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URL shorteners?
November 18, 2009 4:01 PM   Subscribe

URL shorteners in FPPs?

Are we OK with FPPs via URL shortener? Is there an explicit policy about that? Maybe a static check for the common shorteners and a recommendation to link to the actual page could be added to the post form?

Not picking on this post, I just noticed it was a link to bit.ly and figured it would be worth clarifying.
posted by idiopath to Etiquette/Policy at 4:01 PM (49 comments total)

We usually nix shortened URLs as soon as we see them, and we even have some admin tools to help spot them in comments.

I'm not sure it happens often enough to warrant a warning on post, but that's something we can add if it gets out of control.
posted by pb (staff) at 4:03 PM on November 18, 2009


Yeah, I change them whenever I see them. It doesn't seem to come up too often, and folks tend to flag when it does, so dealing with it manually for now is the plan.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:06 PM on November 18, 2009


I always change them. So yeah!
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:16 PM on November 18, 2009


I'm going to go ahead and close this up.
posted by Liver at 4:22 PM on November 18, 2009 [16 favorites]


It's frowned on.
posted by Mitheral at 4:28 PM on November 18, 2009


So that giant link was kind of obnoxious, there, evilmidnightetc.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:37 PM on November 18, 2009


And we chatted in some detail about url-shorteners a few months ago as well, though in more of a pony-request (and pony-denial) context than anything.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:39 PM on November 18, 2009


...just living up to my name...
posted by evilmidnightbomberwhatbombsatmidnight at 4:42 PM on November 18, 2009


DOWN WITH LINK SHORTENING; UP WITH LINK LARD
posted by Sys Rq at 4:44 PM on November 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


Shortening? Lard? It is the holiday season! Please use butter.
posted by Cranberry at 4:50 PM on November 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm opposed.
posted by blue_beetle at 4:52 PM on November 18, 2009


Hi, I'm Don LaPre and I have a question for you. Do you find that sometimes there's not enough Internets in the wireless pipes to type all the URLs you want?
posted by carsonb at 5:09 PM on November 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


If URL shorteners aren't allowed how will I retweet to the front page?
posted by qvantamon at 5:23 PM on November 18, 2009


Hi, I'm Don LaPre and I have a question for you. Do you find that sometimes there's not enough Internets in the wireless pipes to type all the URLs you want?



Yes, yes I do!
posted by Atreides at 5:29 PM on November 18, 2009


Apparently I have some greasemonkey script that replaces URL shorteners with the original address, which I had completely forgotten about. "TinyURL Decoder" if anyone is interested.
posted by dead cousin ted at 5:42 PM on November 18, 2009


Can we get a feature that removes URL shorteners from the entire Internet? kthxia
posted by DU at 6:00 PM on November 18, 2009


DU: Are you interested in some URL enlargement pills? Fill her address bar with your FQDN!
posted by qvantamon at 6:35 PM on November 18, 2009 [7 favorites]


Could someone summarize the problem with link shorteners? I've never gotten it.
posted by Mid at 7:01 PM on November 18, 2009


mid- unless there is an overwhelming reason to use them, they are just not nice. Most internet people I know like to hover over a link and see where it's going to take them before clicking on it. seeing http://dalskdje.jy/1rj438 does no good at all. (my apologies if that's a real link).

It also (to me) has just a little bit of a control-freaky thing going on. Why do the extra work to cut and paste a link into a url shortener when you can just paste it directly into the page?? My immediate reaction to that is "this person doesn't trust me to click their link as it stands, they are daring me to trust that they haven't sent me to goatse."
posted by gjc at 7:07 PM on November 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


There's often valuable information located in a URL on where one is headed towards on this wild, wooly webs when cwicking a wink. Shorteners obfuscate said information.
posted by carsonb at 7:08 PM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Another issue is that if a service goes down, any link that used the service will be broken. This was a big concern when tr.im was struggling earlier this year.
posted by lalex at 7:17 PM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, aside from basic link-transparency issues, url shorteners aid and abet affiliate linkers by obfuscating the affiliate code content of spammy links.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:35 PM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]



It also (to me) has just a little bit of a control-freaky thing going on. Why do the extra work to cut and paste a link into a url shortener when you can just paste it directly into the page?? My immediate reaction to that is "this person doesn't trust me to click their link as it stands, they are daring me to trust that they haven't sent me to goatse."


