Web 2.0 meet Tilde

by Robert Cooper

Just a thought here, but out of all these Web 2.0 sites that have user pages... for instance out of my personal collection:

http://www.last.fm/user/kebernet
http://flickr.com/photos/kebernet
http://allconsuming.net/person/kebernet/
http://del.icio.us/kebernet
http://wiki.java.net/bin/view/People/RobertCooper

Why don't we go back to the way-back days of using http://host.tld/~username? It worked so well for a long time and while the ~ key might be a mystery to "mom", at least it was a convention. For all the talk about pretty and intuitive URLs, this seems like an easy one that time has forgotten.

12 Comments

Gregor J. Rothfuss
2006-11-25 17:13:00
Good luck finding the tilde on a non-US keyboard. Good riddance.
Martiner
2006-11-25 17:51:23
Because ~ is exoctic to newbies thus difficult to write (find on the keyboard)?
jeremiah johnson
2006-11-25 20:39:36
i agree: tildes have a place, and their place is the user page URL.
cooper
2006-11-25 23:08:14
Well, Gregor, if AltGr+Shift is hard, how do your "cd" to user directories on unix?


I admit, the ~ is exotic, and might be hard for the proverbial "My Mother" but "My Mother" has already found the @ key -- one which I have adjusted to on the C=/Amiga/Sun/PC keyboards already in my tenure. Heck, I really wouldn't care if we changed to the @ key, but having a default designation for user@host.tld... wait... You know what I mean..

Davide
2006-11-27 01:15:48
please note that the ~ key isn't available on every keyboard (i have an italian one), so it's not that easy to write it.
Peter
2006-11-27 01:25:39
What's actually wrong with http://url/username anyway? I think it's more intuitive the way it is now.
At least the @ character makes some kind of sense.
cooper
2006-11-27 05:00:04
What's actually wrong with http://url/username anyway? I think it's more intuitive the way it is now.


Well, url/username doesn't denote "user" in the context like ~username does (did). There is no implicit difference between company.com/product and company.com/person.

Derek Sunshine
2006-11-27 08:42:56
Using tilde is consistent with how Unix systems work. And it would work great if most web users were Unix savvy - except they're not. I think all technically savvy folks assume that the general public has the same experiences and knowledge; they don't.


Jakob Neilsen has a classic article on URLs and usability.


http://www.useit.com/alertbox/990321.html


While Neilsen doesn't speak to tildes directly, they would constitute an extra character in the URL, adding to the overall complexity of the URL. One fewer character means one less chance to mistype the URL.


cooper
2006-11-27 08:48:47
"And it would work great if most web users were Unix savvy - except they're not. "


Perhaps the point about an extra character is valid, but it seems to me convention is better. Besides, compare:
http://flickr.com/photos/kebernet
http://flickr.com/~kebernet


Seems to me I just saved some characters. While I am honestly stunned that some keyboards don't have a ~ -- how someone in Italy would use a *nix machine without it astounds me -- making the proverbial "my mom" familiar with ~ is no different that @ or explaining to them that email addresses don't have spaces. It is just one of those things that after a little while seeps into common knowledge and you don't have to explain it to everyone anymore.


Gaetano
2006-12-01 00:21:43
In Linux with italian keyboard the Tilde is produced with:


AltGr + ^


but in Windows no...

Dominic Mitchell
2006-12-01 01:47:01
Maybe because ~ is an invalid character in an URL?
jpkones
2006-12-10 19:02:44
Wow, slow news day?


What a terrible post.
-grumpy