Will URL Shortening Services Destroy the Web as We Know It?

In the blog post Url Shorteners: Destroying the Web Since 2002 Jeff Atwood complains about URL shorteners and all the evil they do.

As someone who does e-mail technical support I can tell you URL shortning services are very useful (even without twitter), for example the link to download the .net framework from Microsoft is:


Copy-paste this into an e-mail message and this will be broken across (at least) two lines, clicking this link or easily copy-pasting it into the browser is out of the question, on the other hand this link http://go.nbdtech.com?FD95A574 will redirect you to the same location and is usable even in the middle of a line.

The problem isn’t the existence of URL shortening, it’s the simple fact that the interest of those who operate the URL shortening service doesn’t always align with the interest of the people using it (not to mention the people who provide the content of those URLs being shortened, nobody is asking them).

By using a URL shortening service you put that service in a position of power, it can take away page rank from the content, it can add toolbars or ads – and there is nothing you can do about it.

If you take a look at the short URL above you can see how I handle the situation – I operate my own URL shortening service – that way I know the motives of the service operator (me) are perfectly aligned with the motives of it’s user (also me).

Actually I operate two URL shortening services, there’s go.nbdtech.com and there’s also blog.nbdtech.com that produces the short URLs for this blog, take a look at the end of every post (on the web only, not in the RSS feed) to see it in action, that second service was created for twitter who shorten URLs even if they do fit in the text length limit (something I find a little offensive).

My URL shortening services that are mostly used to point to my site are very friendly to the site they point to (surprisingly).

URL shortening tools, just like spam filters can be used to for good or evil, by controlling the services you use (either directly by operating them yourself or indirectly by paying them to do what you want) you can make sure they run with your best interest in mind, if you use a free service don’t be surprised they do what’s best for them.

posted @ Thursday, July 9, 2009 2:20 PM

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