The URL Conundrum

Dean recently gave some good advice about how to write URLs that are people-friendly. While I agree with everything he said, it’s harder than it looks to make this work in practice.

We know that cool URIs don’t change, and that words are often better than numbers. The problem is that these two goals aren’t complementary. If you already have numbers in your URLs (which was MT‘s default when I started blogging), you have three options:

  • Change the URLs, potentially breaking many, many incoming links from elsewhere;
  • Change the URLs and do fancy redirections to ensure the old ones continue to work; or
  • Keep the bad URLs.

A while ago, I ran a link checker on Waileia. I was surprised to learn that all my links to a very prominent blogger were broken because this person switched from numbers to words without letting anybody know. I had to look up the new locations for all the links manually. If somebody who knows what they’re doing forgot this, imagine how it’s going to confuse a large number of casual bloggers.

HYCW offers a link to a solution at A List Apart, but I guarantee that nearly all bloggers will be clueless as to what the article is suggesting, let alone how to do it.

I’ve thought about making this change for a while, but have shied away because of the work I know it will entail. I may tackle this problem soon; if I do, I’ll try to write a how-to for the rest of you who want to do it the right way.

In the meantime, as the adage says, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” – even if it’s a little unsightly.

One thought on “The URL Conundrum

  1. I agree. Too much is being made of readable URLs; afterall, you have to ask, who is reading them? And why do they or i care? There are some real issues with pages with HTTP GET vars tacked on the end, but those issues don’t generally apply to a web log.

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