Slash or Backslash?

SlashIf you’re lucky enough to live in the Cleveland area, starting today you’ll be hearing some fancy radio spots promoting the University where I work.

At the end of the spot, we give out a URL for people to visit to learn more.

The voice-over reads it like this:

For more, visit jcu.edu backslash onestop

When reading out a web address, do you prefer it read it as backslash, forward slash or just plain slash? I’ve heard it said all ways.

I suppose if we wanted to be really technical, we’d call the backslash by its proper name: reverse solidus.

I think people would get confused hearing this on the radio:

For more, visit jcu.edu reverse solidus one stop

Which way of reading a web address do you prefer?

Photo by darkmavis.

17 comments

  1. Simply put, that character is NOT a backslash. That’s a major pet peeve of mine and I cringe every time I hear it in commercials on TV and radio.

    So, “slash” or “forward slash”.

  2. I definitely prefer just “slash” in verbal copy. Plus, it’s a forward slash, as it tilts forward – it’s not the other one that is falling backward (and therefore is backslash) in the URL.

  3. If they don’t know what slash to use do you really want them at your university? 😉

    I am all for “slash” for the same reason you are not reading “www”.

    It is just given how URL’s and the web work, you don’t need to explain a URL to someone. If you do they will probably be putting “jcu.eduonestop” into their Google toolbar anyways. 😛

  4. Why not make a custom url like onestop.jcu.edu for your radio campaign that redirects to your normal page? No confusion on the slash and you can also hide some analytics code in the redirect. The dot seems to flow a little better for me, I guess it comes down to personal preference.

  5. @Mike – that’s a good idea. Better addressing/URL shortening is only list of stuff to tackle here. Only been here a few months so far.

    @Nick – I didn’t write the ad and wasn’t there when they were doing the read, or I’d have probably caught it earlier. I’ve let people here know that just a slash is probably the best way to go in future ads.

  6. Mike’s idea is probably the best long term. We have found by asking students that *.site.edu usually means there is something special there and they would type it in. Where as site.edu/* they would often just go to site.edu.

  7. Your commenters are correct. The ad is not choosing one among legitimate options: it’s making a mistake. This is a backslash: and using one causes your URL to fail. IMHO, you should fix the radio spots.

  8. As everyone is saying, it’s not a backslash, but that means it’s not a reverse solidus either. It’s technically wouldn’t even be a mere solidus, as the solidus and slash are technically different characters. Typically the solidus glyph is more slanted than the slash, as it’s used to delimit the numerator and denominator of the fraction.

  9. I would just say “slash”. I think it’s pretty understood that a “slash” in a URL is a backslash.

    As Nick said above, they’re just going to throw it into Google anyway…

    @Mike H: Subdomains are the optimal use if you ask me, but try to give out a URL with a subdomain other than “www” to a random user over the phone and there is a good chance you will finish the call with a headache. “No sir, no ‘www’ just ‘onestop dot jay cee you dot ee dee you'”.

    The general public was educated that all URLs start with “www” and when something bucks that trend it sends them (and in turn you) into fits.

  10. Well as others have said its not a backslash, that is just wrong, if anything its a forward slash.

    So I would just say “slash”.

    Beter still if you are doing it to track visitors from the radio campaign, I would spend the $10 dollars on a unique domain name to read on the radio.

    Another issue I have is with using numbers in the url. Is it 1stop or onestop etc.

    just my 0.02

  11. @Mike S

    We noticed users typing in “www” also. We just put a simple .htaccess rule in to take care of this case. Maybe it’s our job to educate the public that urls don’t have to start with “www”, it’s like telling people that you don’t have to click on the blue “e” to get on the internet.

  12. @Andrew – I’m on the fence about a domain for each program. On one hand, its easy to remember for our visitors. On the other, it dilutes the brand value of hearing our domain name and relating it. People may not be sure if “onestop.com” has anything to do with my school at first listen.

    Def. another topic to blog about.

  13. Watching the NFL Playoffs and saw that Audible Pepsi commercial and they said “backslash” and i about flipped! I get really bothered by this, so i decided to look it up and see if I’m the only one. Glad to see I’m not! What really bothers me is if you don’t even know, why would you even say “back” before you say “slash”? If I don’t know what color my boss’s car is but I know it’s a, say, Grand Am, I’m not going to say “My boss will be showing up in a red Grand Am.” I’d leave the “red” out of it! If you don’t know, just leave the “back” out of it! Sorry, it’s a pet peeve.

  14. This is SUCH a pet peeve of mine, I had to do a google search as well to see what others thought. Not only is it incorrect, but it has completely desensitized people to the existence of the REAL backslash. There are several sites I use for work that you must log in by typing doman\username. BACKSLASH. And yet anytime I tell people these instructions, inevitably I have to go over it again and again because people simply do not think about it.

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