American in Spain

Open Letter to the Webmaster at NASA

July 15, 2009

Dear NASA Webmaster,

Your organization has been using the internet for at least 20 years, way back before there existed a World Wide Web or even a Hypertext Transfer Protocol. Even I remember the days when Gopher was the most user friendly internet service. In the intervening years, however, you may have noticed that a few unwritten standards have cropped up. Principally, I'm referring to the total dominance of HTTP and HTML as the primary method of communicating between servers and human clients on the internet, and how every single site on the internet will forward you to if you attempt to visit without the now-completely-assumable www prefix. Some websites, in the interest of brevity, will forward you the other way, preferring their website to not use www. But the important thing is that a web page will show up with or without the www!!!

Every time I visit your website, I type in into my browser's address bar, and every time, it fails!! To actually find your website, I am forced to hit my W key three times and go to I know of no other websites in 2009 where there is a distinction made between and Please, please, please fix this!

Sincerely, Erik Rasmussen

This letter has been submitted via NASA's contact form.

Update! Within an hour of me submitting this, and before this post was published, I got a response from NASA:

If you're using Safari or Firefox you can type in and it will direct you to NASA's Web page. For other Web browser's please use

This is, of course, not true, as I am using Firefox and visiting fails. While normally, I have no problem with ignoring non-Safari-or-Firefox users, fixing this problem would take, at maximum, three minutes for anyone who knew what they were doing with DNS or Apache. Boo, NASA!