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Is "www" redundant?
Wai_Wai




msg:686678
 3:29 am on Sep 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

Hi.
Usually when we type a URL, it is in form of www.{doamin-name}.com
Why do we need to have "www"?
Do you feel "www" is redundant?
Should "www" be abolished?
Any opinion?

[edited by: Webwork at 4:22 am (utc) on Sep. 24, 2005]
[edit reason] Edited hotlink. Please read the Charter. [/edit]

 

Wai_Wai




msg:686738
 8:17 am on Sep 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

I think www in front of your domain looks balanced with a .com on business cards - Having just a domain.com makes it look uneven to me.

Why do we need to make it balanced?
Actually it is not really balanced. The most balanced way to display might be:
www.#*$!.com

All sections have 3 words only. Completely balanced (but of no use except maybe being an eye-candy) :P

Wai_Wai




msg:686739
 8:22 am on Sep 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

Again, this isn't apparent to people using virtualhost setups. Imagine if you've got five servers in your setup and in order to balance the load you distribute incoming requests (e.g. ssh) to example.com among each of the five servers. Now what happens if apache is only running on server #4.
You create an alias for server4: www.example.com -> server4.example.com
This bypasses the load distributing by directly accessing the server4 by using a common standard alias for webservers, namely www.

If you did away with www you'd be faced with having to tell users to directly access server4.example.com or running copies of apache on all five servers.

I have a question.
Isn't it true we can also balance the loads without the need of "www."?

For example:
When you type either www.exmaple.com or example.com., it will redirect to:

1.example.com
2.example.com
3.example.com
and so on

Technically speaking, "www" is just a subdomain. We are free to name it anything to our liking. The point is we need to take care of our visitors. That's why we need redirection :D

Am I right?
What do you think?

Hester




msg:686740
 9:15 am on Sep 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

We have an address at work which uses a subdomain, so we read that out over the phone when people ask for the address. I've lost count of the number of people who then add "www" to the start. The result is that the site doesn't come up. Following the advice in this thread I'll seek to redirect it if I can.

I also find that any address without "www" often causes the user to read them out in full, along with the HTTP start. Agh! As in the comment posted earlier:

"aahch tee tee pee colon backslash backslash double you double you double double you dot example dot com"

No need!

One last thing. I often just type the middle part of an address in to my browser. Eg: "microsoft". It works, except for when the site can't be resolved automatically, which is rare, but can happen. This is in Opera or Firefox though, which will add the common extension, even if it is not ".com". In IE6 it works for ".com", but other formats require setting up manually I believe, or various key combinations. (You can though change the default extension if, say, you prefer ".co.uk" to come up automatically instead.)

I would also like to advocate dropping the extension (TLD) for root pages. Just type "bbc" and the browser should find the site. I tried this now and it resolved perfectly to bbc.co.uk with the full prefix as well. It's just older browsers that stop this being useful for everyone.

As for recognising a web address on radio because it starts with "www" I'd say it relies instead on ".com". If I hear "Go to example.com" I know it's a web address. But even if you just used "example" it would be useful just from the context. Eg: "Go to our website 'example'." Though that's pushing it I guess!

I just see http, www and TLDs as archaic and unnecessary. (Don't get me started on all those new ones like ".golf"!) The default prefix a browser should use is http. So why even show it? Users then think you have to type "http" in to get to the site! Just show the prefix if the site begins with ftp or gopher etc.

The shorter the address, the better. Plus I see plenty of examples where the "www" is not shown. I say "www" is redundant, and irritating to pronounce. Let's get rid of it.

My wife will absolutely not type anything in the browser's address bar, she types the URL into Google. It drives me nuts, but I assume there are MANY others doing exactly the same thing.

She needs re-educating. That's simply the wrong way to use the browser. Consider changing the home page if it is set to Google, to a blank screen or a site without a search form on it.

webdoctor




msg:686741
 9:47 am on Sep 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

I would also like to advocate dropping the extension (TLD) for root pages. Just type "bbc" and the browser should find the site. I tried this now and it resolved perfectly to bbc.co.uk with the full prefix as well. It's just older browsers that stop this being useful for everyone.

Which site are you talking about? www.bbc.co.uk? www.bbc.org? www.bbc.com.tw?

I don't like the idea of some unelected "standards committee" deciding for me that "BBC" means www.bbc.co.uk - that may be the most popular meaning by far, but it's not the only one.

MultiMan




msg:686742
 10:15 am on Sep 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

I would also like to advocate dropping the extension (TLD) for root pages. Just type "bbc" and the browser should find the site.

