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Please read: Matt Cutts: "Adding a 301 redirect can be an especially good idea if your site changes"

If I'm johnny my URL might be 134564/johnny and if I change my username to paul, and people have outside links to my profile at 134564/johnny, they'll still work. This means more than one URL to a page. Issue a 301 if the name doesn't match (doesn't waste more DB, as you need the username in the profile anyway).

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closed as off topic by random, Kip, Ladybug Killer, fretje, alex Jan 23 '10 at 18:37

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The link still works. What's the problem? – random Jan 23 '10 at 7:32
Maybe we should just have '/users/134564' and call it a day. – o.k.w Jan 23 '10 at 10:56
see random's answer -- this isn't necessary because we have a canonical link tag – Jeff Atwood Jan 23 '10 at 21:10
Wow good thing you guys closed this one because it was a really offensive question to ask. I didn't mean to offend anyones's intelligence I promise. I really like all of you guys a lot. – orokusaki Jan 25 '10 at 5:51

You should read some of Matt Cutts' later stuff. Like the one posted in 2009 about the canonical tag:

An ugly url such as can specify in the HEAD part of the document the following:

<link rel="canonical" href=""/>

That tells search engines that the preferred location of this url (the “canonical” location, in search engine speak) is instead of .

And it's already implemented in the trilogy of sites.

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You were supposed to only read Why don't you get that? +1, and more if I could. – balpha Jan 23 '10 at 13:59
Canonical tags are meant for use with content that has multiple urls, not for broken systems that leave old urls around. I know it's tough to understand. – orokusaki Jan 23 '10 at 16:48
@orokusaki: no one who has replied here is a site maintainer or anything but what you are: a user. So your comments seem somewhat misplaced, not to mention offensive. – Ether Jan 23 '10 at 18:08
@orokusaki: 134564/johnny and 134564/paul are multiple urls for the same content, exactly what the rel="canonical" tag is designed to handle – Kip Jan 25 '10 at 14:01

What's the benefit of issuing a redirect (causing an extra request) instead of just serving the right content?

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SEO. Google doesn't like duplicated content. – Andreas Bonini Jan 23 '10 at 12:21
There is still the canonical tag that helps search engines filter the dupe content. @kop – random Jan 23 '10 at 12:40
@random: I don't understand... What's the canonical tag? O.o – Andreas Bonini Jan 23 '10 at 13:07
@Koper: you can learn about the canonical tag here:… and here:…, among other places. (see also @random's answer) – Kip Jan 25 '10 at 13:59

So should we also be redirecting the URL on questions if the title in the URL is incorrect?

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Ideally, yes. See my comment to Jon Skeet's answer. – Andreas Bonini Jan 23 '10 at 12:22

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