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No More WWW
I'm through with it and good riddance!
pageoneresults




msg:3541606
 4:07 pm on Jan 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

After 12+ years of promoting www I've now decided to change my ways. From 2008-01-01 forward, I'm going wwwless. Now that I have the knowledge and tools available to me, I'm stripping the www forever.

Okay, so what are the Pros and Cons of my decision moving forward? I'm going to say that I'm not concerned about "dated conventions". I'm looking for branding, short and sweet URI addresses and no confusion whatsoever.

It's even a pain repeating dub-dub-dub. I'm through with it and good riddance!

www > 301 > root

http://example.com/

It doesn't get any simpler than that. :)

[ISAPI_Rewrite]

RewriteCond %HTTPS off
RewriteCond Host: (?!^example\.com$)(.+)
RewriteRule /(.*) http\://example.com/$2 [I,RP]

RewriteCond %HTTPS on
RewriteCond Host: (?!^example\.com$)(.+)
RewriteRule /(.*) https\://example.com/$2 [I,RP]

 

Quadrille




msg:3541628
 4:44 pm on Jan 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

I don't think it really matters one way or the other, so long as you are consistent. Even subdomains will inevitably get www added, so changing one site is not going to affect people's expectations a lot.

One tiny difference is that some software (certain browsers and mailers) will make www.example.com into a live link; the same is not true (or less true) of example.com

On the other hand, Cool URIs Don't Change, so expect problems, though probably briefly.

[edited by: Quadrille at 4:47 pm (utc) on Jan. 6, 2008]

MarkWolk




msg:3541772
 11:04 pm on Jan 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

I don't like the www, and I have 2 domains without it (+ a dozen domains with www). However I would not consider getting rid of the www for those of my domains that have it. Why? Here:

- Most email clients, forums or blogs won't link automatically to example.com ; only to www.example.com or http://example.com.

- Most internet-lay people expect the www. If you give them your url over the phone or in person, and the url is example.com, they will ask you: "Do I need to put the www in front of it?" and you will have to reply "No, only ["....] So what is easier to say: www or [?...]

- Many directories and other websites add the www automatically, so you end up with links to www and non-www versions of your site.

Quadrille




msg:3541786
 11:34 pm on Jan 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

Yup, whoever added www in the first place should have been &*&*$%%$^%$ (and probably was), but we're stuck with it.

Patrick Taylor




msg:3541787
 11:37 pm on Jan 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

http://www. is a nuisance but par for the course for a long time to come.

Marcia




msg:3541791
 11:48 pm on Jan 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

I get visitors who type in "www. keyword phrase" yes, just like that: www. blue widgets to let the search engines know that it's a web page they're looking for. A lot of the rank and file out there expects it.

MarkWolk




msg:3541796
 12:32 am on Jan 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

The only way to kill the www would be to lobby for new standards. All hosting companies would have to redirect the www to non-www, and so would have all directories etc. I actually think it might be worth it if done that way.

However, as the world is still struggling with different power and telephone outlets in each country, there are certainly other priorities.

buckworks




msg:3541820
 1:25 am on Jan 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

I have avoided the www. for years and I haven't noticed any negative consequences whatsoever from doing without it.

vincevincevince




msg:3541821
 1:26 am on Jan 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

Whilst I agree being shorter can be better, I also feel it is a recipe for future problems. At the moment, you handle your web pages from the same place as the root of your domain; but with future site enlargement, you might wish to have one machine handling your local DNS and quite another running the www. With your new system you will end up using your local DNS machine as a proxy server to your www content...

dub-dub-dub

double-you, double-you, double-you?

jdMorgan




msg:3541822
 1:30 am on Jan 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

example.com -- corporate intranet server
www.example.com -- world-wide-web server
dev.example.com -- a development server
test.example.com -- a pre-release testing server
mail.example.com -- the mail server

None of these hosts are necessarily the same machine; Requesting each of them results in content from entirely different "Web sites" being displayed, and therefore "www" is not insignificant in this content. It's all well and good to get indignant about "www", but before doing so, it's a good idea to understand what it means, what it is for, and why it exists.

