We are passionate about the web, learning, and craftsmanship. We want you, as web designers and developers, to be successful in your careers. We feel, though, that W3Schools is harming the community with inaccurate information. Like any other authoritative educational resource, W3Schools should both hold itself to, and be held to, the highest standards.
We hope we can illuminate why W3Schools is a troublesome resource, why their faulty information is a detriment to the web, and what you (and they) can do about it.
~ members of the Front-end Dev Community,
W3Schools is trouble
- W3Schools.com is not affiliated with the W3C in any way. Members of the W3C have asked W3Schools to explicitly disavow any connection in the past, and they have refused to do so.
- W3Schools offers certifications whose value is highly debatable… No employers recognize or respect W3Schools certificates. Unlike Microsoft’s MCP or Cisco’s CCC, W3Schools has absolutely no authority over the technologies for which they claim to provide certification. Unlike CompTIA’s ANSI/ISO accredited certifications, W3Schools has no support from governing standards bodies.
- W3Schools.com is slow to update material on its site, and provides no mechanism to allow the community to contribute updates or corrections. In a world where the html5 specitself built by a community effortis growing and gaining speed, outdated and unchanging examples with high visibility are a hinderance to the web.
We believe w3schools is harmful to the web. Web developers deserve better.
Why does it matter?
Bad education hurts.
- Being badly educated hampers your ability to score a good job.
- Inaccurate references slow development and cause costly QA loops.
- Learning key web development idioms slowly or incorrectly puts you years behind your colleagues.
- Adoption of HTML5 by browsers depends on correct usage in the wild, which is hampered by out-of-date or unhelpful example usage.
What should be done
- W3Schools should consider wikifying their content so the community could self-correct and keep the information up-to-date. Previously, they did not even have a mechanism for submitting corrections. They now have a tiny "REPORT ERROR" link in their footer. We should use it liberally and see how responsive they are to inaccuracies.
- You should learn from (and recommend) these more reputable sources:
- WebPlatform.org is an open community of developers building resources for a better web, regardless of brand, browser or platform.
- Opera Web Standards Curriculum covers the basics of web standards-based design in HTML and CSS.
- The W3C, itself, has a wiki-based general Learn page as well as an HTML element reference.
The MDN is also a wiki (little known fact), which means we, as knowledgeable web developers, can add or change information so the pages are as effective and comprehensive as possible.
“Build One Yourself”
An oft-repeated mantra in OSS (and a critique we've already received) is that you shouldn't criticise something unless you're willing to put your money where your mouth is and build something better. It's an admirable ethos, but not really applicable here.
W3Schools has put a lot of effort into positioning itself at the top of search results and, despite our efforts (such as the PromoteJS initiative), appears to be there to stay. Other, better resources already exist, but none of them are capable of overcoming the inertia that W3Schools has built up over the years.
We believe it is W3Schools's responsibility to disseminate accurate information—and if they refuse, we hope that this document will help dissuade others from promoting or linking to W3Schools as an authoritative source of information.
From W3Schools's own footer…
We do not warrant the correctness of [W3Schools] content. The risk from using it lies entirely with the user.
We couldn't put it much better ourselves.
The Road Ahead
- To filter out w3schools from your searches, add
-w3schools. Meanwhile, to get results from the Mozilla Dev Network, just prepend
- Spread this message. If you spot someone using or referencing w3schools.com on blog comments, stackoverflow, etc... Send them our way.
- Accelerate your education by learning from (and contributing to) the fine resources mentioned above.
- Always keep pushing yourself to learn and create. Deliver delight. Excel in your craft.