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Is "www" redundant?

     
3:29 am on Sep 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

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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]

1:45 pm on Sept 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I recall way back in the mists of time when teh web was but a babe, a man on a local TV channel saying teh same thing. He was I recall a 'name' in the computer industry.

Im sure theres a reason for it.

2:30 pm on Sept 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

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www stands for 'world-wide-web' if I have that right.
Maybe it was intended to differentiate that from local networks,
private webs, the military, academia and what-not. -Larry
10:21 pm on Sept 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Oh yeah your right it does stand for that, but what I cant understand is why we need to use it at all.

After all isnt it all the web?

8:39 am on Sept 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

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www.example.com is the hostname of a webserver. www is the traditional hostname given to webservers, the same way ftp is the traditional name given to FTP servers. This is just a convention. BBC News webserver is news.bbc.co.uk for instance.

After all isnt it all the web?

Email isn't part of the 'web'. Nor is FTP, USENET, P2P... Websites arn't the only thing using the Domain Name System. This is why many people got very upset with Verisign's Sitefinder.
8:55 am on Sept 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Be thankful that the standards committees didn't decide back in the days when 99% of all Internet connections were FTP (or mall or whatever), that a missing prefix should default to FTP (or ditto),

That may've made WWW compulsary for all webservers at all times.

As it is, you have a choice on your machine. If there is no prefix, you can default it to what you want.

Please don't try to take that freedom of choice away from the rest of us.

10:50 am on Sept 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Hmm...
Actually the prefix "http://" tells us that it is a website.
So it seem "www" is a bit redundant, not to say it wastes the bandwidth to transfer the "www" on the Internet.
10:56 am on Sept 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Actually the prefix "http://" tells us that it is a website.

Actually it doesn't, http is just a transfer protocol.

An http address could equally point to a file download, a text document or a picture.

But yes, that's being picky, and "www" is unnecessary. As py9jmas points out, historically it was used as a reference to the computer on which the webserver resides rather than a reference to a protocol. It's just a sub-domain.

TJ

7:29 am on Sept 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Several years ago I listened to a similar opinion and it struck a chord with me. www is an outdated formality and I decided to purge it from my sites. I 301 redirected all www requests to the equivalent www-less version. I standardized the linking policy company-wide (globally) to link without the www when possible. I then standardized all business cards, brochures, pamphlets, catalogs and all other printed material to show the www-less version of the company URL.

The key here is to choose one format, standardize on it, and be consistent.

9:28 am on Sept 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

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bill:

That's very correct. :P
I will drop out the 3 redundant "www" too.

10:12 am on Sept 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I will drop out the 3 redundant "www" too.

So you are telling us that your site is very small.
Yes, if you are hosting all internet services, including the web service, on one small server box, you are free to name that box as you want, with or without a 'www.'

Others companies may have to address more than just one box within their domain name space, as they may have a larger web-server farm, applications server clusters, dedicated mail servers for outgoing and incoming mail services, several ftp download servers, and numerous other servers for various other internet services.
Such entities need to uniquely name each server within their domain name space and do this by assigning sub domain names like host1.example.com, ftp2.example.com, intra4.example.com, appl7, imap4, smtp, ns1, ns2, ns3, and yes, perhaps also www, www1 and www2.example.com for their web services.
In such an environment, where should a http / ftp / dns / whatever request for "example.com" go?

It may even on small boxes be advisable to follow this practice to assign subdomain names to distinguish between www, smtp, pop, imap, and ftp services, so that you can easily move a single service to another box if you will ever grow beyond the limits of that one box without the need to change names.

Regards,
R.

12:28 pm on Sept 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Hi Romeo.
What I mean is to follows what bill says.
Redirect www. example.com to example.com
But not just use example.com only.
12:57 pm on Sept 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

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But some major site only have url with the www prefix.

Without the www prefix you would get a page not found error message.

4:56 pm on Sept 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

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What I mean is to follows what bill says.
Redirect www. example.com to example.com

Wouldn't it be better to redirect example.com to www. example.com?
7:59 am on Sept 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Wouldn't it be better to redirect example.com to www. example.com?

I don't think so.
The reason is we can lessen the traffic load by chopping the 3 "www".

11:57 am on Sept 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Wouldn't it be better to redirect example.com to www. example.com?

Personally I prefer that, but it's very much a personal preference - WebmasterWorld does it that way, slashdot does it the other.

we can lessen the traffic load

I wouldn't let four bytes per page become a factor of consideration.

User "perception" and branding are far more important.

TJ

12:11 pm on Sept 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Just wondering what the people on this thread actually put into their browsers address bar when they know a websites URL that they want to visit.

I personally never put www. in front when I am going to a domain name purely because there is no need for it...

The problem really arises with users who dont use the web that often and dont understand the use for it, I personally would love to drop it completly and redirect people but in practice its not a fantastic idea.

2:33 pm on Sept 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

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.com >> domainname then ctrl+enter
.net >> domainname then shift+enter
other >> domainname.tld If it doesn't resolve, I'll add the www.
3:03 pm on Sept 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Right now, web sites account for the overwhelming majority of internet traffic that travels over the http and https protocols. That is subject to change and to change quickly.

Because of this, I am sticking to the old-school approach. The website doesn't have to be "www", but it does have to have a hostname.

