URL Shorteners – Awkward?

In Uncategorized on January 24, 2011 at 1:09 pm

A short post today in (dis)honor of the shortened URL. For those not familiar, a URL shortener is a tool for taking longer URLs and shortening them usually for two purposes – to fit it (i.e. within a 140-character Twitter message) and/or to track how many people click on it. The issue I have is that they are often used to hide the real URL you are taken to.

Here’s the difference between a URL and a shortened URL…


Notice that both take you to the same destination.

As most of my examples go, consider this same scenario in the real world. You walk up to someone, hand them a wrapped gift and hope they will open it. It could be bad, or it could be valuable and relevant. Either way, your “packaging” really only benefits you and not the other person. See why you might want to explain upfront why they should open, and maybe even assure them it’s OK to?

Think about this next time you send a shortened URL – either through tinyURL,,, doiop, or others. Some of these allow you to add context by writing in keywords into the shortened URL or, better yet, a preview feature that lets the other person scroll over the link and see it without clicking. And finally, just because I find these to be cool, now allows you to roll up multiple URLs into a single shortened one, and automatically spits out a QR code.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent those of my employer nor any other organization I am affiliated with. Also, please see the “About” page in case you are offended or even mildly irritated. Thanks!


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