Off-topic rant time! Sysadmins, designers and marketers, please stop feeling the need to include the www subdomain when giving out your website’s address and bouncing visitors who didn’t include the www to a rewritten URL with the www in it – and even worse than that, domains that only accept connections aimed at the www sub, stop it. Just go with the domain, ideally, if it’s not too much to ask of you, with the www requests being rewritten to the domain stripped of the sub. Let’s phase out the www for everyone’s sake.

Why? Well, how about you tell me why we all should still use it? A purist who wants to remind the world that there are other services still in use that are traditionally assigned subs? What, you got some super fancy setup where you don’t want your root server with the top A record doing any web work? C’mon. I’m not saying don’t accept connections to a www sub but at the least accept incoming 80 connections to your site without the www, don’t go out of your way to broadcast yourself with the www (like have Google list you with the extraneous sub) and please don’t rewrite from the domain to the www.

Now I’ll tell you why: By keeping this deprecated practice alive you keep the masses in the habit of presuming that it is necessary, when telling someone how to go to some site, to first say double-you double-you double-you dot, they’re reciting ten syllables on top of the rest of the web address. It wastes lateral space on business cards, on computer screens, on phone screens where space is tight enough for browsing. We managed to phase out people having to say http://, now it’s the www’s turn. Think of how many bytes we’d save all over the Internet if we joined together and did this. Mind blown, right?

We once did what I’m preaching against, bouncing mobilitydigest.com/author/doug-simmons requests to a superfluously long http://www.mobilitydigest.com/author/doug-simmons/. Our domain name is long enough as it is and we did not fit into the special needs category to have any reason to do that. So after complaining a lot to no avail I made an effort for a little while to write decent articles in order to give the boss the impression that I am an asset whose quirks should be accommodated in order to shut him up.

In this instance, Doug Smith had little (if any) idea what I was talking about, mod rewrite this and .htaccess that and eventually said Okay okay just don’t break anything. I zapped it off and now we do the opposite, told Google we’re no longer being that lame and to adjust their records accordingly – victory. No regrets from anyone here since I did this, no apparent SEO complications, and I’m happy along with any of our visitors who think along the lines of these guys.

This is my biggest complaint about Google, that they bounce people to a www URL. What’s up with that, Google? Lead the way like you’re sort of doing with HTML5.

Anyway, if I managed to convert anyone, if any of you have now seen the light and want to do the right thing, here’s the code to drop into .htaccess files (for Apache with mod_rewrite enabled):

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www.(.+)$ [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://%1/$1 [R=301,L]

Go on now and do the right thing.

Doug Simmons

6 COMMENTS

  1. I’m trying to come up with my next off topic rant … any ideas? Not phone stuff, too scared to weigh in on that, feel like I’m in enemy territory with all these wp7 nuts. Gotta let that cool down.

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