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Can rev="canonical" Replace URL-Shortening Services?

Soulskill posted about 5 years ago | from the snds-lk-a-pln dept.

Programming 354

Chris Shiflett writes "There's a new proposal ('URL shortening that doesn't hurt the Internet') floating around for using rev="canonical" to help put a stop to the URL-shortening madness. In order to avoid the great linkrot apocalypse, we can opt to specify short URLs for our own pages, so that compliant services (adoption is still low, because the idea is pretty fresh) will use our short URLs instead of TinyURL.com (or some other third-party alternative) replacements."

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"Great link apocolypse" WAT? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27550145)

I read the first link, sounds like complete and total batshit paranoia. I can't be alone in this opinion. Really, tinyurl has been around the entire 11+ years I've been on the internet, and somehow the internet's survived just fine.

tag:slownewsday anyone?

Re:"Great link apocolypse" WAT? (3, Funny)

whopub (1100981) | about 5 years ago | (#27550159)

Please, more comments, or I'll be forced to read the actual article. I don't want to be kicked off slashdot for RtFA...

Re:"Great link apocolypse" WAT? (2, Informative)

ultrabot (200914) | about 5 years ago | (#27550211)

Please, more comments, or I'll be forced to read the actual article. I don't want to be kicked off slashdot for RtFA...

Try to avoid reading the article, because it's pretty nonsensical. It may be the beer I was drinking, but I didn't really get what they are talking about.

Re:"Great link apocolypse" WAT? (5, Informative)

Feyr (449684) | about 5 years ago | (#27550351)

short summary: everyone should adopt this NewTechnology(tm) because it will make twitter work better

1. If everyone uses it
2. if twitter implements support for it

of course it's pretty much useless for everyone else

Re:"Great link apocolypse" WAT? (5, Informative)

ushering05401 (1086795) | about 5 years ago | (#27550387)

This story should be tagged Twitter.

This guy seems to be focusing on the meaningful identifier aspect of URL shortening for use in a space limited context - without actually confining his suggestion to use in that sort of environment.

He puts forth other reasons for using this method such as control over the persistence of the shortened URL, but that doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me... and then he goes back to mentioning Twitter.

Re:"Great link apocolypse" WAT? (1, Interesting)

mrmeval (662166) | about 5 years ago | (#27550163)

About what I was thinking. It sounds like someone pissed their panties about not counting click origin and in some way not making money. If the batshit paranoiac morons can't put up a shortened URL to START with then they need to gag on their own spittle.

Solving the wrong problem (4, Insightful)

CarpetShark (865376) | about 5 years ago | (#27550265)

Yes, TinyURL hasn't killed anyone. BUT... any attempt to fix this is entirely missing the point anyway. From the article:

I happen to think this URL is beautiful. :-) Unfortunately, it is sure to get mangled into some garbage URL if you try to talk about it on Twitter, because it's not very short. I really hate when that happens. What can I do?

If rev="canonical" gains momentum...

If they fix twitter to support links with proper labels or tag contents --- Oh, I don't know, like HTML has supported from the very beginning --- then there wouldn't be a problem.

Don't work around the bugs, fix the bugs. Links are designed for machines, the higher-level marked up text is for people.

Re:Solving the wrong problem (5, Funny)

rusl (1255318) | about 5 years ago | (#27550431)

But then you're going to have the problem solved instead of opening up a new can of worms with lots of jobs and neverending problems to solve. Intelligence is bad for the economy.

Re:Solving the wrong problem (2, Insightful)

Jurily (900488) | about 5 years ago | (#27550559)

If they fix twitter to support links with proper labels or tag contents --- Oh, I don't know, like HTML has supported from the very beginning --- then there wouldn't be a problem.

So you're proposing we don't fix the entire internet so a pointless little social service doesn't have to bugfix? Blasphemy!

Re:"Great link apocolypse" WAT? (5, Funny)

Sebilrazen (870600) | about 5 years ago | (#27550355)

Oh great, mysterious and anonymous time traveler, what year did you start using the internet so that we may know what year you are posting from and get lottery numbers, World Series and Superbowl winners from you?

