Shortening Pony April 1, 2011 7:02 PM   Subscribe

How about a Mefi-specific URL shorten-er? Or maybe just a link to an internally-generated short URL? I'm surprised this pony hasn't pranced before.
posted by pjern to Feature Requests at 7:02 PM (57 comments total)

We've mentioned it before. We have the outgoing short URLs for posts. We don't want ot handle/manage incoming URLs for a few reasons

1. we're not Twitter, you can use extra characters, no big deal
2. keeping the full URL = less mystery meat, people can hover and see what the link goes to. If we see you using a URL shortener at this point, we'll unshorten it for this reason.
3. being really good at URL shortening can be tough and there are a lot of great people doing it already

So it's something we've thought about, but it doesn't serve a purpose internally. The outgoing short URLs are, we think, useful, but we don't want to manage anything that's not going to our own content.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:06 PM on April 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


It seems to me that the only reason to use a url shortener on a page where you can make HTML links is for tracking clicks. What good would it be on Metafilter?

This is a honest question. I'm confused about the blossoming of url shorteners in general.
posted by demiurge at 7:13 PM on April 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


The new Twitter/Facebook things create shortened URLs for inbound links, yes?
posted by misterbrandt at 7:14 PM on April 1, 2011


Yeah, I understand the usefulness of having a short url for twitter from mefi.us, but I thought pjern wanted a Metafilter branded bit.ly, or something like that.
posted by demiurge at 7:19 PM on April 1, 2011


My experimental greasemonkey script screwed me again (This is why I don't publish them!) It hid the "Share" box over on the right, and I wasn't even aware that those options existed. GRAR me.
posted by pjern at 7:30 PM on April 1, 2011


I'm confused about the blossoming of url shorteners in general.

Same. Other than on twitter, why would anyone use these anywhere ever? They are annoying and just hide where the link is going.
posted by inigo2 at 7:31 PM on April 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


Tangential: any thought to an in-house QR code generator for post links? It's easy enough to make them on a smartphone or numerous websites, but it would be kind of neat and trendy to have a button here.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:47 PM on April 1, 2011


Obfuscated URLs are security risks. We do not need to add to this shitpile.
posted by Mikey-San at 7:50 PM on April 1, 2011 [14 favorites]


Mama's little baby hates short'nin' links :(
posted by Abiezer at 8:02 PM on April 1, 2011 [12 favorites]


Same. Other than on twitter, why would anyone use these anywhere ever?

Well, it's twitter and other places with similar formal constraints on the amount of text you can easily move around or parse: IRC, IM, some text tasks on mobile devices even when those tasks where text windows are smaller than normal, other things like that.

That said, twitter alone is a pretty big argument for their narrow utility.

But it's also sort of a novelty; and it's handy for subterfuge or for redirect tracking or other questionable user-side stuff but great for the middleman who owns the shortener service. And that's a big part of the bloom: the people providing the third-party shorteners have an angle, and so they want you to use them.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:03 PM on April 1, 2011


The only shortener I like is the Google maps one, because their URLs used to be like 300 characters long.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 8:05 PM on April 1, 2011


My experimental greasemonkey script screwed me again (This is why I don't publish them!) It hid the "Share" box over on the right, and I wasn't even aware that those options existed. GRAR me.

There's also a checkbox in your preferences for hiding/not hiding the share options.
posted by rtha at 8:18 PM on April 1, 2011


The only valid reason for a URL shortener on mefi with it's unlimited character space is to hide tub girl, and we don't need that.
posted by caddis at 8:18 PM on April 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


This seems like a solution in search of a problem.
posted by Joh at 9:30 PM on April 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why is that necessary, since everything is easily accessible through a few clicks.
posted by hal_c_on at 9:36 PM on April 1, 2011


great for the middleman who owns the shortener service

Why is that so? Does bit.ly and all that make money off what they do?
posted by ofthestrait at 9:45 PM on April 1, 2011


There is no reason whatsoever for Metafilter to have a link shortener.
posted by koeselitz at 11:04 PM on April 1, 2011


ofthestrait writes "Why is that so? Does bit.ly and all that make money off what they do?"

