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Using "www" In Front Of A Subdomain.


Skemcin
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I'm tired of having this conversation with clients. How do you feel about going through the hassle to accommodate this request. I've set up subdomain applications to run dynamically off the prefix - apples.domain.com, pears.domain.com, banana.domain.com, cherry.domain.com, etc. - all pull unique content based on the subdomain. Adding the "www" in front of that just seems a waste of time when all the marketing materials do not include it.Anyone else having to deal with this, please share your thoughts, arguments for or against. Please, I just want to understand if I simply have too much faith in users these days or if this is still a legitimate concern.NOTE: Please do not offer programatic or configuration solutions - I can do that. I'm just looking for a theoretical or even statistical discussion

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I think it just makes URLs look even longer and more complicated. Unfortunately, I see people do it all the time. Some people seem to think that the "www" is necessary on all URLs.I see people on deviantART that write deviantART URLs as www.help.deviantart.com.It might have been better that domains had never been prefixed with 'www' to begin with. When did it start and why? I don't see any good reasons for it.

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Please, I just want to understand if I simply have too much faith in users these days or if this is still a legitimate concern.
Sadly, you have too much faith. It's much less painless to set up another DNS or host record to point www to the same place. I've seen this happen a lot, literally every single thing we host is on a subdomain. I've had to go back in and add www records for several subdomains where the client reports that people are having problems accessing it because they're typing www before it. For us, it's not really possible to tell our clients to specifically say not to use www, because one client might have 5000 or 10000 people or whatever trying to access it, and it just makes more sense to add another record. But for some reason when a lot of users see a domain name they always type www before it. Even if you write it in quotes. Even if you say not to write www (they don't read the instructions anyway, so what's the point). I've even seen people that I work with at the office here do the same thing, and these are people that have been accessing our subdomains for the past 5 years or whatever. I'll set up a new one and tell someone to go there to test it and they type www first. It makes me want to beat them about the head and shoulders, but that's frowned upon around here.If beating people about the head and shoulders is an option for you, I would recommend that first.
When did it start and why? I don't see any good reasons for it.
In the early days it was to separate several servers on a domain, you might have mail.domain.com which handled the mail, database.domain.com for database servers or whatever, and www was the web server. Now people set up DNS to just point the domain to the web server. Edited by justsomeguy
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If beating people about the head and shoulders is an option for you, I would recommend that first.
:):):) Ha!
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I think the "www." prefix started due to the first browser - the WorldWideWeb browser. "www." was probably a prefix that signaled content that should be viewed by it. Because the system was poorly understood at its early days, people initially wrote "www." in front of all domains. Only later (at the dotcom boom) this basically turned into a convention. Site authors knew they could go without the "www.", but it was already too late to teach users otherwise.Also, perhaps it was a print issue. Showing "example.com" could be ambiguous in some cases (e.g. "See the comlinks.com sites..." vs. "See the comlinks. Com sites..."). In email, the @ was used as a disambiguition character. The "www." was used for the same purpose on web sites... not that anyone would type an email in their browser (or vise versa), but still...I don't really have this "conversation" with clients. Rather, I get sort of "support calls" for it, after they try to access their sites on their own. I show them the site (live), or give them a link (email, skype or whatever), and it works. They see it works. Later, they come and say "Why isn't my site working?". I'm like "Are you sure you typed it in correctly", and they say "Yeah. W W W", at which point I cut them out and tell them "No. It's without 'www'. Did you tried it that way?", after which they learn the whole "www." story, and accept it.To maximize compatibility and user expectations though, I too create redirecting scripts.That is, every time one types in a domain with "www.", they are redirected to its "www."-less equivalent. I use redirects instead of aliasing in this case for SEO purposes - we don't want duplicating content sharing PR or something. Since the last (second) time I've had to go over this story, I've decided to give up and always do it from now on, whether clients ask for it or not.Honestly, I go over this (user expectations vs. reality) in pretty much everything I do. The main thing I do is to (re)install people's Windows-es. You won't believe the stuff that people take for granted these days. I just can't afford to let a computer go without forcing people to wait a few hours after Windows is installed. "YouTube isn't working!", "How do I download movies?" (torrent ones...), "Why don't I hear the music?", "Why can't I watch this movie? Before, I was able to." are just the most common kind of questions I get if someone says "I'm in a hurry. I'll take it now", then comes in a day later due to one of these (or other) problems. Such customers have learned the hard way to let me finish up before they get their PCs. Some of them even start saying "If you want, I can come tomorrow? Just call me when it's ready."... but they rarely do that the first time. They still need to learn the hard way. Same with domain names. You can keep telling them that domains with "www." and without it are different domains, but before they understand, they still need to experience a case where one loaded, and the other didn't.

