Domain-Scaping and Rational URLs

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This post has stuff about religion and a previous relationship. My perspective has changed

Over the years I have so thoroughly polluted my domain with dead URLs (mostly the result of an obsessive drive to purge irrelevant content) that I feel that I’ve committed some cosmic crime against the integrity of the internet. I just checked and I have 206 URLs that result in a 404. If the internet were a god, it would have banned me eternally to Yahoo Answers to pay for my sins. Seriously the worst website on the internet.

I remember back in 2009 when Jeff Atwood gave rise to Digital Sharecropping. That somehow eventually sparked the Own Your Dataconversation debate in which Jeffery Zeldman soberly declared that:

Cool URIs don’t change, they just fade away. When you die, nobody pays your hosting company, and your work disappears. Like that.

And in the process Zeldman forever connected digital permanence and well groomed URLs to the whole conversation. At least in my mind. File it under “Responsibilities of the Domain Administrator.” That’s you.

So I set out on a quest to make a rational decision about my website and how it should be structured. The result was simple.


  • All content goes under /archives/. I chose to use “archives” as the primary namespace for content rather than referring to it as “posts” or “articles.” The type of content (or perhaps my perspective of it) might change over time, but it is always archived. Doubtless, there is an even better word—more generic—but I have yet to think of it.
  • Don’t use dates to represent the location of content. Dates have implications. For example, one might think that because a post is old it is irrelevant. This simply isn’t the case (as is evidenced by the links above). By avoiding a date in the URL both “fresh” and “evergreen” content may co-exist in the same namespace. Should the date become important, I have the freedom to highlight it on the page itself.
  • Use an ID for the requested resource. IDs are generic. If the content changes the URI doesn’t need to change. Additionally, it’s kind of a “fuck you” to the rampant overuse and abuse of “ SEO ” in nearly every way possible. That’s fun. Fuck you SEO .

So while I struggle to make Google forget about all my abandoned content, I at least have a well thought permalink structure.