Posted in: Technology

URL Shorteners – the herpes of the web

herpescake.jpg

With the proliferation of social media services the use if URL shorteners has escalated to a point that you can’t turn around without another one popping up. Everyone and their brother it seems whants to be a copycat Web 2.0 service and what easier one to pick that some silly assed URL shortener. One would hope that at some point the thought would sink in that maybe – just maybe – we have enough ways to shorten and track a URL.

It would appear now that the newest riff on this disease on social media is for us to create our own in the hope that this will cancel out the fear that if some URL shortening service goes down it won’t leave dead links that should be pointing to your site ending up instead looking like littered used water bottles across the web. Hell even my good buddy Mark has rolled his own URL shortener and while I’m sure he has his reasons I can’t figure out why we need even the number of shorteners we already (sorry Mark :) ).

A lot of fuss was raised recently over a new breed of URL shorteners hitting the web when Digg released its Diggbar that wraps your site within their frames code and provides a URL shortener as part of the deal. This is similar to what Facebook has done with their web based toolbar and follows along with what Hootsuite, a toolbox of goodies for Twitter users, does with the integration of the ow.ly URL shortener. Now we find out today that even The New York Times has gotten into the act with their own shortening service.

As I thought about writing this post I wondered just how many URL shortening services there were out there so I did a couple of quick searches and this is what I came up with

Doiop
TinyURL
ReadthisURL
MemURL.com
dwarfURL.com

http://shorl.com/

Is.gd
Snurl
Snipr
NSFW.in
QurlyQ
icanhaz.com
Tiny.cc
URLenco.de
bit.ly
PiURL.com
LinkBee.com
TraceURL.com
Tweetburner
rubyurl.com
tnij.org
abbrr.com – Spanish
fon.gs
2big – German
twurl.cc
Knol.me
Tr.im
Bloat.me
cli.gs
Short.ie
kl.am
POPrl
idek.net
budURL
DiggBar
buzzup
chilp.it
krz.ch
shortna.me
ow.ly
zi.ma
nn.nf
rt.tc
sn.vc
lnk.in
pnt.me
yep.it
23o.net
fly2.ws
ne1.net
w3t.org
www.x.se
Xrl.us
Short.to
Notlong.com

http://metamark.net/
http://shurl.org/
6url.com
canurl.com
decenturl.com
easyurl.net
elfurl.com
fire.to
flq.us
freak.to
ix.lt
krunchd.com
miklos.dk
nanoref.com
qicute.com
piurl.com
rurl.org
shorterlink.com
shortlinks.co.uk
shorturl.com
smarturl.eu
tighturl.com
tinylink.com
urlcut.com
urlhawk.com
urlpass.com
yuarel.com
xaddr.com
yatuc.com
yweb.com
UnHub
Lnk.by

91 different URL shortening services and that was only after looking for about half an hour, most of which was spent copying them to the list. It’s like URL shorteners has become the new “Hello World” for wannabe web developers.

The problem is all they are really doing is creating a potential black hole of broken links at some point in the future. While some like bit’.ly have been able to con convince some VCs that there’s money to be made in all those shortened URL the vast majority of them will assuredly disappear. As they do they will be leaving a mess behind them but unfortunately like herpes there will always be some new shortening service popping up.

All this doesn’t even take into account the obvious abuse by spammers, phishers and virus writers that things like URL shorteners will allow. As we become blindingly use to clicking on all these shortened URL because of things like Twitter and other social media services it is only a matter of time before shortened URLs blow up in our face.

Update: at the time of posting the URL shortening service from The New York Times has been taken down due to abuse.

Like we didn’t know that wasn’t coming.

tweetmeme_url = ‘http://www.inquisitr.com/22264/url-shorteners-the-herpes-of-the-web/’;

Articles And Offers From The Web

Comments

15 Responses to “URL Shorteners – the herpes of the web”

  1. Mark 'Rizzn' Hopkins

    Why did I create riz.gd? I thought it'd be funny.

    You know you chuckled when I told you about it.

    Whether you were laughing at me or with me has yet to be determined. :-p

  2. dannydenhard

    URL shorteners are like anything they will have their time and then the best ones will survive. tr.im works best for me on sites like twitter but all the ones with frames and ads will die unless search engines and clever SEO's deliver best solutions. Wouldn't put it passed Google to create one to control them.

  3. Web Biz Opportunities

    Great blog post! I didn't reakize there were so MANY URL shorteners out there!

    You missed one: http://nuurl.us/

    So, what's next? Maybe we need a “URL Identifier” – an app that reads the shortened URL and tells us what it REALLY says before we click on it! ;-)

    Thanks for the informative post.

    GT Bulmer :)
    StarrBizz.com

  4. Rob

    Very little content in this post. What exactly is your problem with URL shorteners? The only think you say is that it might be a problem someday.

    You said, “All this doesn’t even take into account the obvious abuse by spammers, phishers and virus writers that things like URL shorteners will allow.”

    This is not a URL shortener issue … it's how the Internet is designed problem. It's like saying hammers are a problem because somebody might hit something that isn't supposed to be hit. All useful tools have the potential to be used wrong. I think URL shorteners are way, way down the long list of problems on the Internet.

    How about this … Blogs: the herpes of the web. I think there are too may blogs on the Internet. If you're talking trash, they are “looking like littered used water bottles across the web”. The bloggers post things when they really don't have anything to say.

    Oh look … now I'm a pundit too … ain't I cool! You can do it too. You can go to blogger school. Or am I just a fool? I leave that up to you.

    Peace,

    Rob:-]