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Answers to Frequently Received E-Mails

I probably don't get as much e-mail as does Zeldman, but I get a lot—typically a few hundred each day, with at least a dozen of those messages meant for me personally. It became enough that, at the beginning of 2004, I finally broke down and wrote this document in the hopes of reducing the volume from hopelessly overwhelming down to dishearteningly heavy. With any luck, the answer I would have sent to you is in here somewhere. If not, feel free to send me mail... but if I don't answer, please accept my apology in advance.

This file was most recently updated on Saturday, 5 February 2005.

Can I give you money?

Well, that's awfully kind of you! Rather than give it away, you can always hire me in a consulting or training capacity. Pop on over to the Complex Spiral Consulting site, get a look at the services I offer, and get in touch.

I really like the meyerweb design. Can I use it on my site?

In general, the styles are freely available, so you can feel free to copy the CSS files. The masthead images, however, are copyrighted and are not available for re-use.

If you have copies of the old designs, you can still use them, but not those images which are indicated as being under copyright. So if you want to copy the "Natural" theme's CSS and replace the hummingbird and butterfly (which are copyrighted) with images of your own, for example, then go for it. I intend to make examples of the old designs available online in the near future so that authors can continue to study and use them.

There is an an important caveat: meyerweb designs may not be sold. You can certainly use my designs to learn about CSS, write your own styles, and sell them. Nothing wrong with that—actually, I encourage it. It is expressly forbidden, however, to sell or resell any of the designs from this site without my express written permission. Besides, doing it is likely to land you on Pirated Sites—it's nearly happened a few times already.

If you do use one of my designs, then giving me credit (either as a link or as a comment in the CSS) is always appreciated, but not actually required. Although pointing back to here as part of the credit might help you ward off accusations of design piracy.

I have a question about how to use CSS.

I sincerely wish I could answer everyone's CSS questions. Once upon I time, I could and I did, but that hasn't been true since the beginning of 2003. When our daughter arrived at the end of 2003, what available time I had left all but vanished. So I'm afraid I'm not likely to be able to answer you (although I do still read everything, and particularly intriguing messages might trigger a response).

If you haven't already found it, a great place to ask such questions is the mailing list css-discuss, which has a lot of very helpful people who will often answer within a few hours, sometimes in amazing detail. It is a fairly high-volume list, averaging about 50 messages per day to over 3,300 subscribers (as of the end of 2003), but it can be a great help to anyone trying to learn and use CSS. There is a broad mix of skill levels, from beginner to advanced, and discussion at all levels is encouraged.

If you're looking for a mailing list that focuses on beginners to the whole CSS thing, than you should definitely look into css-foundations. It's run by John Allsopp, the man who wrote Style Master, makes available the House of Style (not to be confused with the CSS House), and was a co-founder of css-discuss.

For those who prefer NNTP communities, I'm aware of the following groups:

In general, I'm more likely to answer questions posted in public forums, since it allows me to share information with many people at once.

Hey, you didn't mention my favorite CSS/Web design community. Can you please add it?

I'm sorry, but no; there are too many potential links to add.

I'm already on css-discuss, thank you, but I'm having a problem with the list itself. Make with the fixing!

The best thing to do is send a message to the list owner address. Those messages still come to me, but they get filtered into a separate folder and so I can concentrate on them while managing the list.

I have a question about Eric Meyer on CSS.

Some of the most common questions are answered on the companion Web site. In addition to errata, there are a few projects with author commentary, particularly Project 1. Some of the things to mention:

  • If you're having trouble with the project files themselves, they should unzip cleanly on most Windows systems, although apparently not all. Something about disagreement about line-ending characters. It's been fixed twice, each time fixing the formatting for one rare Windows environment while breaking it for another, so I've given up. Sorry.
  • In Project 1, if you're going to be following along in an editor, the best figure-file to start with is ch0103.html.
  • The voice-family hack described in Project 11 doesn't work in IE6, which illustrates one of the dangers of using CSS hacks. There are other hacks that do work in IE6 and could be used instead. See Hide CSS From Browsers for more information.

If you have a question not answered by the companion site, let me know and I'll try to answer your mail.

What's the status of Cascading Style Sheets: The Definitive Guide?

The second edition is now available! A second edition to the pocket reference is expected to arrive in mid-2004.

I have a cool CSS site / CSS resource I want to show you.

Feel free to share it with me. I'll follow the link when I read your message, and if I find the site particularly appealing it might get a mention in my journal. Another good place to mention your site is in one of the CSS communities I mentioned a while back.

There's something wrong with your site.

If you have a broken link to report on meyerweb, thank you. I'll fix the problem when I finally do read your message, so your efforts won't be in vain either. If you're writing about layout errors, I may or may not do anything about them, depending on the problem and the browser(s) in which it appears.

Your site is totally broken in Netscape 4.x!

No, it isn't: you can still read the content just fine. There simply aren't any presentation styles applied to the content. This was a conscious design decision, and is not a bug, error, or oversight. It may or may not be a mistake, but if it is, it isn't technical in nature.

What's with you using HTML instead of XHTML on the site?

That was also a conscious choice. One of the great strengths of XHTML, from what I can see, is that it tends to encourage valid markup. My HTML validates, so there's very little extra benefit to be gained from converting it all to XHTML, in my opinion. If I ever want to convert my HTML to some arbitrary XML format later, I'll just write the XSLT necessary to make it happen, same as I'd have to for XHTML. The difficulty of processing valid HTML is about the same as processing valid XHTML, in my experience.

Please realize that this isn't a political manifesto or religious declaration; nor is it intended as a criticism of other approaches. I just happen to find HTML is sufficient for my current and future needs. No matter what flavor of HTML you do use, please ensure that your markup validates. That's a far greater show of support for open standards than the use of one (X)HTML version or another.

Is it true that Jeffrey Zeldman is actually you, and you just made him up?

Maybe.

I really just wanted to thank you for something you wrote/did/spoke about.

You're quite welcome. I'm always glad when something I create is of use to another person. Please feel free to send the message—positive feedback is always nice!—but please also understand if I don't respond. After all, if I had time to write back everyone who e-mailed me, I wouldn't have needed to create this document.

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