While I understand the ease of that idea, I strongly disagree with any browser doing any such thing. It is horribly bigoted against .net, .org, .info, .biz, .us, and numerous other TLD sites. There are even many times when nothing more than a squatter has the .com version of a domain, and then they do not even use it or they only have it so as to try to sell it. The idea of any browser defaulting to .com without user input is just plain wrong.

MarkHutch




msg:686743
 10:22 am on Sep 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

The idea of any browser defaulting to .com without user input is just plain wrong.

Pretty sure the White House would be against this, too. :)

MultiMan




msg:686744
 10:43 am on Sep 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

Pretty sure the White House would be against this, too.

Drats! You blew my cover! ;)

econman




msg:686745
 12:54 pm on Sep 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

I.E. and Firefox could automatically try inserting the www's whenever someone leaves them off, if that is what it takes to find a page that will resolve, and vice versa -- if the browsers were to automatically try removing the www's whenever someone erroneously types them and as a result the page doesn't resolve/

This would be neutral, yet improve the user experience, thereby solving the problem of webmasters who are too lazy or uninformed to establish the necessary redirects to capture all potential traffic regardless of what someone types.

I suspect that if the browsers were to do this, a growing percentage of the population would start leaving the www's off, regardless of what the webmasters decide is most aesthetically pleasing, etc.

The www's will eventually disappear, it is only a matter of time.

While I think this trend is inevitable, it could be a long way off, and may not develop rapidly, because some people are very slow to change their habits.

We are dealing with conflicting aspects of human nature: habit (causing some to keep typing the extra characters even when they aren't needed) and laziness (causing some to leave the www's off unless forced to do so.

IMO laziness will eventually conquer habit. ;)

dataguy




msg:686746
 1:23 pm on Sep 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

Here's another problem that I've never heard anyone else mention. Often when an Internet newbie (like my mom) wants to send an email to someone by typing in the email address, they will type in name@www.example.com. No DNS or mail server that I'm aware of handles this problem, and the email never gets delivered, further making the newbie think the Internet is just a big mysterious black hole.

jdMorgan




msg:686747
 1:41 pm on Sep 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

Just a warning:

If your site is large enough that you might ever need to use multiple-server load-sharing, then do not drop the www from your Web site's domain name. The root domain will need to be left free for use as the 'distribution' domain for the load-balancer.

This was pointed out the last time we had a discussion of eliminating "www", but I cannot find the thread to credit the original poster.

Again, this points out that it doesn't matter what we like or don't like. Specifications written years ago are still in force, and many decisions based on those specifications have side-effects lurking to trap the unwary. The Google 302-redirect debacle illustrates what can happen if the specifications are stretched beyond what was intended.

Back to the original focus, it will be OK to make the non-www domain accessible as an 'alias' for the www- version, but I'd advise the use of the "www" version for all print and in-bound-linking purposes. That way, if you end up using load-shared servers in the future, it will be a DNS change only and you won't have to re-print all your business cards, flyers, and letterheads, and re-start your link campaign from scratch.

Jim

jazzle




msg:686748
 2:02 pm on Sep 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

the worst thing I've seen is a TV ad which showed the address in text without the 'www.' which when Itried gave a holding page!.
so I emailed them to tell them that they ought to fix it, they said that most people know to add the 'www.'
so emailed them again to say that there are also people who know that many sites don't need it.

I'm glad to be able to say that they have since fixed it.

<snip>

[edited by: Webwork at 2:05 pm (utc) on Sep. 29, 2005]
[edit reason] Removed link drop to non-authoritative source [/edit]

mvl22




msg:686749
 2:04 pm on Sep 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

I don't think anyone has mentioned what I regard as the best reason for sticking with www. as your _primary_ name.

This is that many programs like Office suites, Bulletin boards, etc., automatically turn www.example.com into active links (i.e. recognises it as a website address) but will not do so for example.com .

I imagine, given google page-rank issues, that the creation of such links would normally be considered positive and welcome.

(As a matter of best practice, I always set http://example.com/path/to/whatever.html to forward to http://www.example.com/path/to/whateve.html so that either works; but I do believe that sticking with the, admittedly slightly awkwardly-read www. prefix is sensible. That said I think web.example.com is quite cool and would be good to see!)

MultiMan




msg:686750
 2:20 pm on Sep 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

This is that many programs like Office suites, Bulletin boards, etc., automatically turn www.example.com into active links (i.e. recognises it as a website address) but will not do so for example.com .

Excellent additional point. I had forgotten to add that too. There are times, such as in emails, when I deliberately type the extra "www." exactly for that reason of software making it clickable.

johan




msg:686751
 3:21 pm on Sep 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

Cant we all use IP address?

