A List Apart #253 brings the issue of version targeting back into the limelight with opposing-view pieces by Jeremy Keith and Jeffrey Zeldman. (And I love the “Editor’s Choice” on this issue, J. David Eisenberg’s “‘Forgiving’ Browsers Considered Harmful“.)
I’m not going to comment on the views presented; both gentlemen do a fine job. What I do wish to add, or perhaps to restate, is an observation about everyone interested in, and thinking or arguing about, this topic:
We all care about the same thing.
We all want to advance web standards. We all want browsers to improve their support. We all want better and more advanced specifications. We all want to reduce inconsistencies. We all want a better web.
The disagreement is over how best to get there given the situation we face now, as well as how we perceive that current situation. A recurrent metaphor for me is that we’re a large group of pioneers trying to chart the best course through an unknown country, and there is disagreement on which route entails the least risk to the whole group. Cross the desert or the mountains? Traverse a swampy delta or a hilly forest? Move through this valley or that one?
Sometimes what binds us is strong enough that the few differences seem sharper by comparison. That shouldn’t keep us from remembering what we have in common, and the importance of that commonality.