From tinyurl:

Copyright © 2002-2009 Gilby Productions. All rights reserved.

(2009 - 2002) < 11+

Re:"Great link apocolypse" WAT? (2, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 5 years ago | (#27550533)

Even better:

me@myhost:~$ whois tinyurl.com

Whois Server Version 2.0
  Registrar of Record: TUCOWS, INC.
  Record last updated on 27-Jun-2008.
  Record expires on 27-Jan-2018.
  Record created on 27-Jan-2002.

Here we have the exact date of creation for TinyURL.com!

So, you're right. TinyURL celebrated its 7th birthday in January.

Re:"Great link apocolypse" WAT? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27550555)

You realize that there are hundreds if not thousands of these services, don't you? It's a really obvious way of putting yourself in the path of a lot of traffic, which you can hopefully monetize at some point, so everybody's doing it. Most of these services you've never even heard about, and those are not going to last. All links through these services are dead when the respective server's taken offline. Other short URL service operators may at some point sell their soul to advertisers and start framing the link targets with ads. Then all links turn into ad-ware.

but will they be cute? (5, Funny)

SethJohnson (112166) | about 5 years ago | (#27550161)

What value are these new URLs if they aren't cute?!? [socuteurl.com]


Re:but will they be cute? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27550257)

would be yet a clever thing!

Re:but will they be cute? (3, Funny)

digitalme2 (965595) | about 5 years ago | (#27550341)

This is why rel="cute" should be introduced. Then we will be able to avoid the so-called "cute linkrot" which, despite its name, will be ugly.

Re:but will they be cute? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27550435)

I'd also like to propose rel="evil" (for shock URLs and Microsoft) rel="nsfw" and rel="rickroll".

Re:but will they be cute? (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27550523)


Absolute foo...

WTF? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27550169)

I didn't understand a single word of the submission, and I used to teach Web design. Is it too much to ask submitters to define terms they use?

Re:WTF? (4, Informative)

Renderer of Evil (604742) | about 5 years ago | (#27550589)

This whole url shortening shit started to pick up steam few days ago when Digg introduced Diggbar - a hybrid of frame and url-shortening that framed other sites and did not display the proper site address. John Gruber went nuts and modified his blog to redirect users to a special page [digg.com]. Then he blogged for 2 days non-stop how to make diggbar go away. Since he's widely read around the web everyone started chiming in with their opinions on the general idea of url shortening services and how it hurts or helps the web.

Nerd bullshit. And not the good kind.

Re:WTF? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27550591)

Those that can't, teach...

Re:WTF? (2, Informative)

spydabyte (1032538) | about 5 years ago | (#27550617)

Yes it would be too much to ask. As a reader of slashdot it is your duty to understand terms or google it [justfuckinggoogleit.com] . If you didn't, a submitter would have to define every word entered, making submissions 100x as large, more complicated , and annoying to read. So please, for the sake of all that is good and holy, justfuckinggoogleit. Thanks.

sorry but I dont get... (1, Insightful)

johnjones (14274) | about 5 years ago | (#27550173)

what exactly is the point in URL shortening ?

the only argument I can see is publications and twitter

publications - there is no way that I am going to be able to example.com/typeskjd583 better than a URL this has been tried and frankly failed

twitter char limit - well actually twitter should solve this by offering their own service and key into what people are looking at thus having that knowledge inside twitter and being able to monitize it...

apart from those two reasons (which are false for I belive the reasons above) what other reasons are there ?

URL's are good because they are Uniform....


John Jones

Re:sorry but I dont get... (2, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 5 years ago | (#27550225)

For anything that isn't electronic, a shortened URL has you make less mistakes. For example: example.com/typeskjd583 is going to be more accurately typed than somesite.org/wiki/index/cool_tips/code/perl/hello_world.php . A lot of people when they see a site in print can easily mentally change it around, so somesite.org/wiki/index/cool_tips/code/perl/hello_world.php might become somesite.com/wiki/index/cool_tips/code/perl/hello_world.php , the shortened URL protects from this because people aren't trying to convert it to words and then type it, for example, something that was written as "Gray" may be mentally changed by someone to "Grey" because when they say the word "Gray" in their heads they see it written as "Grey".