Seriously though I would keep “www” because having none would indicate a test sever on your local PC (like XP and IIS) or a company Intranet.

A live test server can then be called “www1” so that we know all the relative links are working (though I suppose you could call it test.domain.com). Also a Search engine may spider test.domain.com but not www1 which you dont want spidered. It also help differentiate between the Internet as it is now and the internet version 2 if Google decides to do it.

econman




msg:686752
 3:26 pm on Sep 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

WRT turning addresses into links: I use the Thunderbird open source email program.

It turns addresses into links if they are preceded by any of the following:

www
http://
[www....]

Are other programs smart enough to turn http:.. into a live link?

gpmgroup




msg:686753
 4:21 pm on Sep 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

I would also like to advocate dropping the extension (TLD) for root pages. Just type "bbc" and the browser should find the site. I tried this now and it resolved perfectly to bbc.co.uk with the full prefix as well. It's just older browsers that stop this being useful for everyone.

Slightly off topic... but important

You need to be very careful when you start advocating missing bits out - differnet browsers behave very differently.

Try for example typing [plants] into Firefox, Opera and IE you will end up in 3 different places.

They are using different search technology to try and work out what the user really means.

jaski




msg:686754
 4:38 pm on Sep 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

WWW has tons of brand value and gives an instant feel of what is being refered to. I think to get rid of it just for bandwidth savings is not going to happen or should happen. Brandwidth is much more valueable.

econman




msg:686755
 5:53 pm on Sep 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

www doesn't really help with branding; it can actually distract from the brand name.

What I think you may be referring to is that the www's clarify the context -- they help make people realize the name in question represents a website.

In this regard, the www's function somewhat like "cola" for branding purposes.

The most important elements of these brands

PepsiCola
CocaCola
RC Cola
Sam's Cola

are not the "cola" which tells the user what type of soft drink, but tell them nothing about the specific brand.

That's why

Pepsi
and
Coke

often advertise without the "cola"

webdoctor




msg:686756
 2:03 am on Sep 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

(...)Internet newbie (...) will type in name@www.example.com

No DNS or mail server that I'm aware of handles this problem, and the email never gets delivered, further making the newbie think the Internet is just a big mysterious black hole

All you need is an MX record for www.example.com and to tell your mailserver what to do with the messages. It should take around one minute to configure.

All my users have many aliases which all deliver to the same mailbox - john.d@example.com, john.doe@example.com j.doe@example.com, jd@example.com, john.doe@support.example.com (and so on) - adding john.doe@www.example.com isn't difficult

fjpapaleo




msg:686757
 2:13 pm on Sep 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

Just tried typing in www. redcross.com and got a page not found. Of course I realized right away it was a .org and subsequently got to the home page. How many people wouldn't? How many millions of dollars could they have lost by not spending five minutes to resolve the .com for people who are not that web savvy? It's an outrage really. And now you guys want to muck up the waters even more by dropping the www.?

webdoctor




msg:686758
 4:22 pm on Sep 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

Just tried typing in www. redcross.com and got a page not found. Of course I realized right away it was a .org and subsequently got to the home page. How many people wouldn't? How many millions of dollars could they have lost by not spending five minutes to resolve the .com for people who are not that web savvy? It's an outrage really. And now you guys want to muck up the waters even more by dropping the www.?

I can imagine the logic behind NOT wanting "wrong" domains to resolve. If someone links to www.redcross.com then perhaps it's better for the link to be broken, and to therefore stand a chance of being corrected, than for it to "just work" doing a 30x redirect to www.redcross.org and be wrong forever

Webwork




msg:686759
 4:48 pm on Sep 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

We're going off topic a bit here, but the RedCross scenario might be one of the few valid scenarios where a redirect splash page with a brief "notice" (about the error of the visitor's ways), a suggestion to "bookmark RedCross.ORG" and a countdown to transfer timer might make sense.

Otherwise . . . wow! Nice discussion about this issue. Thanks all.

twist




msg:686760
 5:50 pm on Sep 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

How many millions of dollars could they have lost by not spending five minutes to resolve the .com for people who are not that web savvy?

There are people who still can't work their TV or VCR remotes properly. I can't count the times people have asked me to help them to get their televisions to work. Every time I just push the cable/vcr button. No matter what you do or how much you dumb down a process there will always be someone who just can't figure it out. Someone once asked what "Fack" stood for on my website. I said, "you mean FAQ?"... I have since changed "FAQ" to "Help".

