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Re: lynx-dev User Agent

From: John Whelan
Subject: Re: lynx-dev User Agent
Date: Wed, 25 Aug 1999 11:45:25 +0200

[on web sites excluding Lynx by checking the User Agent string]

>> Is there a normal protocol for resolving these issues with 
>> web site maintainers? Since this is a high-visibility site,
>> I thought I'd inquire if there was a history.

> I think attempts normally fail, but I would suggest the following:

> Carefully read all legal notices on the site:  if they refer to
> issues of security (trusted SSL implementations) you will probably
> have no luck and may risk prosecution if anything goes wrong with
> their security; if they mention spiders or crawlers, you might just
> be in luck but will have to really convince them that Lynx is normally
> operated interactively by a human; if they mention advert blocking
> or stripping, you are probably out of luck and any access with a non-GUI
> browser would probably be fraudulent.


>> What would folks think of a feature that allowed one to associated
>> a user-agent name with a particular web-site, so that one could
>> more easily access recalcitrant web sites without annoying
>> manual configuration?
> I think this could be considered a conspiracy to obtain a service by
> deception and, even though it wouldn't be worth prosecuting, could lead
> to an arms race, where the site looks for more reliable ways to block
> unapproved browsers and crawlers.

An alternative opinion (and one consistent with views I've seen
expressed on the W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative Interest Group
mailing list) would be that excluding non-graphical browsers in the
first place may be a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act,
since it denies access to blind users using Lynx with a screen reader.

                                        John T. Whelan

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