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    The main non-technical reason I argue for leaving the www. in URLs is that it serves as a gentle reminder that there are other services than the Web on the Internet.

    I don’t really follow this. A non-technical user is supposed to look at a URL with “www” in it and somehow infer the existence of URLs that refer to things other than web pages? Even when 99% of the URLs they see—including ones with bare domains and ones with subdomains other than “www”—refer to web addresses?

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      The main non-technical reason I argue for leaving the www. in URLs is that it serves as a gentle reminder that there are other services than the Web on the Internet.

      It’s only a gentle reminder that browsers still, in 2019, don’t support DNS SRV for HTTP.

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        The thing is, in 1996 almost everyone on the Internet knew how to type in a URL… Back then, virtually everyone dutifully typed http://www.pepsi.com/ into Mosaic or Netscape

        Is that really true? I remember posters for The Matrix that had “AOL Keyword: Matrix” on them instead of a URL.

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          I think what the author of that quote is missing is that back in 1996 pretty much everyone on the internet was professionally competent in computers or a hobbiest; in either case they would take pride in knowing how things work.

          By the turn of the Millennium when the Matrix came out thanks in part due to companies like Compaq, Gateway and Packard Bell there were millions of novices with no real interest in the details of how a computer worked (or why) who were connected to the internet and around that time search engines had begun to become how people found information on the internet.

          Therefore it makes sense that a poster would have an AOL Keyword circa 2000 rather than a web address because the lowest common denominator won out.

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            That was 1999

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            More people than you realize will take a URL, go to their favorite search engine, and type the URL into the search engine’s search field, never realizing they can actually edit the contents of the address bar above, [snip]

            I paint this bleak picture primarily for the benefit of Internet veterans [snip]

            If my description of “normal” users above surprised, shocked or disappointed you, you’re the target audience.

            Hmm. I don’t see this as bleak at all. I see this as a great advancement in tech, as now even non-technical users have no problem navigating to any site they wish. What would they have done before search engines? I suspect they would have been locked out because it was too hard to use at the time.

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              now even non-technical users have no problem navigating to any site they wish.

              That doesn’t sound like the situation described. The situation described in the text you quoted says that non-technical users are only capable of visiting sites their search engine allows them to visit. It’s adding an additional layer or tracking and another opportunity for censorship, but only to non-technical users.

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                says that non-technical users are only capable of visiting sites their search engine allows them to visit.

                Sure. What would those users have done before search engines?

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                  In the described case, and many I’ve seen over others’ shoulders, they are typing the URL they want to visit into a search engine. Without a search engine, they would do the same thing I do when I don’t have a bookmark to a site I want to visit that I haven’t visited in the past: type it in the URL bar or browser start page. They might get a character wrong, in which case they are no more susceptible to phishing and other problems as if they were doing the same into a search engine.

                  I don’t think this in itself is much worse, but it does teach non-technical users to ignore that search engines are web sites, and instead they think it’s their browser. But it seems inevitable.

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                    I don’t think they’re typing the URL into the search engine. They’re typing the name of what they want into the search engine, like “facebook”. Google trends comparison. Edit: another common variation is “[service_name] login”.

                    they would … type it in the URL bar or browser start page.

                    Hmm, that’s exactly what the article’s author is complaining about - people not doing this because they don’t realize it’s a feature. I think the root cause of this is that users don’t understand what URLs are.

                    And why should they? They can just type “facebook” into whatever input field is focused when the browser opens and eventually end up where they want. Had the user typed 4 more characters (”.com”) and into the browser’s URL bar instead, they’d end up at the same place and save the step of clicking a search result. Even an average person understands saving time and effort. So why don’t they do it?

                    I think we’re assuming the average user is way more savvy than reality.

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                      I think users will do the least that they have to. I think then that not requiring they know the difference between a website and their computer should not be confusable!

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                        The article is saying they are going to a search page and entering the URL into the search. While a start page or address bar may also go to a search page, the browser will first attempt the text as a URL! (and in my case, neither is enabled to search - I have a search bar for that.)

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                  Maybe I’m being dense but I don’t see any difference between

                  “type the exact digits into the phone application on your mobile”

                  “type the exact website address into the browser address bar”

                  from a point of usability. Imagine browsers never had added the omnibar.

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                    I would guess it’s something between the learning curve and level of standardization. Phones give you clear feedback that you did something wrong but provide zero help when you dial incorrectly, besides telling you that you did so. Omnibars provide suggestions that, with today’s very smart search engines, are almost always what you wanted. Browsers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but phone dial pads are always the same. Phone numbers (at least, when dialing domestically) are always the same length and format. Web addresses have much more variation.

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                    What would they have done before search engines?

                    What my parents and my grand parents eventually had to do, they would have learnt.

                    That being said as an internet “veteran” of 25 years I still find it more convenient to type the name of a company into the nav bar and have my search engine of choice display a series of links of which the first one is usually what I am after rather than type in the whole url.

                    All I can say is my teenage self would have been very disappointed if they saw how I navigate the internet today, what can I say? The lowest common denominator won out; in technology you either adapt or you die.

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                    they don’t understand that the Web is not the whole of the Internet

                    Why should they understand it? A piece of software’s job is to get out of the way and let the user do whatever they want, and the way browsers handle www. these days seems like it’s doing a good job of that.

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                      I wish it was called web.. One syllable is far more convenient in speech than nine.

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                        I also wondered if the english speaking world would change “double-u” into something shorter now that we say “www” so often. Turns out we rather got rid of the “www” instead of the “double-u”.

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                          I shorten it to “dub”. So www is “dub dub dub”.

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                          Just pronounce it “woooo” :)

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                            I say “triple double-U”, which is only five syllables.

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                            This is the status quo, by the way. Facebook implements this. www is the canonical URL, and bare domain redirects to www.