Its like typing in those serial numbers with software compared to cheat codes in old-school video games. The serial numbers are abstract so the letters in it are simply letters, whereas the cheat code may spell part of some word, if someone frequently misspells it (or the code is a misspelling of a word), it may be harder to enter.

Re:sorry but I dont get... (1)

atraintocry (1183485) | about 5 years ago | (#27550433)

Just to play DA...what about passwords that are over 12 characters because they're a string of words?

Like HelloBeanSmile instead of !09jxkleZ. I'd probably have an easier time remembering the long url, assuming I understand "what it meant"...I don't even bother trying to remember YouTube URLs.

You're spot on about the problem of typing what you hear instead of what needs to be spelled, grey/gray, etc. Longer URLs introduce the problem of homophones and the awkardness of pronouncing syntax characters, even slashdot.org is an example of that.

Re:sorry but I dont get... (1)

Opyros (1153335) | about 5 years ago | (#27550281)

I use URL shortening all the time on Usenet (where line lengths are supposed to be kept below 80 characters).

Re:sorry but I dont get... (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 5 years ago | (#27550311)

Have you ever tried to post a link in chat which was anything longer than the domain name? It's quite easy for that to cover many lines of chat and get people annoyed.

It's not perfect, but it's far better than some of the alternatives.

Re:sorry but I dont get... (1)

teslatug (543527) | about 5 years ago | (#27550319)

Have you tried pasting in an IM window a Google maps URL? I'm guessing not or URL shortening would be painfully obvious to you.

Re:sorry but I dont get... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27550459)

I thought the U stood for Universal.

Re:sorry but I dont get... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27550489)

what exactly is the point in URL shortening ?

Outlook, the same program that has ruined email for the rest of us, continues its crusade by breaking long links into multiple lines. It's really annoying to puzzle together a multiline URL after outlook has broken it into as many pieces as it felt neccesary. Some people put alternate tinyurl links into their newsletters for this very reason, e.g. Bruce Schneier.

a better idea (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27550181)

how about we just kill all twitter users instead?

twitter (1)

game kid (805301) | about 5 years ago | (#27550243)

For when you don't even have the time to hear about Blogger, Wordpress, RSS, or HTML (let alone learn about 'em)!

Twats tweet on Twitters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27550259)

Twats tweet on Twitters

Re:a better idea (1)

atraintocry (1183485) | about 5 years ago | (#27550461)

Yes! And RSS, too. Back in my day we sent our content via carrier pigeon, and we had to train the pigeon ourselves!

Re:a better idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27550537)

Yeah, see, it's this sort of "Twitter is the future of communication!" nonsense that makes Twitter users obnoxious.

Good for you Twitter developers, you made an SMS-Web bridge and people seem to enjoy it, now just stop comparing yourselves to Morse and Bell you self-involved pricks, you did not actually invent anything.

Re:a better idea (1)

atraintocry (1183485) | about 5 years ago | (#27550597)

Heh, I'm not a twitter developer. I didn't intend to compare it to the telephone, that's for sure. It's a cute toy.

It's basically replaced IM for me, and in some cases short emails. I understand that it gets mentioned way too much on CNN, etc, and trust me I cringe as much as anyone else when that happens. But it's not like the world's gonna end because people are firing off quick messages from their phones.

It's like RSS...I don't need it, but I like it. I'm sure I could karma whore a little bit by making disparaging comments about it but the fact is it's interesting and somewhat useful.

Shorten links to avoid messes like this: (4, Insightful)

wiredog (43288) | about 5 years ago | (#27550191)

Re:Shorten links to avoid messes like this: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27550205)


Re:Shorten links to avoid messes like this: (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27550289)


That's an application issue.. (1)

msimm (580077) | about 5 years ago | (#27550611)

not a url issue. There's no reason they couldn't parameterize it with a more legible url like developers.slashdot.org/comments/119647 by parsing and then interpreting the url.

I have an easier solution: (0, Flamebait)

Mr. Picklesworth (931427) | about 5 years ago | (#27550209)

How about Twitter just stops arbitrarily limiting characters. Go by word count, perhaps?