If all hosting companies redirected www to non-www, there would be an awful lot of lawsuits. The same would be true if they unilaterally redirected *any* subdomain to any other subdomain or hostname.

Non-www is good because it is short and concise. It may have a bit more perceived "authority" if used for an established brand. Make sure you are a Nike or a Coca-Cola before considering yourself to be an established brand -- cheap-blue-widgets.com may not cut it.

In printed media, www is good because it provides a visual cue that the text at hand is a web address -- and www.example.com certainly looks better than http://example.com in print. This is also true for radio, where it cues the listener to the start of the impending domain name announcement.

Using www was also the 'standard' way of indicating an internet server as opposed to a corporate intranet server for many years. As indicated in a post above, it is to some extent still "expected."

Now that computer hardware has advanced and it is no longer always necessary to use separate physical hosts for internet, intranet, development, test, and mail servers, choosing www-versus-non-www is largely a matter of the branding and marketing factors mentioned above. But www existed (and exists) for a very good reason, and that is that it is a legitimate subdomain name just like any other -- no more, no less. Even with powerful modern servers, an informed choice still has to consider branding, type-ins, media presentation, and other marketing factors, not just personal preferences.

As a result, there is no single "correct" answer.

Jim

pageoneresults




msg:3542279
 4:00 pm on Jan 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

On the other hand, Cool URIs Don't Change, so expect problems, though probably briefly.

No they don't. And that is why I'm making the decision out of the box on this next project, no changing afterwards.

Most email clients, forums or blogs won't link automatically to example.com ; only to www.example.com or http://example.com.

Yes I know, a flaw that one day may get fixed. Keep in mind that this applies to sub-domains (hosts) too.

Most internet-lay people expect the www. If you give them your url over the phone or in person, and the url is example.com, they will ask you: "Do I need to put the www in front of it?" and you will have to reply "No, only ["....] So what is easier to say: www or [?...]

Yes, most of the previous generation are expecting the www. That's fine, they can use it too. They'll just end up at the wwwless version through a seamless 301. No big deal.

Many directories and other websites add the www automatically, so you end up with links to www and non-www versions of your site.

Those are probably directories that I don't want to be listed in anyway. If they can't take the time to follow protocol and to check the actual address, which the major directories will, then I'm not concerned about it as I'll have a 301 in place to address that issue.

Yup, whoever added www in the first place should have been &*&*$%%$^%$ (and probably was), but we're stuck with it.

Speak for yourself! I just rid myself of it!

I get visitors who type in "www. keyword phrase" yes, just like that: www. blue widgets to let the search engines know that it's a web page they're looking for. A lot of the rank and file out there expects it.

While they may expect it, they won't get it in this instance. They can type in www, link to the www, promote www, speak www, do whatever they want with www, once they arrive, I'm stripping them of www. :)

The only way to kill the www would be to lobby for new standards.

Ah, I don't want to lobby for something that is already in writing. There is a protocol for host names and I'm just stepping outside of it a little bit.

I have avoided the www. for years and I haven't noticed any negative consequences whatsoever from doing without it.

I'd be interested to know how the sites perform within their target market. I have this Tin Hat notion that a "root" reference tends to have a bit more weight than a host reference (www.). Not much, but just enough to make a difference in an extremely competitive environment.

Whilst I agree being shorter can be better, I also feel it is a recipe for future problems. At the moment, you handle your web pages from the same place as the root of your domain; but with future site enlargement, you might wish to have one machine handling your local DNS and quite another running the www. With your new system you will end up using your local DNS machine as a proxy server to your www content...
dub-dub-dub

I doubt that "I" will ever need that type of development environment, there are other ways to skin that cat.

double-you, double-you, double-you?

example.com

As a result, there is no single "correct" answer.

Just what I was hoping not to see. So, its one of those decisions you make at the onset and stick to it no matter what you may read?

jdMorgan




msg:3542300
 4:33 pm on Jan 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

As a result, there is no single "correct" answer.

Just what I was hoping not to see. So, its one of those decisions you make at the onset and stick to it no matter what you may read?

The ability to redirect takes some of the edge off of 'stick to it forever,' but yes, you should at least link to your own sites and pages in an utterly-consistent manner.

