I have an htaccess file that is forcing the URL request to www. instead of a bare hostname (this is to resolve SSL issues I'm facing that are fixed when you visit the site via www.)
Is this a bad idea in the SEO world?
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There's been a lot of discussion involving this same issue (try a quick Google search about it). And it mostly comes down to canonicalization in order for this to be successful.
Is is a bad idea in the SEO world?
No. In fact it's a good idea. Not only for your SSL issues but for SEO. Forcing the users to the "www' (or no www) is good usability as it offers consistency. It also reduces the chances that your pages will be found using two technically different URLs which can result in duplicate issues affecting your rankings.