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Browser error correction mechanisms

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I really need to understand what is so-called browser error correction
mechanisms. Can you explain this?
I read somewhere (and I no longer can find where I read that) that
browsers try to render as best as they can elements (and/or attribute
too? can't remember) that they ignore.
e.g.: I know that fieldset will be rendered as a block level element in
NS 4.7+, almost just like div.

But in a document about upgrading webpages (and I commited
myself into upgrading such document), it is said "standards-based
browsers typically ignore non-compliant elements altogether." Is that
true? Why standards-based browsers should not try to render (instead of
ignoring) an unknown element?
Mozilla supports <embed> and a few other non-HTML4-spec elements IIRC.

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