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Markdown support for URLs without a protocol

Why does the Markdown engine used by SE require links to start with http://?

It's a good practice, sure, but why not make it a wee bit more friendly by automatically assuming HTTP as the default protocol if it's not specified?

[Example](http://www.example.com) renders as Example but
[Example](www.example.com) renders as Example


1 Answer 1


What about ftp:// links? mailto:, gopher:, any other protocol? Don't try and second-guess what the editor wants, don't set a default.

Explicit is better than implicit, better to not link than to assume a default.

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    Read my question, I said and now quote: "automatically assuming HTTP as the default protocol if it's not specified" Sep 7, 2012 at 8:55
  • @YatharthROCK: Yes, I know. And my answer is: No, because explicit is better than implicit, I don't want assumptions to be made. Sep 7, 2012 at 8:56
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    It doesn't even recognize mailto: and gopher:, I just tried Sep 8, 2012 at 5:15
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    Are answer owners automatically notified of any comments on their answer or something? B'coz I see my mentions of you stripped out Sep 8, 2012 at 5:20
  • I am automatically notified, yes. Interesting that some protocols are stripped out. Sep 8, 2012 at 7:05
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    Would you argue the same thing for your browser address bar? Would you really prefer typing http://www.stackexhange.com/ rather than just stackexhange.com? Also, in this system, your browser can also predict what you're typing with just 2 or 3 charsacters (sta... instead of 14 (http://www.sta...) Sep 8, 2012 at 10:09
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    @YatharthROCK: My browser can assume a lot more context; it's a web browser, after all, so that's not entirely a fair comparison. :-) As for auto-completion, that because you've built up a history with your browser (more context). Sep 8, 2012 at 10:10
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    I meant as in that since it predicts based on the first few unique characters, the assuming case would require a lot less typing (as it avoids the identical, but 'mandatory' http://www.) Sep 8, 2012 at 10:18
  • BTW, what's the use of adding www. before the domain name? Does it even mean anything other than 'go to the main server' instead of a dedicated one (e.g., plus.google.com/) Sep 8, 2012 at 10:19
  • Your browser never adds the www. if the domain without it would work too. The domain.com server might redirect you to www.domain.com, or your browser my automatically try www.domain.com if domain.com doesn't work, but it is not the same thing at all. Sep 8, 2012 at 10:21
  • www.domain.com and domain.com are distinct domain names. The www. prefix is a de-facto standard, reflecting the type of protocol served by that domain. Compare that to ftp.domain.com and smtp.domain.com or mail.domain.com. Sep 8, 2012 at 10:22
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    This standard predates the dominance of HTTP. There was once an internet without the World Wide Web, where you used telnet, ftp, email, etc. to communicate. Sep 8, 2012 at 10:24
  • Ohhh, so it depends how your server is configured or something Sep 8, 2012 at 11:20
  • @MartijnPieters, Those schemes you mentioned aren't even supported: meta.stackexchange.com/q/71108/159916
    – Pacerier
    Sep 24, 2014 at 15:47
  • @Pacerier: I said nothing about schemes. URIs came with the web. I only mentioned host names. Sep 24, 2014 at 15:56

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