I copied and pasted from a twitter post (by accident mind you, I would have given the direct link if I had noticed). It was already minified. No extra work.
posted by juv3nal at 7:51 PM on November 18, 2009


Diese links sind nicht rechts.
posted by Abiezer at 8:12 PM on November 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


They have two legitimate uses: in email(*), and on twitter. Metafilter is not one of those two.

* Now, some might say that they aren't needed in email because you can use HTML and just make a link. But HTML in email is an abomination and evil and you should feel bad for sending it. Most sane mailing lists and sane people use plain text, which unfortunately means that long URLs can wrap, thus the convenience tinyurl. Thoughtful people give both the original URL (as some mail clients are smart and don't add the linebreak) as well as the tinyurl, so that you can see what the true link destination was.
posted by Rhomboid at 8:26 PM on November 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


Could someone summarize the problem with link shorteners? I've never gotten it.

I find it particularly annoying in the case of a YouTube link. I like to know if I'm going to be clicking on something that will start playing audio automagically.
posted by 6550 at 8:28 PM on November 18, 2009


Not that I'm trying to single out the poster of the FPP here. I just run flashblock which blocks 99% of the automatically loading audio/video. But YT is one of the few sites I set to allow flash as a default.
posted by 6550 at 8:31 PM on November 18, 2009


lalex's point is the most important for me. Why on earth would you bring an unreliable third-party into your linking unless it was absolutely necessary for space reasons?

Also, is anyone else really annoyed at the new Twitter retweet thingamajobbies?
posted by mediareport at 8:38 PM on November 18, 2009


6550: I find it particularly annoying in the case of a YouTube link.

Also, if it's an url shortener link then you can't watch the video inline.
posted by Kattullus at 8:39 PM on November 18, 2009


lalex's point is the most important for me. Why on earth would you bring an unreliable third-party into your linking unless it was absolutely necessary for space reasons?

Yes, and I actually became hyper-aware of link rot when I was participating in one of the MeFi backtagging projects; so many of the links from earlier posts were broken...
posted by lalex at 8:46 PM on November 18, 2009


Shortening? Lard? It is the holiday season! Please use butter.

Mmmmm. Sweet, sweet link butter.

NOM NOM NOM
posted by armage at 10:11 PM on November 18, 2009


Vaguely related question: the NYT link generator seems to be dead. What's the upshot? No more NYT links? Post them anyway? Got an alternative?
posted by msalt at 10:48 PM on November 18, 2009


6550: "Could someone summarize the problem with link shorteners? I've never gotten it.

I find it particularly annoying in the case of a YouTube link. I like to know if I'm going to be clicking on something that will start playing audio automagically
"

Just FYI, there are Greasemonkey scripts to prevent YouTube videos from autoplaying.
posted by IndigoRain at 11:25 PM on November 18, 2009


I use link shortening services any time I send links to my largely computer-clueless friends and family. There is no way they're going to grok anything else.

Of course, any day now I expect to hear "I saw that link you sent on bit.ly and I went to that site and couldn't find it again..."*

* This would be my mother, who reads an email, prints it out and then immediately deletes it, for fear of filling up her computer. She has 60 gigs of free space and is aged 75. Even if she never gets another computer and kept every email she was sent for the rest of her life, she'd never use even a modest fraction of that free space.
posted by maxwelton at 1:33 AM on November 19, 2009


I'm going to go ahead and assume the hugeurl service is also frowned upon.
posted by usonian at 5:03 AM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Could someone summarize the problem with link shorteners? I've never gotten it.

