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On the other hand, a trailing slash in link text or print "looks funny."
Best practice might be to include the trailing slash in the url, and leave it out of the link text,
as in <a href="http://www.example.com/">example.com</a>
But if you linked to my busy site without a trailing slash, I'd send you an e-mail and ask for a correction. If that didn't work, I might block your referrals, and then you might get a lot more e-mails from your visitors, telling you the link is broken. Another thing to consider is that search engine spiders which take a non-forgiving view of link syntax might get lost or encounter an error processing those links, and discount your page as a useful resource. I doubt that any of the current "majors" would have any problem, but you just never know.
So, to answer your original question, Yes, it matters, and I recommend you "follow the rules [faqs.org]" for best results.
If you have some compelling reason you want to leave off the trailing slash, then go ahead. In most cases, it will still work, and maybe you won't get any complaints or have any trouble with search engines. Personally, I'd rather stick with the specifications and not rely on any "fix-up" done by other sites or SE robots. I'm a big fan of doing things "by the book" -- in large part because I spend a lot of time trying to help people recover [google.com] from the unintended consequences of not getting things quite right the first time.
I definitely want to play by the rules. The link you gave left my eyes glazed over however.
Nowhere did I see something as simple as " YES, you want the trailing slash .. " (if that is the case.)
All my internal links point back to my main page www.mysite.net/index.html as ..www.mysite.net/
i.e. with the slash. I may encourage others to link the same way.
Here's my question: How about internal pages? Does it make any sense to have
www.mysite.net/map1.html/ -and- www.mysite.net/map2.html/?
Or, is that just nonsense? I tried it, and the map pages showed the text, but without the actual map images!
Short answer: Those URLs refer to the indexes of directories named, "map1.html" and "map2.html", respectively. On a typical server, they would be equivalent to /map1.html/index.html and /map2.html/index.html, assuming that the default directory-index was specified as "index.html" in the server configuration file.
Long answer: See the eye-glazer document, and look for section 3 where it describes the various "parts" of a resource identifier, and how they are delimited. Referring to section 3.2, the boundary between the end of an "authority" (domain name) and the beginning of a "path" is marked with a slash.
Without getting all bogged down in the specifications and requirements for their own sake, I just read them and try to figure out what it means to me as a Webmaster. In most cases, I want to make sure that my site works properly, even if the client browser/search engine spider doesn't get it quite right -- and some new ones don't.
My recommendation to always include a trailing slash applies only to the default index page of a domain, as in "webmasterworld.com/" or to the default index page of a subdirectory of that domain.
Your explanation is a lot less eye-glazing than a document that turns 'domain name' into 'authority' and the like.
The answer to Livenomadic's question is then: "YES, put on the trailing slash onto www.widget.com/ ".
Personally, I would recommend leaving in the www. as well, but be consistent. Choose one or the other and stick with it, but keep the slash.
Best wishes - Larry