Things that peeve me on the web

A few things peeve me on the web. One of them is website form validators that do not recognise tlds other than .com, .org or a country tld. These validators seem oblivious to the fact that since 2000 ICANN has been rolling out ‘new’ tlds to take the ‘pressure’ off the .com and .org domains and .info has been active as a tld since 2001.

I chose .info for my domain name partly because my old domain was hijacked and partly because that problem manifested an opportunity for me to rebrand myself on-line with a domain name that related to me and my interests. is a website dedicated to information about OBrienD (me) and where OBrienD can discuss topics relating to Information Quality and Information Management (Info).

However I find myself having to fall back on other email addresses such as my gmail or IAIDQ email address when filling out web forms as many validators (often on very reputable and high-profile sites) reject .info as part of an email address, in blissful ignorance of the fact that up to March 2007 there were 4 million .info domains registered with 1.6 million .info websites active (this being one of them).

This is a small but significant information quality problem. The ‘master data’ that is being used to support the validation processes on these sites is incomplete, out of date and inaccurate. Web developers should take the time to verify if the snippets of code they are using to validate email addresses contain all valid TLDs and if not they should update their code. Not doing so results in lost traffic to your site, and in the case of registration forms for e-commerce sites it costs you a sale (or three).

Another thing that peeves me is the use of (or not) of apostrophes in email addresses. Names like O’Donnell and the usual spelling of O’Brien have apostrophes. Some organisations allow them as part of their email addresses (joe.o’connor@thisisnotarealdomain.lie). For some reason however, many CMS platforms, website validators etc. don’t handle this construct particularly well. Indeed I’ve seen some chat forums where ‘experts’ advise people to leave out the apostrophe to avoid problems, even though the apostrophe is perfectly permissable under the relevant RFC standards.

I’ve experienced the problem with Joomla and Community Builder on the IQ Network website which required me to manually work around the issue as I am not a good enough php developer to hack either application to fix the problem in a way that doesn’t cause other problems (such as the apostrophe being displayed back with an escaping backslash – ” \’ “.

On the web you are in a global community. Just because your country/culture doesn’t use apostrophes or accenting characters doesn’t mean that they are not valid. Your code should be built to handle these occurences and to avoid corrupting data. Joe O’Connor’s name (to return to our fictional example) is not Joe O\’Connor. He should not see his name displayed as such on a form. Furthermore it should not be exported as such from a database into other processes.

Likewise, if Joe.O’ decides he wants to register at your site you should make sure you can correctly identify his tld as valid and get his name right.

2 thoughts on “Things that peeve me on the web”

  1. My own pet peeve — sites that require last names to be three characters or more.

    I actually know someone whose last name is just the letter O. Imagine being told by a web form that your name is invalid. Grrrr.

  2. Michelle,

    As a certain white haired gentleman of our acquaintance might say: “This is an example of an information process that fails to meet or exceed the information customer’s expectation”.

    I’m looking forward to meeting up with Larry again at the IAIDQ’s IDQ Conference at the end of the month.

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