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Monday July 12 2004 at 09:35 GMT

About a year ago, Matthew Somerville announced his accessible Odeon site. Even though Web standards have been around for a while, you still find plenty of sites that only work in one browser, normally Internet Explorer. On a scale of 1 - extremely-short-sighted, this rates a 'apply for your guidedog immediately'. (Why Web standards are important is a whole 'nother post, but you can read a concise summary here.)

Whilst Matthew's site clearly stated that the content was the Odeon's and he was merely re-interpreting what they had out there, Odeon have now got upset by it all, and told him to close his site. As a Firefox user, that means the only thing I see when I visit the Odeon site is a background image. C'est tout.

As you can imagine, there are a bunch of pretty annoyed people out there, following the Odeon's action. Once you've read what happened at Matthew's site, you should mail Luke Vetere and let him know your feelings. Here's what I sent:

-------- Original Message --------
Date: Sun, 11 Jul 2004 13:44:43 +0100
To: LVetere@odeonuk.com
Subject: Accessible Odeon site

Hi Luke

This afternoon I've read about Odeon requesting Matthew Somerville to remove his accessible Odeon site (http://www.dracos.co.uk/odeon/). Whilst I can understand a little of where you are coming from, I largely disagree with your approach. The Odeon site is useless in SO many browsers; viewing in Mozilla Firefox, one of the new breed of standards-compliant and security-tight browsers, the home page shows me a fancy ODEON image. Nothing further is viewable, so your site is completely useless to me and I'm unlikely to visit, based on that. What Matthew did allowed me to get the relevant information and visit your cinemas.

Whilst your site does work in Internet Explorer, I, like many others (http://www.pcworld.com/news/article/0,aid,116848,00.asp), no longer feel safe using software with such a significant number of security holes. If you had requested Matthew to remove his site as your own was now available across platforms and browsers, that would be fair. Asking him to completely remove it with no replacement is quite simply stupid and incredibly short-sighted.

No doubt you will be receiving a fair number of emails from other annoyed ex-users of Matthew's site. If you're wise, you'll take this as a wake-up call that just 'having a site' which works in one browser is no longer what a Web presence is about, even if that browser is *currently* the most popular. Why not employ Matthew's obviously significant skills to build a decent, working site and earn yourself some positive publicity into the bargain?

Regards
Martin

Apparently the story has been picked up by some of the newspapers who backed Matthew when he put his site up, so we should get a better picture of what prompted the change of heart by the Odeon.

[UPDATE at 9.45am]: Jim is feeling the same way too.


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