For example, you could link to example.com on your own sites, but with the ability to redirect, there's no reason you couldn't promote www.example.com in print and on the radio to get the visual/auditory 'cue effect' of "www" without getting too many non-canonical backlinks on the Web as a result of that off-line promotion.

The only 'hard' concern is that mentioned above for DNS. It used to be said that non-www would cause trouble if you ever needed to go to round-robin DNS for load sharing, but someone later posted that it wasn't a problem any more (and why it wasn't), so I'm no longer so sure about it.

The main point is that it is not a matter of whether we "like" www or non-www, or whether we consider "www" to be a nuisance of some sort -- There are technical and marketing factors to consider, and that's the message we need to make clear.

If there are any folks here that have done formal marketing effectiveness studies of www-versus-non in the Web, print and radio media sectors, I'd love to hear their results.

Jim

buckworks




msg:3542353
 5:22 pm on Jan 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

I'd be interested to know how the sites perform within their target market.

They do just fine.

Quadrille




msg:3542406
 6:03 pm on Jan 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

I haven't noticed any negative consequences whatsoever from doing without it.

Ah, but would you have noticed some positive consequences if you'd stuck with the WWW?

No way to know, is there?

europeforvisitors




msg:3542412
 6:09 pm on Jan 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

I've never used the "www," and with a 301 redirect in .htaccess, it doesn't matter if I do or I don't. For me, the big benefit is the one that you've recognized: Branding. Instead of having to say "Modern Widget at [modernwidget.com",...] I can just say "Modernwidget.com."

On the other hand, for a long-established brick-and-mortar business that uses the Web mainly as a promotional or communications tool, using "www" in its Web address might make sense because the Web address isn't the brand, and "www" clearly says "Here's our Web site." For example:

WIDGET COLA
"The caffeine fix that refreshes"
www.widgetcola.com

buckworks




msg:3542429
 6:25 pm on Jan 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

In Canada, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation promotes its website as

cbc.ca

"See-bee-see-dot-see-ay" is much more graceful for the radio announcers than trying to include the www!

youfoundjake




msg:3542464
 6:55 pm on Jan 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

Thanks to Jim, if someone asks me if there needs to be a www in front of example.com, I just say "no".

Because on the backend, i have the redirect from non-www to www.

however, when i type in a URL, I almost never type in the www part which is kind of odd to me now that i think about it, and how it fits into this thread.

europeforvisitors




msg:3542473
 6:59 pm on Jan 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

however, when i type in a URL, I almost never type in the www part which is kind of odd to me now that i think about it, and how it fits into this thread.

It's interesting how some corporate sites won't display unless the "www" is typed. Where do those guys hire their Webmasters and design firms?

pageoneresults




msg:3542484
 7:09 pm on Jan 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

It's interesting how some corporate sites won't display unless the "www" is typed.

This is where the challenge comes in. For anyone deciding to go wwwless, they first need to have the technical resources available to handle all scenarios based on user habits. I've found technical issues with most sites when it comes to how their server is configured to handle certain requests. If I can find them, you can be assured that a sneaky competitor can find them too and possibly capitalize on those flaws.

I'll have to admit that if you are on a Windows Server, you are most likely a prime candidate for most of the flaws we'd discuss in this topic. Tis a shame too because it is not difficult at all to make Windows behave like Apache when it comes to mod_rewrite, .htaccess, etc. We now have the tools available to us, use them!

Commerce




msg:3542493
 7:21 pm on Jan 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

WWW is not inherently evil... Really. I'll share some thoughts on why I think that is.

You need to look back at history to understand what this is all about. It really all comes down to locations and standards.

A domain name itself is really part of a host tree hierarchy starting at "." and going back. That hierarchy is the fundamental premise behind the DNS (Domain Name Service) system.

As the holder of a domain, you get the ability to control DNS servers that allocate the information you provide about the hierarchy of your name and below.

If you actually read about DNS, you will find that what we commonly call sub domains are entries in a DNS host file for your domain name. If you read on, you will find that the names we use for sub domains are designed to be "Hints" or clues as to what the sub domain is used for. By convention people have adopted names like FTP (for File Transfer Protocol), NSx (where x is a number for DNS protocol) - although using such names is certainly not a requirement for DNS or FTP or for that matter the WWW (HTTP) protocol.

