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The BLINK-Free Home Page

JCR Design and Consulting
proudly presents
[<BLINK>-Free Logo]

The <BLINK>-Free Home Page

Dedicated to the Ridicule and Suppression
of the Excruciatingly Lame <BLINK> HTML Tag.

Accesses to this site since 2/26/96: Visit Counter (Counter provided by Web Counter )


Unless you have been living under a rock, only browsing the Web with Lynx, or both, you have no doubt seen many implementations of this most useless of all tags.

Few things are so irritating. Perception experiments have shown that people are very sensitive to motion, including blinking, in the periphery of their visual field. It follows that blinking text on a Web page can only serve to annoy the reader and distract them from whatever else might be on the page.

Please note that, even though Netscape brought this monster into the world, I don't entirely blame them for the fact that people actually use it. Netscape has introduced quite a few proprietary HTML extensions, and many of them serve very useful purposes.

This page is primarily directed at Web page authors, especially those who are currently using the <BLINK> tag, which is where the real blame lies. Our mission is to get you to see the error of your ways and repent. Then you can hold your head high, and proudly proclaim yourself <BLINK>-Free.

This page assumes that the goal of Web page authors is to attract readers to their site. If your goal is to irritate and repel readers, then, by all means, use the <BLINK> tag all you want.

The <BLINK>-Free FAQ

Q: What is the <BLINK> tag?
A: The <BLINK> tag is a Netscape extension to HTML that causes text displayed on a modern computer workstation, using the latest multimedia technology, to behave exactly like text on an early 1970s dumb terminal.
Q: Why shouldn't I use <BLINK>?
A: The very short answer is, it is irritating.
Q: But I think <BLINK> is effective, because it draws attention to the blinking item.
A: Even if it does work initially, it quickly becomes tiresome to the eye. There are few things as annoying as something blinking in your peripheral vision while you are trying to read something else.
Q: Is there ever a time when it is OK to use <BLINK>?
A: No.
Q: Never?
A: Well, OK, perhaps in very, very extreme circumstances.
Q: What could possibly be extreme enough to justify use of the dreaded <BLINK> tag?
A: I recommend using the following three-step analysis:
  1. Is anyone likely to be killed if I don't use <BLINK>?
  2. Am I likely to be fired if I don't use <BLINK>?
  3. Will my staunch refusal to use <BLINK> cause the world to end prematurely?

If you cannot answer "yes" to at least one of these questions, use of <BLINK> is not recommended.

Q: Hey, wait a minute--no one would ever meet those criteria!
A: Not true! Imagine you were the Webmaster for a company that writes the software that controls nuclear power plants. On February 25 of a leap year, your company discovers a bug in the latest version of the software that, on February 29, will cause a nuclear melt-down, killing anyone within 25 miles of all plants involved.

Your manager wants you the post the software update on your Web page, and stresses that it is very important that visitors to the page waste no time in finding it. I feel that use of the <BLINK> tag might be justified in this instance, because it meets criteria 1 and 2.

Of course, the truly wise Web-page designer would simply make the update the only item on the home page.

Q: Well, then, what can I use instead of <BLINK>?
A: Try using some of the more subtle and less distracting tags, like emphasis, strong emphasis, font color, or even
changing the font size or
New! using a graphic to draw attention.

Or try setting an important phrase off by itself, centered.

There are also other design techniques you can use to draw attention to important information, but that is beyond the scope of this page. More information is available at these sites.

Q: How can I skewer <BLINK> on my own Web page without making the whole page blink?
A: You have to use &lt;BLINK&gt; to display it with the angle brackets but keep <BLINK> neutered.

Top Ten Reasons to Make Your Pages <BLINK>-Free

  1. It is bad for the environment. The extra energy required to flash the phosphors means the electric company has to burn more fossil fuel.
  2. It can cause seizures in photosensitive epileptics, exposing you to expensive lawsuits.
  3. Removing <BLINK> tags instantly improves the look of your Web page by at least an order of magnitude.
  4. Even Netscape doesn't use <BLINK> on their own home page.
  5. Reader's vomit on the screen may clash with the carefully-designed color scheme of your site.
  6. No "Best Site of the X" winners use <BLINK>.
  7. Lovingly-written email from net.kooks, demanding <BLINK>ing text and bigger advertisements.
  8. That <BLINK> aroma clings to your clothing and repels family members, friends, co-workers, and potential dates.
  9. It gives more control to the browser if you just use the <HEINOUS> </HEINOUS> tags.
  10. <BLINK> sucks.

Psychology of the <BLINK>

If it's so lame, why do so many people use <BLINK>? The <BLINK> tag allows people to put a primitive sort of animation on their Web pages with very little effort. This is, of course, appealing. But, in Web pages, like in all designing and writing, you must consider your audience. And your audience is getting a headache from all that blinking.

There is a similarity between the use of <BLINK> at this early time in the Web's history and the use of many fonts in the early days of the Macintosh. For the first time, people could use a variety of fonts and type sizes in their printed documents, and they sure did! You would see documents with over 20 different fonts on a single page, in a wide variety of sizes. It looked horrible. After the technology matured a bit, and people using it became more familiar with the techniques of the traditional arts of typography and page-layout, things calmed down a bit, and documents started looking a whole lot better. (An excellent little book on these techniques, by the way, is The Mac is Not a Typewriter, by Robin Williams (no she's not the actor) [Peachpit Press]) In the same way, I expect that the use of <BLINK>, and overly cluttered and confused Web pages in general, will fade as people become more familiar with the technology and as the technology becomes easier to use. Our goal is to bring that about as soon as possible, starting with the elimination of <BLINK>.

How to Make Your Web Site <BLINK>-Free

Well, obviously, you can simply not use any <BLINK> tags anywhere on your page. This is the most subtle statement of all, and it is also very effective. Your page will look better than any page with blinking text.

If you use <BLINK> tags, get rid of them. The design of your page can only improve.

If you want to make a slightly more strident statement, feel free to copy any of the icons below for use on your own pages:

<BLINK>-Free Logo blinkfreesmall.jpeg (JPEG format, about 14K)

<BLINK>-Free Logo blinkfreesmall.gif (GIF format, about 16K)

<BLINK>-Free Logo blinkfreeblack.gif (GIF format, about 9.5K)

I would appreciate it if you made these graphics hot links back to this page, something like:

<A HREF="http://www.jcrdesign.com/blinkfree.html">
<IMG SRC="blinkfreeblack.gif" ALT="<BLINK>-Free Logo">
We support <BLINK>-free pages.</A>

Or you could just refer to these icons on my server directly from your page, as in:

<A HREF="http://www.jcrdesign.com/blinkfree.html">
<IMG SRC="http://www.jcrdesign.com/blinkfreeblack.gif" ALT="<BLINK>-Free Logo">
We support <BLINK>-free pages.</A>

Siblings in Arms

Others who have taken up the <BLINK>less call.


A short saying oft contains much wisdom.-- Sophocles: Aletes, frag.99.
  • If you <BLINK>, You Miss It
  • "On the Blink" means it doesn't work.

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Last Updated:
Friday, June 8, 2001
at 12:45 PM by JCR

Copyright ©2001 John C. Rivard.
All Rights Reserved.
This page is subject to these Terms of Use

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