Edited by boen_robot
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:) ok - will everyone please edit your posts to what I want to hear - lolARRGGHalright - I can accept all that and under typical hosted (third party) situations it is fairly easily managed. Outside of work I can very easily accommodate this with wild cards and ColdFusion server side logic accommodating this in code. However, at work, the environment and configuration of our ISP is not as conducive to these situations - there is a lot more work and cost (ongoing with each defined) involved.And in my experience at work we've honored requests for almost 20 subdomains sites to have "www" defined and when we turned them off three months ago only two business units came back with the request and it turned out it was because of a misprint in a marketing piece.I'm gonna try to stand my ground (at work) on this one although I appreciate and understand the concerns. No one said changing the (world wide web) culture would be easy but darn it, I'm gonna try. :)
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Sadly, you have too much faith. It's much less painless to set up another DNS or host record to point www to the same place. I've seen this happen a lot, literally every single thing we host is on a subdomain. I've had to go back in and add www records for several subdomains where the client reports that people are having problems accessing it because they're typing www before it. For us, it's not really possible to tell our clients to specifically say not to use www, because one client might have 5000 or 10000 people or whatever trying to access it, and it just makes more sense to add another record. But for some reason when a lot of users see a domain name they always type www before it. Even if you write it in quotes. Even if you say not to write www (they don't read the instructions anyway, so what's the point). I've even seen people that I work with at the office here do the same thing, and these are people that have been accessing our subdomains for the past 5 years or whatever. I'll set up a new one and tell someone to go there to test it and they type www first. It makes me want to beat them about the head and shoulders, but that's frowned upon around here.If beating people about the head and shoulders is an option for you, I would recommend that first.In the early days it was to separate several servers on a domain, you might have mail.domain.com which handled the mail, database.domain.com for database servers or whatever, and www was the web server. Now people set up DNS to just point the domain to the web server.
I have to agree. For whatever reason people just think they have to start with www.Before I got hired at my current job the company did not even have a website but had a couple of domains for their network and email. A number of the subdomains were setup with a www. The reasoning? It was just easier to do that then deal with even a few phone calls about the domains not working.
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  • 2 weeks later...

Most browsers recognize a web address without www, which is why I rarely type www. I think it would be easier if browsers started to disregard www or list it as a particular domain where anything can exist after it. Although that creates more work than needed, but no one I know has ever had a problem with me giving them a direct link and telling to do it exactly as it says on the paper. :)

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Most browsers recognize a web address without www, which is why I rarely type www. I think it would be easier if browsers started to disregard www or list it as a particular domain where anything can exist after it. Although that creates more work than needed, but no one I know has ever had a problem with me giving them a direct link and telling to do it exactly as it says on the paper. :)
The problem is that on the server, they have to redirect the requests with 'www' on them to the main domain. And they shouldn't have to do that.Imagine a site that doesn't work when you append 'www' to the URL.
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UPDATEI stood my ground and the application I'm working on will NOT use www as a prefix, even in a defensive manor. Instead, I've convinced my boss to (finally) utilize the custom error pages in IIS. I will gladly post a future update to this decision to communicate any volume of calls to our support center.In the process of "standing my ground" I made sure the print design folks made sure the addresses were given a clear, distinctive treatment to make them stand out just a little more than they have in the past.Again, I'll keep you posted. :)

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I think it would be easier if browsers started to disregard www or list it as a particular domain where anything can exist after it.
You can't break DNS functionality though, the web requires subdomains. It wouldn't really be fair to treat one subdomain differently than all the others, it would probably lead to unexpected problems. In the meantime, you can just type "w3schools" and hit ctrl-enter to add the www and com.
The problem is that on the server, they have to redirect the requests with 'www' on them to the main domain.
It's not really a big deal, it just requires one extra DNS record.
I will gladly post a future update to this decision to communicate any volume of calls to our support center.
I'd be interested to see the results of that.
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They should deprecate it when the next time they release a new version of browser.
It's not a client-side thing. Normal people who browse the web don't know anything about standards. They are the ones appending www to the URLs.There are only two ways to deal with them:
  1. Redirect the 'www' subdomain to the main domain
  2. Don't display a page in the www subdomain, or display a page that tells users to remove the www from the domain.

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There are only two ways to deal with them:
  1. Redirect the 'www' subdomain to the main domain
  2. Don't display a page in the www subdomain, or display a page that tells users to remove the www from the domain.

Although this is correct and I understand you are responding a separate reply, I'll just reiterate to others that these two examples of dealing with the users' error still requires additional DNS definitions to be created. And in my situation (skipping the explanation as to why) each additional configuration breaks all the standards our internal server environments are build around and costs us x number of dollars more each month. I am partly tasked with cleaning up the mess and honoring our standards is the only way to do it (that's why they were created in the first place).So, it will be very interesting to see how our internal business units take the news, if/when they ask for the annoying www to be place in front of a subdomain. It will be even more interesting to see how much more attention to detail they pay when reviewing their print peices - to make sure the "www" is not there.
I'd be interested to see the results of that.
If I hear anything, I will let you know. These all hit the road next month. If I don't hear anything then you'll know I've done a pretty good job communicating to our business units how to handle the issues, our marketing was clear enough to avoid the user errors and/or it really is more of a mole hill than a mountain.:)
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