I don't know where everybody is finding these people. Every time I ask a non-techie about the address bar, they ask me what the hell I am talking about. They don't even know it exists. Everyone I meet just types their query into whatever search engine their ISP has installed on their computer. No coms or www. Most will just type "redcross" into a search engine. I really don't know where your finding regular people who use the address bar. The http:// usually scares everybody away from that area. People might actually consider using the address bar if we get rid of all the unnecassary crap, http:// , www., .asp, and so on. Until then, it doesn't really seem to matter because nobody, but techies, use the address bar.

microcars




msg:686761
 6:49 pm on Sep 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

My wife will absolutely not type anything in the browser's address bar, she types the URL into Google. It drives me nuts, but I assume there are MANY others doing exactly the same thing.

She needs re-educating. That's simply the wrong way to use the browser. Consider changing the home page if it is set to Google, to a blank screen or a site without a search form on it.

RE-EDUCATING?
I don't think so. I'll stand next to her while she is doing this and she just says "I'll do it my way, thankyouverymuch..."

her "home page" is not Google either,its Yahoo, but she won't use the Yahoo Search!
she won't use the Google search box in the upper right hand corner of Safari either.
She has a bookmark for Google and goes there.
Google seems to figured this out and even provides a "link" to the website if it is not indexed.

She is just one of many many many people who do not use their browsers like they are "supposed to".
They never will and there nothing you can do about it except acknowledge it and design to accomodate it.

Tomcat




msg:686762
 7:55 pm on Sep 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

@moTi

yes, I confirm to a 100 % with that. In German language it's a real fast taken single word. I think a better explenation is something like: " v-'e'v-'e'v-'e'" or somthing like that. It's very fast spoken here in German language area,; faster or more easy done than a single 'w' in English.

IMHO that 'www' should and will stay, for sure. I simply redirect any 'non-www' requests to 'www' anyway. In some cases you simply have to do that to prevent dupe-content.

For me it's a must to use 'www', just knowing about hosting several sites on one machine with several services; and I know this problems with subdomains very well.

httpwebwitch




msg:686763
 8:31 pm on Sep 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

[www...] and .com are set as defaults in IE. If I type in "example", it resolves to http://www.example.com

in fact, the proper address is not
http://www.example.com
it's
http://www.example.com/

and if you want to get picky,
http://www.example.com/default.aspx

leave out whatever you like when printing your business cards, but from a webserver point of view, using the www subdom keeps the Web consistent.

Wai_Wai




msg:686764
 8:35 pm on Sep 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

I would also like to advocate dropping the extension (TLD) for root pages. Just type "bbc" and the browser should find the site. I tried this now and it resolved perfectly to bbc.co.uk with the full prefix as well. It's just older browsers that stop this being useful for everyone.

That's an interesting thought which I have been thinking about too.

To the mewbie browsers, they simply think "www." and ".com" are compulsory for all websites. (That's why ".com" is the most valuable, although its value have been declining over ages)

Currently the problems are several websites share the same name but in different TLDs (eg example.com, example.co.uk, exmaple.net).

One type of TLDs (which I think is good and should be kept) are country TLDs like .uk . However it seems a bad idea to restrict all countries to two-word only. This causes quite a few confusions (eg do you know .us is not really intended to mean United States? In fact, there's no country code for United States. A ".com" for exmaple witohut country code is intended to mean United States' websites. But it is no longer true.)

Now the country codes no longer accurately represent the lanagues/regions of the websites. It's especially true for unpopular regions (eg .tk .tl). They just use for all sorts of reasons [eg a play of domain name (eg del.icio.us)].

Wai_Wai




msg:686765
 8:39 pm on Sep 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

Dear microcars,

Sorry to say, but how come your wife behaves so weirdly?
Some of your browsing habits are really bad and time-wasting.

As a husband, you should take care of her. This include cultivating her good browsing habits. :P (joking)

Wai_Wai




msg:686766
 8:43 pm on Sep 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

While I think this trend is inevitable, it could be a long way off, and may not develop rapidly, because some people are very slow to change their habits.

Econman,
That's why we hear someone says "Old habits die hard!"
And "old & bad" habits die even harder.

That's also why society is growing so slowly. :P

Tomcat




msg:686767
 8:44 pm on Sep 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

I doubt most of US-population expects a non-US website on a .com

Sad, but true

Wai_Wai




msg:686768
 8:47 pm on Sep 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

If your site is large enough that you might ever need to use multiple-server load-sharing, then do not drop the www from your Web site's domain name. The root domain will need to be left free for use as the 'distribution' domain for the load-balancer.

Isn't it true "www." is just 1 of the subdomain?
So this implies we don't really need "www." even for this reason.
"www." itself will not make the load-sharing more successfully.

As long as we use some others, that's ok, like:

1.example.com
2.example.com
and so on

I know it is not standard, but just a strange thought to share.

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