The potential is there; they get to see where the link is coming from, where it is going to and how many times it is clicked. If these URL shortner companies aren't selling this information to advertisers or search engines they are doing it wrong.
posted by Mitheral at 11:13 PM on April 1, 2011


bit.ly sells itself as a link tracking tool, right on its front page.
posted by hippybear at 11:32 PM on April 1, 2011


URL shorteners are a cancer in the guts of the web, and anyone who even suggests that their use should be anything but curtailed, reviled and punished is bad and should feel bad.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:08 AM on April 2, 2011 [11 favorites]


present company excepted
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:18 AM on April 2, 2011


Do you remember programming with GOTO? Wasn't that great?
posted by Wolfdog at 2:52 AM on April 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


My lawn, let me stress how much better it is without you pesky kids on it.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:04 AM on April 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


keeping the full URL = less mystery meat, people can hover and see what the link goes to. If we see you using a URL shortener at this point, we'll unshorten it for this reason.

THIS THIS THIS THIS THIS

URL shorteners are cancer. URL shorteners are one of the primary reasons I hate microblogging. URL shorteners are worse than Hitler.
posted by DU at 4:47 AM on April 2, 2011


Other than on twitter, why would anyone use these anywhere ever?

Sharepoint. It generates incredibly long URLs for internal links, that are often too long for its own hyperlink datatype, eg if you want to link to a document folder from a list or table.

Well thought out there, Microsoft.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:01 AM on April 2, 2011


Other than on twitter, why would anyone use these anywhere ever?

Sharepoint.


This is where I ask why someone would use Sharepoint :)

(Maybe it's just my bad experiences with bad Sharepoint admins. But man do I not miss working with it....)
posted by inigo2 at 5:11 AM on April 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I use URL shorteners when sending emails to people who have HTML turned off (lots of older Yahoo groups send everything in plain text) and who do not have sufficient technical understanding to rescue a very long link that's been broken up onto multiple lines. I always thought that was the main point of them - I was late to the Twitter party.
posted by SMPA at 7:09 AM on April 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Url shortners are also incredibly, uh, short-sighted. If the url shortening site goes out of business, all your links break.
posted by Georgina at 7:31 AM on April 2, 2011


Short pony
posted by Favorites Pony at 8:22 AM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


How about each user gets issued their own QR Code?





hamburger
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:22 AM on April 2, 2011


pjern: I'm surprised this pony hasn't pranced before.

Actually, I brought it up, before it became a real thing for MeFi links only. I'm futuristic like that.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:48 AM on April 2, 2011


PhoBWanKenobi: How about each user gets issued their own QR Code?

Ok. Here's yours. Untested, but should work.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:52 AM on April 2, 2011


It's too easy.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:52 AM on April 2, 2011


The fix for very long URLs is not URL-obfuscation. Just complain to (and resist) the ones making long URLs.
posted by DU at 12:11 PM on April 2, 2011


Site-specific URL shortening, like google maps's implementation, increases the level of trust I have in the link and decreases obfuscation by making it explicit that the content being linked to is on a site you know and trust. If all we had was the ability to use "http://mefi.us/post_number" to link to FPPs that might be a valid solution.
posted by ooga_booga at 12:44 PM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I use URL shorteners sometimes in mail to people like my mom, who simply don't understand how to resurrect a link which extends to two lines in text-only email.
posted by maxwelton at 12:53 PM on April 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Site-specific URL shortening, like google maps's implementation, increases the level of trust I have in the link and decreases obfuscation by making it explicit that the content being linked to is on a site you know and trust. If all we had was the ability to use "http://mefi.us/post_number" to link to FPPs that might be a valid solution.

Agree.
posted by gjc at 2:18 PM on April 2, 2011


If all we had was the ability to use "http://mefi.us/post_number" to link to FPPs that might be a valid solution.

I'm confused. You know we basically have this, right?

http://mefi.us/w/102145 goes to the current post at the top of MetaFilter.com.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:22 PM on April 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, a short link system for MeFi posts isn't what the OP was asking for. At least, to me, it read as a request for a general MeFi-hosted shortener system for arbitrary URLs. Admittedly, the request was ambiguous.

I use URL shorteners when sending emails to people who have HTML turned off (lots of older Yahoo groups send everything in plain text) and who do not have sufficient technical understanding to rescue a very long link that's been broken up onto multiple lines.

WHEN I WAS A KID, we surrounded links in angle brackets to help clients out. It works everywhere I can think of, though that isn't a guarantee that it actually does work everywhere.
posted by Mikey-San at 3:50 PM on April 2, 2011


(you never know how a client is going to render/present the content, so the angle brackets are really just hints that a client can use or ignore)
posted by Mikey-San at 3:51 PM on April 2, 2011


Ah, I had no idea that we could do that, but I do now and it will be quite useful, thanks Jessamyn!
posted by ooga_booga at 3:56 PM on April 2, 2011


a short link system for MeFi posts isn't what the OP was asking for

Actually, it was, but I screwed up asking the question in a royal manner.
posted by pjern at 9:18 PM on April 2, 2011


WHEN I WAS A KID, we surrounded links in angle brackets to help clients out.

