In Unix operating systems, files starting with a dot are hidden and are mostly used to store configuration data (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dot_files
). Since every Unix operating system does that, makes it pretty much the standard. Since configuration data is often sensitive information (even Apaches uses a dotfile: .htaccess), it's common sence to hide that file from the outside world. And to hide means: don't show it to others, pretend it's not there. Which is the same as don't make it readable. Allowing dotfiles to be read via a webserver sounds like a serious security issue to me.