Sunday, September 12, 2004

Cymru ar y We

Cymru ar y We (CAYW) is a publicly-funded website (money courtesy of the Welsh Assembly) that claims to be an authoratative guide to reliable websites that have to do with Wales.

Unsuprisingly, the site's difficult to use and the content is patchy. For example, from the English FAQ page here's the HTML behind the email link for people who wish to get in touch with CAYW):

<a href="mailto:">email</a>

Which is no use at all - if you try to take the email link your mail client will pop up with no email address filled in.

The alternative offered is to use the feedback form. Again, the link doesn't work:

http://www.walesontheweb.org/cgi-bin/feedback/en

CAYW seems to be a little less reliable than the websites it lists. Its pages don't validate ( try the FAQ page, or the home page or a random content page) for a variety of reasons, sometimes trivial but sometimes a bit more fundamental, like using the invald target attribute in links (it's invalid in XHTML 1.0 strict, which is what the pages claim to be) so that a new browser window is popped up.

Perhaps the mistakes aren't too awful but they demonstrate the website hasn't been checked properly.

What about the content? The criteria for inclusion seem baffling. For example, the validation page says, Wales on the Web does not provide access to websites that exist purely for commercial reasons but it includes links to Cardiff Airport, Llangollen Canal tours and the website of the Western Mail to name a few. Take one entry in its database, the website of Tinopolis. Tinopolis is the sixth largest independent television production company in Britain (according to its website). It's a commercial organisation. What's it doing on CAYW? Anyone know?

CAYW pushes itself as a validated, authoratative source of links, challenging the rationale behind search engines like Google that build in recommender systems through their ranking algorithms. I think I'd trust Google over three people sitting in the National Library of Wales to do the job properly.

Good use of taxpayers' money? I don't think so.