The IF Archive CSS Competition: Rules

The CSSComp ran from January to mid-February of 2009. We are no longer accepting submissions. See the competition page for the winner and the rest of the entries.

The rules are preserved below for future reference.

When I (Andrew Plotkin) set up the IF Archive index pages -- it was just an HTTP mirror of, then -- I didn't make them pretty. I wrote some classic, visually-neutral HTML, same as I used to make my first web page in 1993. The only styled element was a little box quote.

That's still how it looks. A little Neo-Web-Brutalist composition of black, white, list bullets, horizontal rules, and Times Roman (unless your web browser is set up with some other defaults).

We, the Archive management folks, would like to change that. Therefore: the IF Archive CSS Competition. Submit a CSS file to make the Archive less ugly! Deadline is Feb 8th. We'll use the best submission.

...That's the short rule. Here are the long rules.

- This is actually two competitions -- Popular Choice and Archive Maintainers' Choice. We want to know what everybody likes, but we will make the final decision on what we actually use. We promise to weigh the Popular Choice very heavily in our selection.

- On the CSSComp site, you'll see five sample HTML pages: a copy of the front page, the root index page, an index page from down in the stacks, a directory list, and a random informational page. They all draw on "./ifarchive.css", which defines nothing except a quotebox style and a little bit of boldface. In other words, they look exactly like the real Archive pages. (Most of the links are inactive, though.)

- Download those files. (Here is a zip file.) Rewrite the ifarchive.css file to do something else. (You may modify the HTML files too, and include images in your design, but both in moderation. See below.)

- Submit your work back to us, by Feb 8th. Please include "CSSComp" in the submission field. Also include a title for your design (or we'll call it "Untitled"). You may add a blurb, which we will display with your entry on the competition page.

- If your entry includes several files, or modifies the HTML files, please zip/tar your entire work directory and submit that.

- You may include small images in your layout, for interesting borders and so on. You may also include one banner image, for the front page only. If you want to spice up your design with a URL icon (favicon), include that too. Put these images in the ./cssimg folder (currently empty).

- You may modify the five HTML files in small, shallow ways. Examples: adding an <img> tag for a banner; moving or removing the <hr> tags; changing a <dl> list to <ul>; wrapping <divs> around elements to enable better CSS.

- However, the less you change the HTML, the more favorably the Maintainers will look upon you. We already have a good assortment of CSS classes and ids in there, for you to make use of.

- No animations. No Javascript. Reactive CSS is okay. We reserve the right to reject entries that abuse our eyes or web browsers.

- DEC-terminal green Courier on a black background may be thematically appropriate, but it will not win the Maintainers' Choice award. Sorry.

- Remember that the IF Archive is used by a lot of blind folks. Also, my favorite web browser is Lynx. Your HTML must make sense without the CSS.

- Entries will be accepted until February 8th, 11:59 pm Eastern. We will add each submission to the directory, as it is received.

- Popular Choice voting will run from February 9th until the 16th. Details to be determined. (Probably "email Zarf".) We will then tally the votes and confer, and announce the results of both competitions forthwith.

- You grant the Maintainers the right to use your submitted files on the Archive, and modify them as we see fit. Our final decision for the Archive design may be a modification of the Maintainers' Choice winner. We will continue to host the submissions at the CSSComp site, in their original forms, for posterity (and so that the Popular Choice winner has something to brag about). We will add a line to the front page crediting the Maintainer's Choice winner.

- Archive Maintainers are not barred from entering. I already have one non-serious entry in there (a demo to show how the CSS classes are laid out). I plan to submit a real entry too.

- Yes, that means I will be judging my own entry. Cope. We're keeping CSSComp informal -- no discussion blackout, no coordinated release deadline. We're hoping that the early entries will spark discussion and more entries. Don't rip off posted entries, please, that would be lame.

- This is already too many rules for an informal competition. Go to it.