In a stunning reversal of its stated policy, Dutch government last Friday decided to abolish the Web Guidelines and revert to tabled-based layouts. A government spokeswoman declared:
If the stated policy [ie. the Web Guidelines] were to be implemented, thousands of deserving web developers would have been robbed of their daily bread. For a government dedicated to creating more jobs, this is unacceptable.
Web standards will not be outright forbidden; interested parties will be able to buy a special dispensation that will allow them to implement one, or at most two, web standards on their sites. At the time of writing the cost of this dispensation is still under discussion, but it's expected to fall somewhere in the € 10,000 range.
A source close to government explained sub rosa that the recent elevation of Bruce Lawson to a Web Standard has played a major role in the reversal. A high official is rumoured to have stated:
If some bloke from Birmingham can become a Web Standard, how can we continue to trust W3C? I mean, what's next? Andy Clarke? A penguin? Get real! Far better to stop this nonsense now.
The unnamed source added that two months ago government has collectively requested W3C Draft status, but has been refused. After this painful episode, Web standard status being granted to an Englishman didn't sit well with government and caused the Web Guidelines policy to be critically re-reviewed.
Industry spokesmen applaud the decision:
This timely government action will save the industry an estimated € 20 million in conversion costs. Besides, it will tax the environment less. Think of all the tables we will not have to discard.
Web standards advocates are as yet unwilling to comment. On promise of anonymity, one declared:
We will have to study the new policy in detail before committing ourselves to a new course, but right now we're thinking of going into the ice cream business, where strict standards are in place and enforced.
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