This is for all you people who, in the course of your lifetime, have had or will have the opportunity to verbally spell out a website address to someone – you know, with all the https and the slashes and whatnot.
For the record, here’s what’s up, yo.
A backslash points from NW to SE. It leans “back” toward what you just typed, assuming the bottom of the text is your frame of reference. It’s also by far the less common of the two types of slashes (in plain old English, anyway; computer languages may differ in this regard.)
A slash is its perpendicular, pointing from NE to SW. It points in a forward direction from the text you’re writing, again assuming you’re going from the bottom here. It’s more common than a backslash in written language, and it’s NOT called a forward slash; slash and slash alone does the trick. It’s the one used in either/or situations, in fractions, in between lines of prose or song, and, most importantly for the purposes of this gripe, in internet addresses.
To provide perhaps a lamer, less straightforward way to remember the two, remember the phrase slashdot (the name of the popular “news for nerds” site, and the icon of which I’ve made the title of this post). Pretend the bottom of the appropriate slash is the center of a clock, the slash itself being the minute hand and the imaginary line between the slash and the dot being the hour hand. In the case of both the slash and the backslash, the time reads close to 3 o’clock. However, with the backslash, it’s about 5 minutes before 3 (\.), having gone “back” in time, while with a slash, it’s roughly 3:05 (/.), or relatively “forward” in time with respect to 3 o’clock on the dot.
Hmm, no one’s going to remember that one. You could just remember that /.=slashdot and not backslashdot. Anyone else have a useful mnemonic?