Why it's there, and why it shouldn't
The majority of websites still insist on having
www. in their domain name, such as
www.example.com. I can tell you why it's there. It comes from a time where "domain names" or "host names" were less about websites, and more about mapping names to computers with the Domain Name System (DNS). System administrators would (and still do) have DNS records that map
mail.example.com to their mail server, or
ftp.example.com to their File Transfer Protocol (FTP) host. The
www.example.com hostname became ubiquitous for the computer that hosted and ran the company's website on the World Wide Web (
So there's your history on
www., and it seems harmless no? Sure, but I also hate it. It's funny,
W is the only character in English with more than one syllable, let alone three. So having to communicate your domain to someone takes an extra ten syllables! It takes longer to type, it takes up more space in the URL bar, it takes more ink to print on banners and billboards, and I've certainly not heard anyone call it the "World Wide Web" in the last century. Afraid of losing users? Fear not, you can still have your
www. and redirect it to the non-www as I have on this very site.
There are two arguments in favour of keeping the
www. The first is that you can't have a CNAME record on the root domain. Sure, that's a limitation with DNS at the moment, but I can't name one reputable site that uses a CNAME to redirect visitors rather than use a
301 Redirect, as users would get red "certificate not trusted" screens in their browsers. The second is that if you save a cookie on the root domain, it then applies to all subdomains. They argue that you needlessly send cookies and use up bandwidth making requests for an image from
static.example.com if you set a cookie on the root domain. Well this argument is no longer valid now that all major browsers support the
hostOnly cookie flag which fixes exactly this issue.
There's my little rant on
www. and the needless legacy garbage that it is.