I have found that outlook does not always seem to respect this convention.
posted by maxwelton at 9:19 PM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


amusingly, i have the same response to both replies:

welp
posted by Mikey-San at 10:40 PM on April 2, 2011


maxwelton: "I have found that outlook does not always seem to respect this convention"

I think there was an RFC proposing angle brackets for handling urls nicely in email, but I can't find it. rfc2369, sort of?

Kid's these days don't understand how ugly urls were back in my day.
posted by bleary at 11:37 AM on April 3, 2011


(In fact, one of my friends carried home the point by attempting to make the worst urls ever http://gianturl.com/)
posted by bleary at 11:38 AM on April 3, 2011


I don't see the point of a URL shortener, but I would like to see a URL expander that recognizes well-known shorteners like bit.ly, tinyurl, and Crisco (oh wait, that's a shortening), and inserts the destination URL.
posted by adamrice at 11:48 AM on April 3, 2011


What you are looking for is Long URL Please. It makes Twitter significantly less irritating for me.
posted by moss at 4:27 PM on April 3, 2011


The only valid reason for a URL shortener on mefi with it's unlimited character space is to hide tub girl, and we don't need that.

Hiding tub girl is exactly what we need.

Sharepoint. It generates incredibly long URLs for internal links, that are often too long for its own hyperlink datatype, eg if you want to link to a document folder from a list or table.

Well thought out there, Microsoft.


Wow, people actually put their sharepoint URLs into a third-party hosted service? Nice going there.
posted by odinsdream at 6:39 PM on April 3, 2011


Sharepoint.

See also: American Library Association. They made some dumb choices with their CMS a half-decade ago and now they're stuck with incredibly long URLs that not only sometimes don't fit in Twitter, they line wrap nearly everywhere. I just finished writing a book that had an extensive "web bibliography" at the end [I know...] and every single ALA.org URL wrapped while most did not. I had to get the publishers to shrink the font size to accommodate them, it was nuts. Because nothing says "Hi I'm an information professional who understands things like technology and taxonomy" than a URL like

http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/acrl/publications/nonserialtitles/acrlpublications.cfm


or

http://ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/banned/challengeslibrarymaterials/copingwithchallenges/strategiestips/index.cfm
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:53 PM on April 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


I dunno. I don't obsessively keep up with the latest thinking on stuff like this, and I am a Known Dissenter on matters Twitter, but for my part, I think that long URLs per se are not a problem, when they are human readable and semantic.

The two examples that jessamyn offers aren't very good by any of those measures though (although the second one isn't completely terrible).
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:25 PM on April 3, 2011


I was totally going to offer up pon.ie for this pony. Sadly it has already been registered by some wanker who isn't using it. (You are really not supposed to do that wih Irish domains. It's irksome.)
posted by DarlingBri at 7:30 PM on April 3, 2011


moss: "What you are looking for is Long URL Please. It makes Twitter significantly less irritating for me"

Thanks for posting this. It isn't listed as working in FF4, but there's a bookmarklet.
posted by bleary at 8:12 PM on April 3, 2011


DarlingBri writes "Sadly it has already been registered by some wanker who isn't using it. (You are really not supposed to do that wih Irish domains. It's irksome.)"

How do you know they aren't using it? Because their default web page is a holding page? Could be they are using it for email or hosting services. EG: My Teamspeak URL has a holding default web page.
posted by Mitheral at 8:28 PM on April 3, 2011


I realize there are bigger things going on, but I find it so odd that no one I have seen anywhere on the internet seems to remember that the ".ly" stands for Libya. So depending on how events pan out there, might not all those urls scattered everywhere be totally useless sometime soon?
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:37 PM on April 3, 2011


drjimmy11: So depending on how events pan out there, might not all those urls scattered everywhere be totally useless sometime soon

Not really, no. The authority for a ccTLD is granted by ICANN to a registrar (GPTC) not a country per se. Libya could cease to exist as a nation and the domain extension would still exist. If General Post & Telecomminications ceases to exist, ICANN can transfer services to another provider. Recent events had some impact on the network involved but it is reasonably redundant. See.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:03 AM on April 4, 2011


Wait, everybody doesn't use HugeURL?
posted by Evilspork at 4:33 PM on April 5, 2011


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