Smooth operator

Roll Tide Roll

Recently I've been seeing a new site in my referral logs. Silktide is its name, and ranking is its game. From what I can tell, it rates your site on various criteria, including the usual standards-compliance check, as well as a few other points that have me somewhat perplexed. For instance, the main five areas are:

  1. Marketing - How well marketed, and popular the website is.
  2. Design - How well designed and built the website is.
  3. Accessibility - How accessible the website is, to those with disabilities.
  4. Experience - How satisfying the website is likely to be.
  5. Visitor rating - Average user rating for this site's design.

Confusion Begins

Now, some of those make sense to me. User-rating is obviously based on votes from their users. Accessibility could be somewhat automatically checked, but by using Silktide to check other sites, all it really seems to care about is that there are not any tables. I could design a highly un-usable site that would pass that test. For instance, as I pointed out with the most recent version of the W3C's CSS Validator, there's no way of telling how close foreground colors are to background colors.

So, I could have a foreground text color of #FEFEFE (almost pure white) on a white background of #FFF, and as far as either of these automated processes are concerned, this is perfectly accessible. So, try to name the last time you read something written with invisible ink, and needless to say, it's a problem.

Marketing could perhaps just be called "popularity" because I don't recall ever doing any actual "marketing" for my site. As far as I can tell, popularity is simply incoming links from other sources. It would be best to just label it as such, and not mislead people to think they need to adjust their marketing.

The remaining two criteria I have the most issue with - Design and Experience. I do not see how these two very subjective things can be guaged by an automated system. Design seems to be at least partially base on inline images, which would completely miss out on CSS background possibilities. Also, I was unable to ascertain what Experience is directly based on.

Exposing the Truth

I was curious as to how honest these assessments were, so I went ahead and ran the Silktide Sitescore on itself. Not surprisingly, it came up with a near perfect 9.5 score. Not wanting to give it the benefit of the doubt, I also ran the HTML Validator on Silktide, unmasking a slew of HTML 4.01 Transitional errors. Correct me if I'm wrong, but is it not ironic to have a site of this nature still using HTML 4 and nested tables for layout?

So, while I certainly appreciate their assessment of my site, calling it a 10 out of 10 for accessibility, and giving it a strong 8.3 score overall, I don't put much stock in what this site has to say about anything. It's like getting a congradulatory pat on the back from a complete stranger. Deserved or not, you know they cannot know enough to make that appraisal. Don't be fooled. This seems like nothing more than a well-disguised self marketing ploy.