Arbitrary (5, Informative)

Senjutsu (614542) | about 5 years ago | (#27550269)

Twitter is essentially an SMS aggregation and redistribution tool. SMS is limited to 140 character messages. I do not think you understand the meaning of the word "arbitrary".

Re:Arbitrary (2, Informative)

frickenate (1530281) | about 5 years ago | (#27550509)

SMS is limited to 140 character messages.

Actually, it's 140 bytes, not 140 characters. The GSM 3.38 alphabet [smsmac.com] is 7-bit, thus allowing one to squeeze 160 characters into this 140 bytes. The exception is a few punctuation characters, which take up 2 bytes each. In order to transport characters not covered by the GSM 3.38 alphabet, one must use the 16-bit UCS-2 encoding which thus limits one to 70 characters. There's no technical reason restricting Twitter from allowing 140 rather than 160 characters, unless there's an issue I am not aware of (perhaps one or more major mobile networks are broken and only allow 140 characters rather than 140 bytes?).

Re:Arbitrary (1)

frickenate (1530281) | about 5 years ago | (#27550593)

The exception is a few punctuation characters, which take up 2 bytes each.

Oops, I meant to say each of the affected punctuation characters takes up 2 characters of the 160 available characters. So 14 bits, not 2 bytes.

Re:Arbitrary (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27550547)

Your mom is an aggregation and redistribution tool. And she certainly didn't limit herself to 140 characters.

Re:I have an easier solution: (5, Interesting)

Christophotron (812632) | about 5 years ago | (#27550373)

How about Twitter just stops arbitrarily limiting characters. Go by word count, perhaps?

I know some avid twitter users, and the majority of them apparently use the idiotic SMS message system to 'tweet' each other all throughout the day on their phones. Twitter can't abandon the 140-character limit for this reason.

For the record, I am against anything that keeps the SMS system relevant in this day and age. It should have been abandoned long ago in favor of standard data packets on the internet, rather than control packets on a proprietary wireless system. There's no good reason to keep this system alive when it either forces you to pay $X per month for it, or pay $.15 per 140 characters when one of your idiot friends 'texts' you. There's no way (that I know of) to force incoming SMS to route through GPRS, so you are hit with SMS fees even when you already pay for unlimited data. It also invites spam that you actually DO pay for, quite literally, and from which the wireless carrier profits as well. It should be illegal for the carrier to charge you for incoming SMS messages. Anyone who agrees with me should call their congressperson to protest this policy and call their wireless carrier to block all SMS messages.

Re:I have an easier solution: (1)

gnud (934243) | about 5 years ago | (#27550413)

Here in Norway sending an SMS was approx. $0.15 five-six years ago. Today it's as low as $0.03 - depending on plan of course. Receiving has always been free, AFAIK.

And Norway is supposed to be a really expensive country. All that crap about US telcos must be true =)

The SMS system is kinda outdated though -- on new years eve, messages are often delayed for 30 minutes or more - I've gotten a 'happy new year' as late as 1:20

Re:I have an easier solution: (1)

Dionysus (12737) | about 5 years ago | (#27550515)

I've gotten a 'happy new year' as late as 1:20

You're lucky. I get "Happy New Year" a day late from my US friends (even taken into account the time difference)

Re:I have an easier solution: (5, Insightful)

he-sk (103163) | about 5 years ago | (#27550437)

LOL! Only in America, the free market bastion of the world, do you have to pay for incoming texts.

Re:I have an easier solution: (3, Informative)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | about 5 years ago | (#27550463)

1999 called, it wants its charges back.

People pay for SMS in your country? Here even pay and go plans have unlimited SMS bundles.

And I can't even parse this statement.. "or pay $.15 per 140 characters when one of your idiot friends 'texts' you"

How can your friends make you pay for SMS? Do you have some way of sending bills over it or something?

Re:I have an easier solution: (2, Informative)

ghyspran (971653) | about 5 years ago | (#27550539)

In the US, if someone sends you a text message, you have to pay for it, and if you don't have a plan each text typically costs ~$0.15

Re:I have an easier solution: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27550505)

I don't use twitter... Could someone explain the 140-character limit? SMS messages are 140 bytes, 7-bit encoded, resulting in an availability of 160 characters.

