Big sites NOT using ‘www’ in their domain

This is a list of major websites I’ve encountered that don’t use ‘www’ in their primary URL. The criteria of the list is: the site must use the root domain, actively redirect all ‘www’ requests to the root domain, and have a Google page rank greater than 6.

http://twitter.com/
http://slashdot.org/
http://digg.com/
http://thesaurus.com/
http://nymag.com/
http://mashable.com/
http://allthingsd.com/
http://bigthink.com/
http://wordpress.org/
http://wordpress.com/
http://bbpress.org/
http://drupal.org/
http://jquery.com/
http://portableapps.com/
http://daringfireball.net/
http://stackoverflow.com/
http://meyerweb.com/
http://github.com/
http://js-kit.com/
http://clearleft.com/
http://tinyurl.com/
http://bit.ly/
http://tr.im/

And all the Gawker Media sites (running on the same platform):
http://gawker.com/
http://deadspin.com/
http://kotaku.com/
http://jezebel.com/
http://io9.com/
http://jalopnik.com/
http://gizmodo.com/
http://lifehacker.com/

CNAME

The only GOOD reason I’ve seen for being hesitant about not using ‘www’ is that you CANNOT create a CNAME record for the root domain. CNAME records are only valid when there is no other DNS for that domain, and the root domain always has other records.

As the root of a domain must have an SOA and NS records the rule above kicks in, preventing use of CNAMEs too.
http://serverfault.com/questions/170194/why-cant-a-domains-root-be-a-cname

Some Content Distribution Networks (CDN), like Akamai and Cotendo, use CNAME records as the method for one to hand over their website to the caching network. If you wanted to strictly use the root domain (no www), Akamai will tell you that you can’t due to the inability to create a CNAME record. CNAMEs are generally useful things.

There are a few ways around this:

  1. Work out a special deal with the CDN to not rely on CNAME records (If Digg is really a Cotendo customer, it’s proof it can be done)
  2. Use a different CDN that doesn’t require CNAME records (Anyone know any? Level 3 perhaps?)
  3. Use something else. Perhaps a high power/bandwidth super intelligent load balancer.

If anyone stumbles upon this article and has details on how any of these sites are able to scale while using their root domain, please share! My work-arounds list needs some work.

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