate, provide a citation inside your answer... then ditch W3Schools and link to a better source ;)

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+1. Some of the comments on those W3Schools links are pretty funny :) –  Adam Rackis Jan 23 '12 at 17:06
Also stackoverflow.com/questions/5045352/… (and my answer's revisions) –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Jan 23 '12 at 17:11
+1 for using science. I note the bad ones seem to always be related to their javascript advice...is that particularly bad? I've never had trouble with their HTML tag info, even for HTML5 stuff. –  Ben Brocka Jan 23 '12 at 17:16
@BenBrocka: Yes, their JavaScript advice is particularly bad. They don't use semicolons, for example. I think the problems in the tag references are limited to wrong attribute lists and browser compatibility. See w3fools.com. –  minitech Jan 23 '12 at 17:23
@BenBrocka: Actually, I think it might be the tutorials that are problematic. –  minitech Jan 23 '12 at 17:25

Am I going to be downvoted for using an accurate and helpful link with a proper explanation of the link's content if it happens to be from W3Schools?

You might, but I doubt it. A proper explanation will go a long way toward persuading people that you actually know what you're talking about and that the content on the page you linked to is good, despite the source. At any rate, you should get more upvotes than downvotes on a good answer, regardless of where you link to.

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