Web addresses and emails are stealing my life

Katie_pinkcrochetThe news that URLs and emails will soon no longer be governed by the laws of western keyboards is exciting indeed. But who knows what kinds of meltdown it’s going to cause in the brains of the country’s normals.

Normals, for those of you who haven’t subscribed to “Katie’s modern dictionary of made up words”, are what I call people who don’t spend every single second of their lives staring slack-jawed at the internet. Some might say they are the people who have a life, but I remain unconvinced. I know quite a few normals, and they definitely aren’t as interesting as the internet.

The problem these normal people have is that the internet is still a strange and mysterious place to them. And because of that, they waste precious seconds of my life every single time I have to tell them a URL or email address.

Now I realise that in writing this column I’m going to make myself sound insufferable. The fact is, people who don’t understand the web still outnumber the rest of us freaks, and I’m well-aware of the fact that I should be more patient. I also know that in writing this I sound like I am lacking in basic social skills.

But the simple fact is, I *am* lacking in basic social skills: I’m a web nerd. Plus, I’m writing this on the internet so I’m banking on the fact that no one it applies to will be reading it. Which means we freaks can all have a good old derisory snort at their expense.

Here are the things that drive me mad when giving out emails and URLs.

“Is that all one word?”
Of course it’s all one word! If it wasn’t all one word I’d have said “Katie hyphen Lee” or “Katie dot Lee”. Not that I’d be mad enough to stick a hyphen into my email address, knowing how much more confusion that would cause.

“Is that all lowercase?”
It troubles me that people are still under the illusion that this makes the slightest difference. I know that companies often cause confusion by writing email addresses that use a mixture of uppercase and lowercase, but – again – it’s fairly safe to assume that if it mattered, we’d all be saying “Uppercase K lowercase a, t, i, e”.

“Is that www?”
Douglas Adams once pointed out that www. actually takes longer to say than “world wide web”. Which is why so many of us have stopped bothering to include it when handing out URLs. This sends some people into a bit of a tizzy.

Obviously, sometimes you shouldn’t include the www. and that is where the confusion is caused. However, that’s why god invented the Google toolbar. It’s quicker for you to type the URL and check it than it is for the poor soul on the phone to say “double u double u double u DOT.” The same goes for the people who, in meetings, want you to read out the full URL to a website you’re discussing so they can look it up on their computer (thereby giving them something to read while you try to continue your presentation).

I appreciate this last one makes me particularly unfair, but I’m fairly sure that irratingly smug webheads like me are on the pet peeves list of every normal out there. And they already feel superior enough about the fact that they have a “life”. As if “life” could ever be complete without an encylopedic knowledge of the best kitten videos on YouTube and an ability to return to the desktop without having to minimise each and every single window in turn.

Right, I’m off to leave sarcastic troll comments on Yahoo Answers.

Katie Lee

Dork Adore's Editor! Katie started out life as a tech journalist and blog obsessive, launching the UK's first and biggest blog publishing network, Shiny Media. Favourite dork things: knitting, crochet, Press Gang, Buffy, Battlestar, Doctor Who and lifehacks.

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  1. Darika says

    Boring fact: In NZ they say “dubdubdub” instead of “www”

    Still pointless but potentially enriching for your encylopedic knowledge of all things internet related.

  2. says

    My mother still asks me what my website ‘number’ is. And then proceeds to type it into google, not the address bar. AGRHEGHJGEFDBHVJBREOHEWWJK.

  3. Charles says

    Essentially, there should be some sort of short course people can/have to go on if they want to talk to slightly misanthropic web people. All that stuff could be covered off pretty easily and everyone’s lives would be much improved.

    Of course, others would say it’s the slightly misanthropic web people who need to change. But they would obviously be morons.

  4. says

    I’ve never, not once, in what must be 8yrs had to spell my email address to anybody.

    It would seem everybody in the world can spell “jaffacake”. Some people seem obsessed by using .com instead of .net but that’s not a problem as I own that too.

    In short, nobody has ever failed to send me an email – unlike my crappy work address that is what I call a morse code address – full of dots and dashes…

  5. says

    Confession: I consider myself to be a web nerd, but sometimes forget the word ‘hyphen’. This usually happens early in the morning, but that’s no excuse.
    “No, you know the line in the middle that isn’t an underscore…”
    I think I need to pull out the ‘English isn’t my first language’ card more often.

  6. NoSheds says

    As well as missing out the www, I’ve had a couple of people miss out the dots because it’s quicker…
    e.g. bbc co uk

    go figure!

      • NoSheds says

        Yes but some sites don’t work if you don’t include the www just as some sites won’t work if you include it. Not all sites start with www, some start with ww2 or ww3 (I’ve checked!). The www is part of the address and if you omit it, how is someone to know if you are being lazy, or if it is a site that doesn’t have one? If it’s there, quote it!

        You don’t leave out your postcode because everyone knows where your town is do you?

        Anyway, how hard is it to get wwww right? – it’s not exactly hard to type 😉

        • says

          The sad part is, I work in IT, so I’m aware that it does matter. Although I have cleverly built a website that doesn’t require it myself, simply because I keep hitting the comma when trying to do the dot after www.

