Url shortener Tr.im saved from death, but still serves as a serious wake up call

The owners of URL shortener Tr.im have decided to keep Tr.im open, after announcing last week that the service was to close.

In a post on the Tr.im blog, the owners explain that the decision to keep Tr.im open came about due to the overwhelming response from users, and “countless public and private appeals.” They do however go on to note that the market is still stacked against the service, specifically Twitter favoring Bit.ly, and that they might consider selling Tr.im if the right owner was found.

The short lived closure of Tr.im does serve one purpose though: a serious wake up call to users about trusting your links to third party services. All users of Twitter use URL shortening services, with Twitter automatically converting URLs to Bit.ly URLs when they haven’t already been pre-shrunk, and Twitter clients such as Tweetdeck offer a variety of URL shortening services. Use of these URL’s goes beyond Twitter, and extends into social networking sites such as Facebook as well; that they are popular is a given, but that popularity comes with a huge risk: those links only work as long as the short URL services offering them remain in business.

That you’re safe using one service or another shouldn’t be presumed; Tr.im wasn’t a fly by night operation by any stretch, and although it’s back today, there’s nothing to say it might not close down again some time in the future. Bit.ly may have a pile of VC support and an interesting business plan, but as we know with all startups: not all of them go the distance. What would happen if Bit.ly or TinyURL were to close?

Users aren’t going to suddenly stop using third party short URL services, because the convenience wins out over the risk. But if you operate a website or blog and you share links on a Twitter account, you have the option of running your own short URL service, and it’s the only 100% guarantee that your links will remain good for as long as your site remains in business. We use the WordPress plugin WordTwit, that creates short URL’s using Inquisitr.com as its base, and I’m happy to recommend it. Using WordTwit you can also set up your own dedicated URL just for short URL generation as well if your site URL is too long, and it’s not hard at all to set up.