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on "Make readable URIs": don't rely on users to remember/type URIs

From: Dan Connolly <connolly@w3.org>
Date: Thu, 03 Feb 2005 09:52:28 -0600
To: www-qa@w3.org
Message-Id: <1107445948.20948.4.camel@localhost>

I disagree with the main point of this draft QA tip, and
I have a number of comments on the details as well.

  Draft - Make readable URIs

It seems quite counter to the principles of web architecture:

It is tempting to guess the nature of a resource by inspection of a URI
that identifies it. However, the Web is designed so that agents
communicate resource information state through representations, not
identifiers. In general, one cannot determine the type of a resource
representation by inspecting a URI for that resource. For example, the
".html" at the end of "http://example.com/page.html" provides no
guarantee that representations of the identified resource will be served
with the Internet media type "text/html". The publisher is free to
allocate identifiers and define how they are served.
  -- http://www.w3.org/TR/webarch/#uri-opacity

Let's please do *not* encourage users to remember nor type URIs.

I don't think this is established as best practice:

Use directories instead of ?aid=342h987f2 


Today it is common for persons to use different computers and browsers,
which do not readily synchronize bookmarks with each other. If your page
use URIs like "http://www.site.com/fishing/" instead of
"http://www.site.com/?aid=342h987f2", it is more likely that users will
be able to remember the URI for later reference. Thus they will avoid
excessive use of search engines, and won't need to find the link on your
possibly over-crowded first page.
  -- http://www.w3.org/QA/Tips/readable-uri

In what way is use of search engines "excessive"?
Using search engines and navigating from one page
to another is to be encouraged, not discouraged.

So much for my main point; on to relatively smaller comments...

Most (all?) web servers will serve
"http://www.site.com/fishing/index.shtml" (or whichever extension) if
you type the address "www.site.com/fishing" in the address field of the

Not all. That's a server-side convention, not an HTTP protocol

I don't know what "This should work even if you submit variables in the
URI." means at all.

"Upgrade your web server as needed" seems counter productive. Give
links specific documentation for the most popular 2 or 3 servers.

Dan Connolly, W3C http://www.w3.org/People/Connolly/
D3C2 887B 0F92 6005 C541  0875 0F91 96DE 6E52 C29E
Received on Thursday, 3 February 2005 15:52:30 UTC

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