Re:I have an easier solution: (1)

glwtta (532858) | about 5 years ago | (#27550583)

SMS messages are 140 bytes, 7-bit encoded, resulting in an availability of 160 characters.

They reserved 20 characters for twitter metadata (username, for one thing).

Re:I have an easier solution: (1)

glwtta (532858) | about 5 years ago | (#27550599)

Anyone who agrees with me should call their congressperson to protest this policy.

Or better yet, text them.

Re:I have an easier solution: (1)

Bieeanda (961632) | about 5 years ago | (#27550497)

The problem there is defining words. If you use spaces as a delimiter, people will be forced to write posts like they would telegrams, with no particles, conjunctions or anything else to get in the way. The enterprising joker will simply replace every space in the Gutenberg version of War and Peace with an underscore, and flood the service.

Re:I have an easier solution: (2, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 5 years ago | (#27550575)

Because of this:

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&c2coff=1&rls=GGLG%2CGGLG%3A2005-26%2CGGLG%3Aen&q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2Fsearch%3Fhl%3Den%26lr%3D%26c2coff%3D1%26rls%3DGGLG%252CGGLG%253A2005-26%252CGGLG%253Aen%26q%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.google.com%252Fsearch%253Fhl%253Den%2526lr%253D%2526c2coff%253D1%2526rls%253DGGLG%25252CGGLG%25253A2005-26%25252CGGLG%25253Aen%2526q%253Dhttp%25253A%25252F%25252Fwww.google.com%25252Fsearch%25253Fsourceid%25253Dnavclient%252526ie%25253DUTF-8%252526rls%25253DGGLG%25252CGGLG%25253A2005-26%25252CGGLG%25253Aen%252526q%25253Dhttp%2525253A%2525252F%2525252Fwww%2525252Egoogle%2525252Ecom%2525252Fsearch%2525253Fsourceid%2525253Dnavclient%25252526ie%2525253DUTF%2525252D8%25252526rls%2525253DGGLG%2525252CGGLG%2525253A2005%2525252D26%2525252CGGLG%2525253Aen%25252526q%2525253Dhttp%252525253A%252525252F%252525252Fuk2%252525252Emultimap%252525252Ecom%252525252Fmap%252525252Fbrowse%252525252Ecgi%252525253Fclient%252525253Dpublic%2525252526GridE%252525253D%252525252D0%252525252E12640%2525252526GridN%252525253D51%252525252E50860%2525252526lon%252525253D%252525252D0%252525252E12640%2525252526lat%252525253D51%252525252E50860%2525252526search%252525255Fresult%252525253DLondon%25252525252CGreater%252525252520London%2525252526db%252525253Dfreegaz%2525252526cidr%252525255Fclient%252525253Dnone%2525252526lang%252525253D%2525252526place%252525253DLondon%252525252CGreater%252525252BLondon%2525252526pc%252525253D%2525252526advanced%252525253D%2525252526client%252525253Dpublic%2525252526addr2%252525253D%2525252526quicksearch%252525253DLondon%2525252526addr3%252525253D%2525252526scale%252525253D100000%2525252526addr1%252525253D%2526btnG%253DSearch%26btnG%3DSearch&btnG=Search [google.com]

An Historical Reverie (1)

DynaSoar (714234) | about 5 years ago | (#27550223)

How many recall such threats to the internet as the massive ascii storm caused by Cantor and Siegel and the like, or the sudden tsunami of traffic due to graphics being constantly broadcast by the world wide webby thingy?

Those and many other phenomena usually resulted in people running around with their hair on fire, flapping their arms and screaming DEATH OF THE INTERNET!

The majority of bandwidth is taken up by email spam and botnet traffic. Next to those URL relay traffic isn't even noticeable.

Film at 11.