In DNS there are records call "A" records which map the name of a sub domain (which is really a host server [machine] using the IP address being mapped and serving the service that the host name hint should offer) to an IP address.

From an organizational standpoint, WWW is a convenience that allows you to tell the world that the files for the WWW (HTTP) service are located on the server for a given specified A record in DNS.

So why is this useful?
Sometimes it is not. For example, if you don't plan to use sub domains and other services on your domain name other than HTTP. If your site is purely for HTTP, then perhaps no WWW is okay (but only if you can live with excluding people who type in www.example.tld rather than just example.tld).

On the other hand, if you want to have more than one WWW site on a domain (sub domains), then not having a WWW might cause some folks to get confused.

To illustrate, approved registries get the rights to control DNS servers that are for a "top level domain" (TLD) we shall call "TLD" (you can think of those as names like COM, NET, ORG, US, CA, etc).

You get to buy the right to use names under their name, so for our purposes you own EXAMPLE.TLD

You decide you don't care about WWW.EXAMPLE.TLD and just want to use EXAMPLE.TLD. What happens.

Bad things can, for example, if you ever get email bombed, the SMTP specification says if no MX records are found, seek the root domain A record server and check for an SMTP service on it. So once your actual email servers get overwhelmed, if your web server is also located the root domain, a lot of activity might hurt your web server's ability to function properly.

Another problem might happen if you use a sub domain like FTP.EXAMPLE.TLD - Is it an FTP server as one might conclude by conventions, or is it a web server or is it both? Say I don't want it to be both. Well, I don't have another A record available to me that let's WWW.FTP.EXAMPLE.TLD exist if I've sworn off using WWW, so both are going to have to be on the same server.

You may also sacrifice the use of wildcard SSL certificates, which (although most browsers won't) should not use the domain name as a valid SSL name by standards RFCs. Ironically, many of the browser makers don't seem to follow the RFCs related to this properly. Two that do seem to do wildcard SSL per RFC are Opera and Firefox. I contend that both Internet Explorer and Safari do not follow the wildcard SSL RFC properly, but trying to explain that to either of their makers is a futile journey (pun intended).

Also, because of the WWW convention, if you don't specify an A record for the WWW host name, people typing in WWW.EXAMPLE.TLD won't get anywhere. Not good, so you will want to have the WWW DNS A host record in there in any case pointing to the same server IP that hosts the EXAMPLE.TLD site.

Bottom line, removing the WWW does not buy you much and might well cause you more operational pain that you might want or have expected.

I look at it this way, I think that generally far brighter folks than I ever will be have spent a lot of time figuring out basic infrastructure and the reasons for doing things. As such, I also think that it is best to pay attention to their thinking in order to avoid the problems all that thinking was trying to avoid in the first place.

Of course, if one subscribes to the belief that 2+2 should be whatever result one feels is correct, then by all means, they should go against standards. ;-)

From my view, it is far better to use the WWW and have your EXAMPLE.TLD DNS A host record defined IP machine have an HTTP redirect to the WWW.EXAMPLE.TLD machine if you keep seperate machines (or if even you don't) than the other way around. I say this because I want to avoid of all the unexpected operational problems going against the way the standards work that I have not thought about might cause me.

My .02 cents.

-Commerce

nickreynolds




msg:3542502
 7:27 pm on Jan 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

I just want a "www." button on my keyboard!

werty




msg:3542506
 7:33 pm on Jan 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

In Canada, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation promotes its website as

cbc.ca

"See-bee-see-dot-see-ay" is much more graceful for the radio announcers than trying to include the www!

When you go to cbc.ca it redirects you to the www. version (c;

We always redirect the non www. to the www.

MarkWolk




msg:3542520
 7:47 pm on Jan 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

I just want a "www." button on my keyboard!

It's there in Internet Explorer. Just type the domain without www and com in the address window, then press CTRL+Enter. I.e. if you type "example" in the address window, then CTRL+Enter, you reach the page http://www.example.com/

pageoneresults




msg:3542527
 7:52 pm on Jan 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

We always redirect the non www. to the www.

