W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-ig@w3.org > July to September 1999

Re: Citation of URLs

From: Kynn Bartlett <kynn-hwg@idyllmtn.com>
Date: Fri, 09 Jul 1999 09:48:01 -0700
Message-Id: <4.1.19990709093321.022ac2b0@mail.idyllmtn.com>
To: Brian Kelly <b.kelly@ukoln.ac.uk>
Cc: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
At 03:46 AM 7/9/1999 , Brian Kelly wrote:
>The following have been suggested:

It all depends on the use, really.  If they're going to be
"clickable" or potentially so, in some way, then I recommend
one of the first two.  They have the advantage that the URL
is clearly and cleanly delimited, since angle brackets <>
can't be part of URLs without encoding.  If you are going to
use a URL "inline" in a sentence, it's best to use brackets
as well, such as <http://aware.hwg.org/>.  If you didn't
use it, the punctuation could be confusing.

For uses in which the URL is set off from surrounding text,
such as a signature or ad, you can go without the brackets,
as in my signature file.  I would avoid the use of simply
the machine name part of the URL in print whenever possible,
unless there's some sort of space limitations.

On the radio or in person (voice), I suggest ALWAYS omitting
the "http://" part _unless_ you're quoting something that
doesn't start with "www" -- such as the AWARE Center site as
has been noted already.  (BTW, look for a new alternate URL
soon with a www prefix.)

Two more important things about URLs.  If you can, you should
learn how to do "redirects" on the server level -- sending a
new HTTP "Location" header transparently.  The reasons for
this are:

(1) You should never give out a long URL to ANYTHING, if you
    control the URLs, unless the URL will be clickable or
    pastable (and even then you might want to reconsider doing
    it).  For example, let's say that I want to refer to
    something I wrote last year about voice browsers.  I could
    use the following URL:


    That's very long, though.  Imagine reading it out loud!  My
    apologies to screenreader users!  It will also be hard for
    someone to type from a magazine.

    Instead, I have used a feature on my server (Apache) to
    automatically redirect requests, transparent to the user. 
    The line in my .htaccess file looks like this:

      Redirect /+voice http://www.hwg.org/opcenter/w3c/voicebrowsers.html

    This says "any requests for /+voice should be sent to the
    big long URL."  This means that when I want to refer to the
    voice browser paper, I can use the following URL:


    Much easier, plus it's even readable!  "dubba you dubba you
    dubba you dot kynn dot com slash plus-sign voice."

    [Why the plus sign?  I give all my 'redirect links' a + prefix
    although it's not necessary.  It helps with organization and
    looks unusual -- so I get asked what it means!]

(2) If you are doing advertising of any kind, you will want to
    track the effectiveness of your ads.  You can use redirects
    and the system log to do this.  Let's say that I placed an ad
    in The WAI Journal of Accessible Web Design (no such thing
    exists, of course).  I would set up the following redirect:

      Redirect /wai http://www.kynn.com/

    This means that I would publish the following URL:


    My server would record this hit as a redirection, and would
    then forward it on to my main page.  Thus, I know how many
    people reached me because of my ad in the WAI journal.

I guess the latter isn't really an accessibility consideration,
but the first one might be thought of as such.

Anyway, hope this helps.

Kynn Bartlett                                    mailto:kynn@hwg.org
President, HTML Writers Guild                    http://www.hwg.org/
AWARE Center Director                          http://aware.hwg.org/
Received on Friday, 9 July 1999 12:59:17 UTC

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