Monday, April 06, 2009

A growing shrinking problem

A growing trend around the net lately, has been shrinking URLs. This isn’t a new thing, it’s been around for several years thanks to tinyurl and a few other sites.

The purpose of shrinking URLs is to make re-typing addresses easier, to make the links neater and to cut down on space.

Twitter has benefitted massively from shrinking urls. With such a small limit on message length, it’s means users can have a URL AND a little bit of info in their message. It’s a win-win.

Unfortunately, it seems that more places are also adopting the process of URL shrinking, in some cases, with very little benefit and some big downsides for me.

So, what’s the problem?? I regularly use a little feature that exists in nearly every browser, I like to look at where a link points to before deciding if I’ll click on it. See, it’s very easy to have a URL A Nice Site with Puppy Dogs that really points to Personally, I’d not click on the link despite the promise of puppy dogs.

Shrinking urls, unfortunately hides the true destination of a hyperlink, and as such, means that I am running blind. This means, I have to use my best judgement based on trust. Do I trust the person/site that posted the link. In general, this isn’t to bad.

But this is where it’s getting more difficult. Several social media sites are now actively shrinking all URLs posted on their site. These links can be posted by anybody, people I don’t know, people I don’t trust. The result, the sites no longer have my patronage. Sure, I’m only one person, but I’d rather be safe than run the risk of something far nastier.

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