I've promoted that same line/methodology for years. I'm changing my ways for a couple new projects and I'm taking off my www. :)

Personally, I see no reason to have those three extra characters occupy valuable real estate. Yes, I look at that URI as a piece of real estate. It just dawned on me one day while setting up a Google Campaign and entering the Display URI as I typically do. I started thinking, hey, I strip the www here, why not just strip it at the source too?

We're at a stage in technical expertise where we can easily implement the rules that are required to operate wwwless. I posted them above in my original message. :)

There have been some valid points brought up so far that have me thinking about my decision. For one, the auto linking of www. That feature in itself is probably the biggest Pro of using www.

But then I look at all the Cons from a marketing perspective of using www and I can get those to outweigh that one Pro.

"What's your web address?"

"example.com"

"What's yours?"

"dubdubdub.example.com"
"doubleudoubleudouble.example.com"
"delbleyoudelbleyoudelbleyou.example.com"
"debdebdeb.example.com"
"doubwadoubwadoubwa.example.com" (is that French?)

You'll notice that the first part, the www can be pronounced a variety of ways. The example.com remains consistent. :)

europeforvisitors




msg:3542531
 7:57 pm on Jan 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

Don't forget "dubyadubyadubya dot com," which may have political implications that some users don't like. :-)

incrediBILL




msg:3542595
 9:14 pm on Jan 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

Did I miss the start of the silly season?

With a simple redirect you can have both www and non-www so the only issue is whether you put the WWW on your marketing.

Switching which mode is the default on your server will take the SE's many days/weeks/months to correct in my experience and some, like Ask, still show results for a domain that was redirected over 4 years ago.

ajayyadav




msg:3542616
 9:43 pm on Jan 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

Hi Guys,
if a website www.example.com indexed with only example.com >> Is there any way to get back in with www.

shall we have to do redirection like without www. to www. if yes then what would be the code.

Please reply this post.

Thanks
ajayyadav

youfoundjake




msg:3542640
 10:11 pm on Jan 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

if a website www.example.com indexed with only example.com >> Is there any way to get back in with www.
shall we have to do redirection like without www. to www. if yes then what would be the code.

A couple things...
concerning google, log into your webmasters tools console, (if you have one) and set the preferred domain in there, (in relation to google and how they view the site)
second..
If you are using apache, check out this forum: [webmasterworld.com...]

The answer is in there, i've asked my self, you can even take a look at my post which address's it slightly, [webmasterworld.com...]

If you are using IIS, check here: [webmasterworld.com...]

hope that helps

timchuma




msg:3542648
 10:23 pm on Jan 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

Both seem to work for my site. The most visitors I got for the year was when my site address was printed in a magazine with www in front of it by mistake. I didn't know the site address was going to be published or I would have told them to drop the www.

lammert




msg:3542660
 10:37 pm on Jan 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

The discussion of WWW vs. non-WWW is always repeating and makes me think of the HTML vs. XHTML debate. Both discussions have IMO a lot in common. In both situations people want to get rid of the "old" and do something "new", without any technical reason to do so. In both cases there are technical reasons not to go with the newest idea.

Some technical problems with the non-WWW websites have already been discussed in earlier posts, but I would like to focus on the organizational side and scalebility.

If you build a site, it is not uncommon that it offers more services, i.e. HTTP, FTP, RSS, SMTP, maybe video, etc. On a small scale project, all these services can be provided by one physical machine. That machine could be assigned the name example.com and all mentioned services could be provided via that domain.

We all want to increase our presence on the web, and their might come a day--hopefully sooner than later--that one physical machine is not enough anymore to provide all services. You will start to split the services over more than one computer and that is where the problem starts.

If people were used to FTP to example.com and get both their HTTP pages and RSS feeds from that same domain, it might be difficult with a large user base and good rankings in the search engines to split the functionality. If every service was available on a different subdomain from the begining, users were used to FTP to ftp.example.com, browse to www.example.com and get their RSS feeds from rss.example.com. If you want to put those functionalities different machines, you only have to change the IP addresses associated with ftp.example.com and rss.example.com and that's it.

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