  7. Ben Rose says

    Most sites now work with just the domain name and no host, e.g. http://jaffacake.net will work just as well as http://www.jaffacake.net

    Some people, however, use really bad DNS hosting that doesn’t support this configuration and they can only create ‘A’ records for real hostnames e.g. www.

    www should always be stated, not implied, if required. Many people use alternative vhosts now like http://news.bbc.co.uk or http://photos.jaffacake.net – www does not point to the same place at all.

    • says

      I don’t agree – if a site doesn’t work, I simply try it with or without the www, which is quicker than the other person having to say double u double u double u dot. Which is what I said in the piece too! I didn’t suggest that they all pointed to the same place!

      • Ben Rose says

        As somebody said above, “dubdubdub” is a far better way if you don’t want to say the whole URL.

        Giving out a URL that simply doesn’t work is a PITA to anybody who has ever worked in IT tech support.

        The easiest way is just to setup the DNS properly.

      • NoSheds says

        I agree in one sense – if I try a site and it doesn’t work with/without www I will add/remove it and try again.
        I entirely disagree in another sense – if you’re quoting a website address, state the www if it has one – never omit it. You don’t omit the .com or .co.uk bit do you – I mean you could because people could guess, and/or the browser will often put it in for you, but just as amazon.com is not the same as amazon.co.uk, there is nothing mandating http://www.amazon.com be the same as amazon.com.
        Say, double u double u double u, because if you don’t, people may not know what you’re talking about.

        You say, people can type it into the google toolbar. I don’t know anyone who has google toolbar installed, and if they’re smart enough to have installed it, they’re likely to have worked out that a website that doesn’t work does/doesn’t require a www.

        You also say (in the original post) “Is that all lowercase?” ” it’s fairly safe to assume that if it mattered, we’d all be saying “Uppercase K”. As far as I know, the bit to the right of the @ sign is now officially designated as case insensitive – i.e. it doesn’t matter (RFC 4343), however in the (now obsoleted) RFC 822, it allows for the bit on the left to be case insensitive so it may be significant to the users email system (see http://markmail.org/message/c2f6jhr256crkd2h). In other words, someone somewhere may have an emails system where fred@example.com is not the same as Fred@example.com
        Why does this matter – because it’s the standards that make the internet work, and if we don’t follow the standards, we can end up with situations like in the bad old days of the browser wars where website didn’t work with with some browsers.

        • says

          It’s meant to be a funny personal column. I’m not implying I’m right, I’m just saying I get frustrated with the time taken up saying “yes it’s all lowercase” when I would have made it clear that it isn’t all lowercase.

          Also, Firefox has a google search bar. I very rarely type a URL given to me. And yes, I would say – and will continue to say in spite of any uber-geek arguments to the contrary – bbcdotcodotuk and miramusdotcom. Somehow Lastminute.com has survived.

          The people who haven’t got a www. in front of their websites are the ones who can waste their lives saying http://URL.

          • Ben Rose says

            I think we all agree with the sentiments of the original post but the resulting comments prove just how much of a mess this whole thing is. You simply cannot please all of the people all the time.

            Some people like it short and concise. Some like it to always work and have no implied prefix and finally we have the complete geeks who don’t care as long as it complies with a load of RFCs that regularly even contradict themselves.

            Nobody is right or wrong here, they are just opinions. It’s like me saying that my local pizza shop is phone number 859760 – the RFC brigade would insist there needs to be a dialing code but, in reality, if you’re not in the same dialing code they won’t deliver anyway.

            I run an extremely large corporate email system. About twice a month we bounce an email literally addressed to “first.last@”, I’ve even seen them addressed to myfirstname.mylastname@ – just shows how stupid some people are.

            Personally I’d make people undertake basic training and pass a test before they go online. We do it for driving and people going online without basic AV etc. can be as much of a danger to society.

          • NoSheds says

            Sorry I think I got a bit carried away (there’s an app for that!).

            I can understand you getting frustrated saying something over and over, but just wait until there’s the patter of little feet, and you have to say no you can’t do that 65 times, and respond to repeated “why”s – that beats “is it all lower case” into a cocked hat!

            When you said google toolbar, I thought you meant *THE* Google toolbar, not the google search box thing in Firefox. ISWYM now.

            All the sites you mention, bbc.co.uk miramus.com and lastminute.com all automatically redirect by their server to www; not all sites are created equal though.

            Anyway, I remember the days when I had to explain what a slash was, and which one you needed to enter – “no it’s the one to the right of the M key at the bottom of the keyboard” so what are you complaining about! :-)

          • NoSheds says

            Replying to Ben,
            I agree with the sentiments in the post, and that you can’t please all the people all the time.

            I’ve been a programmer, so I know that unless you’re clear about what people want, they might not get what they think they’ve asked for. In other words I’m an Uber pedant. Consequently, you phone example, if I were being pedantic, I might ask for a country code to. You say that they won’t deliver if if a different area code, but that’s not true: Pizza places can be at the edge of a phone code area and deliver to a different area. People can order from their mobile phone, and the number without the code is useless on a mobile. My mobile lists all my contacts as starting with +44 but I never send or receive calls from outside the country – I’ve never heard anyone complain about that – it’s accurate.
            I think I’ll go and take my medication now…

          • Ben Rose says

            LOL, you didn’t need to tell me you’re a programmer – takes one to know one.

            I used to be a lot like you too, thankfully the medication worked :)

            End SUB

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