A shortened link could go bad. So could the underlying link, but a shortener is just one extra opportunity for it to go bad.

Many people find it useful to be able to see whether a link is nytimes.com or youtube.com or randomwebsite.com or what. (I don't know if "there's a Greasemonkey script for this," but that wouldn't help the many Metafilter users who don't use Firefox.)

And what's the upside? There doesn't seem to be any.
posted by Jaltcoh at 5:32 AM on November 19, 2009


the NYT link generator seems to be dead. What's the upshot? No more NYT links? Post them anyway? Got an alternative?

Didn't the NYT make their archive free last year? I'm pretty sure that eliminated the link generator's main raison d'etre - getting around the fact that NYT links would stop working after 7 days.
posted by mediareport at 6:37 AM on November 19, 2009


I prefer to use http://urlshorteningservicefortwitter.com/
posted by slogger at 6:46 AM on November 19, 2009


This would be my mother, who reads an email, prints it out and then immediately deletes it, for fear of filling up her computer.

Psh. MY mom, when receiving an email she'd like to share with me, prints it out and puts it into an envelope and mails it to me. MAILS IT TO ME.

After the Macy's thanksgiving parade last year, she mailed me an emailed article about rickrolling, thus unintentionally perpetrating perhaps the greatest and most ironic rickroll of all time.
posted by elizardbits at 6:50 AM on November 19, 2009 [15 favorites]


If the actual link is hidden away in link text, it doesn't matter how long it is. So shorting links for FPPs makes no sense. On twitter or in email, where you are pasting the raw link into your message, then you can make the case for relying on the indirection.
posted by chunking express at 6:55 AM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


getting around the fact that NYT links would stop working after 7 days.

Huh? I've been saving NYT bookmarks for years, and I never noticed they went dead after just 7 days.
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:08 AM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


This?

After the Macy's thanksgiving parade last year, she mailed me an emailed article about rickrolling, thus unintentionally perpetrating perhaps the greatest and most ironic rickroll of all time.

Is AWESOME.
posted by Kimberly at 8:37 AM on November 19, 2009


I'm going to go ahead and assume the hugeurl service is also frowned upon.

Someone tested that hypothesis earlier. Didn't work.
posted by effbot at 9:08 AM on November 19, 2009


Didn't the NYT make their archive free last year? I'm pretty sure that eliminated the link generator's main raison d'etre - getting around the fact that NYT links would stop working after 7 days.

I'm actually talking about this situation (quoting here from the MeFi FAQ):

I want to make a post to something behind a free registration, is this okay?
Generally speaking, no. Things that you link to should be freely available on the web. This means no registration (use the NYTimes link generator for NYT articles) even if there is a handy workaround using bugmenot. This goes for double for links behind reasonably prevalent pay walls (Chronicle of Higher Education, JSTOR content, etc); try to make sure your link is available for everyone before you put it on MetaFilter.
posted by msalt at 1:29 PM on November 19, 2009


hugeurl is awesome.
posted by Mid at 2:01 PM on November 19, 2009


(Sorry, that's a link to the front page. Delete if annoying.)
posted by Mid at 2:11 PM on November 19, 2009


I think I'm gonna start a service called getfiredurl.com

So, you give it a url, and it encodes it in a string of "porn" "sex" "xxx" "hacking" "warez" "torrents"

For example:
http://ponies.com -> http://getfiredurl.com/porn_hacking_torrent_fisting

Looks great in your company's proxy logs!
posted by qvantamon at 8:29 PM on November 19, 2009 [5 favorites]


Well you can sort of do that with tinyurl now that they let you pick a custom alias, e.g. http://tinyurl.com/porn-fisting-butts-lol.
posted by Rhomboid at 11:05 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


twi.bz uses the destination in the resulting URL

Example:

http://metatalk.metafilter.com/18462/URL-shorteners

becomes

http://metafilter.twi.bz/b

and also provides an optional intermediate explanation page as: http://metafilter.twi.bz/b/e
posted by bz at 10:06 AM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


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