Today, when our system receives an http resource request for "ourdomain.com", we make an assumption (because we are forced to) that this request is for the most popular type of resource - something that can be handled by a web server. And we redirect the request to "www.ourdomain.com". Three years from now, the most popular type of resource may not be a web page. And, even though we still maintain a website, we will then route naive "ourdomain.com" requests to "4thdimension.ourdomain.com" which can handle requests for this new type of resource.

So, the bottom-line of my opinion is: The user should be able to just enter the domain name and get to your website (via a redirect to hostname.yourdomain.com). Your system (webserver, load-balancing, DNS, etc.) however, should cause any http request that does not indicate a hostname to be redirected to a default hostname for your web service. The industry standard for a default web service host name is "www".

3:17 pm on Sept 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I think www is still important. Especially for linking. Many will link to www version.

Not-so-educated users assume www is mandatory. Sometimes I spell someone a subdomain (e.g. forums.example.com) and they type www.forums.example.com even though I didn't say it. I saw this happen way too many times.

I use a simple .htaccess to redirect everything from non-www domain to www domain.

RewriteEngine On 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^www\.
RewriteRule (.*) [%{HTTP_HOST}...] [R=301,L]
1:07 am on Sept 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Interesting topic. For some reason, years ago, I decided the www. was redundant and I decided to promote my sites using sld.com. My largest site has about 100,000 backlinks (according to Yahoo) and about 2,000 link to the www. version of the domain name, so I used the DNS service at my registrar to redirect the www. to the non www. name.

This has worked fine for the most part, but I still occasionally have people pop up and tell me that I've done it wrong. The biggest problem is that when someone does a marketleap analysis on my sites, they always use a www. and my sites show very poor results. I guess it would only matter if I was going to sell one of these sites though.

If I had it to do all over again, I think I'd use the www. version.

takiye

3:39 pm on Sept 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Yes, I think so. You're right.
6:06 pm on Sept 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Almost all techies and well educated people already use the internet. That means the majority of new internet users are going to be the ma and pa's and less educated people. Ask a person who has never used the internet to decipher the following,

www.example.com/car/batteries.html

and,

example.com/car/batteries

Which one will take less time to explain?

If we want more people to use the internet (fresh clickers) then we need to simplify things as much as possible, in my opinion. Plenty of people out their that still can't figure out VCR's. You really want to push these people by creating long confusing URL's. These are the people I want to cater to. They are the most likely to click on ads.

6:14 pm on Sept 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

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To my knowledge here is what i think:

IP Addresses (A)

www.yourdomain.com = standard friendly sub domain name for all people which reprerents world wide web, we may set this ip address to the default port 80 for apache htdocs web servers.

yourdomain.com = however is the main domain name, of which if you think about it holds the www name as just a virtual host. Yourdomain.com may contain www. , images. , username. , and blank. may be used for an alternative httpd server in another country, for instance www. was a proxy layer that redirected vistors if it was overloaded to blank. or www2, where as blank. may take visitors naturaly without redirection as its least popular.

Thats all i have to say, but just remember their is sucvh think as blank. and www. that can load different servers running the same site.

:)

6:36 pm on Sept 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Ah, finally someone brings this up. Yes, correct. [www....] is outdated.

People should only need to type in the host in the browser. Due to an old protocol, billions of people are wasting time typing.

If you could rewrite the protocol, would you keep subdomains? Idea being, there is no easy way to tell the difference between subdomain.domain.xt1.xt2.xt3 vs domain.xt1.xt2. The protocol should allow programmers to automatically detect hostname by location within the url.

Reminds me of dvorak vs qwerty debate.

6:42 pm on Sept 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

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www.example.com/car/batteries.html

and,

example.com/car/batteries

Which one will take less time to explain?

So put example.com/car/batteries on your printed collateral and other marketing material. And when a request comes in to your system with no host name specified, redirect to a default host name such as www.

There is little harm in following the standard. However not following the standard may cause grief for you (or your replacement) down the road. If, in a few years, it becomes apparent that you would like HTTP requests with no hostname to be handled by something other than a webserver, it will be too late to go back and ask the owners of 2000 inbound links to update them to "www."

7:27 pm on Sept 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

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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.
7:28 pm on Sept 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

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double-u double-u double-u dot get rid of it dot com
7:43 pm on Sept 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

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After 10 years, there are now billions of people in the world that have learned that web adresses start with a "www" (some may never have used the internet, but still know it from TV etc). Now you want to change that again and train all those people that they should write the URLs without "www"? What for?
8:05 pm on Sept 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

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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.

www.example.library

www.example.museum.au

balanced?

So put example.com/car/batteries on your printed collateral and other marketing material. And when a request comes in to your system with no host name specified, redirect to a default host name such as www.

Why would a technical person see a valid URL and tack on a "www." for no reason whatsoever? Only a non-technical person would most likely do this. Then again, a non-technical person would just type it like it is written. A 301 redirect will solve the illiteracy problem.

Besides, the absolute best reason to get rid of the "www." is that you will no longer sound like a geek when you talk about your website. My website is example dot com, not double you double you double you dot example dot com. Why stop at "www.", if we want to make sure no one makes a mistake finding your website we should say,

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

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