Solution to a problem that doesn't exist (0)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | about 5 years ago | (#27550233)

I'm not entirely sure I follow that godawful summary, but after reading TFA and various places it's referenced...
  • As far as I can tell, this "new proposal" isn't anything to do with standard HTML, but rather someone's blog posting about the idea that has been 'twitted' and blogged about a lot?
  • The same thing can be accomplished with a URL rewrite, without needing to modify each and every individual application to understand these URLs.
  • WTF is "linkrot apocalypse"?

So I guess what I'm saying is ... um, what's the point?

Re:Solution to a problem that doesn't exist (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27550283)

Linkrot happens when a URL shortening site (such as tinyurl) is pulled offline. Billions of dead links is not good.

Re:Solution to a problem that doesn't exist (1)

E IS mC(Square) (721736) | about 5 years ago | (#27550299)

Any article mentioning twitter is nothing but fart-sniffing.

This is third article here on /. in last 12 hours which has something to do with twitter. They all have been equally pointless.

Re:Solution to a problem that doesn't exist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27550483)

It is a real problem. First, it is a problem from the linked site's perspective, because short-url services gain opaque links through which they redirect to some other site, lifting up the short-url site in search engines at the cost of the linked site. Good search engines do follow the redirection and attribute the link to the correct site, but that depends on the technical implementation, which can change at any time. Second, talking about changing at any time, the short-url service may go out of business. In that case, all links through that service are stranded, even though the actual link target still exists. That is the "linkrot apocalypse".

Site authors are between a rock and a hard place with regards to canonical URLs. Search engines place high value on descriptive URLs. You can't make the URLs too long, but make them short and nondescript and you're throwing easy and legal SEO potential away. On the other hand, users don't want to enter long URLs, so they use short link services. This rel= standard doesn't solve that problem. It is meant to make it easier for sites to use additional information in the URL but identify pages which are really the same to search engines. For example, you could have a URL parameter which selects one of several designs. The search engine would normally see these as several individual pages. Even the order of URL parameters is technically significant. This is currently solved by heuristics by which the search engines try to identify similar pages, but with this standard you could avoid misclassifications by simply telling the search engine what the canonical URL for the content is.

A possible solution is to list a short URL inside the document, in addition to the "long" canonical URL. That would still leave you with potentially long domain names, but of course that also has the advantage that you see which site is being linked to.

a revolutionary idea! (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27550255)

how about sites just fix their absurdly long urls?

Urls (1)

maitai (46370) | about 5 years ago | (#27550273)

I'm sorry, but why should I have to change my URL just because of twitter?

There's the 160 char limit of SMS messages and Opera Mini is limited to what, 214 chars for a URL? Or something like that.

Not my fault, and no reason I should fall within their limitations. Tell them to fix their side.

(note, someone who is getting really annoyed at some browsers suddenly having a limit to the length of a URL)

Re:Urls (1)

maitai (46370) | about 5 years ago | (#27550325)

I just read tfa... and how is this different than any other 301/302 redirect, or mod_rewrite rule I can put on my own site?

Standardized (1)

KingSkippus (799657) | about 5 years ago | (#27550469)

how is this different than any other 301/302 redirect

It's a "reverse" 301/302 redirect. It's not telling the short URL where to find your long URL, it's telling your long URL where to find the short URL.

In other words, services like Twitter will see:

<link rev="canonical" href="http://mydomain.org/short" />

And it will actually post a link to http: //mydomain.org/short instead of your long domain name in its text.

No one is making you do anything. (1)

KingSkippus (799657) | about 5 years ago | (#27550397)

...why should I have to change my URL just because of twitter?

No one is going to make you do anything. This is completely optional. If you want to provide short URLs to your site, it's a way for you to do so without going through a third-party service like tinyurl. If you want to continue using long URLs, there's absolutely nothing stopping you from doing so.

Is there some particular reason why you don't want people to have a standardized way of providing short URLs if it doesn't affect you at all?

useless? (0)

spectrokid (660550) | about 5 years ago | (#27550277)

Ok, so they want to put a header in their HTML which says: " I know the URL for this shit is http://mysite.org/someverylongshit [mysite.org], but if you ask me for http://mysite.org/shorty [mysite.org] then I will serve you the exact same page, cross my heart. In other words, each site gets it own tinyurl.com. Which leaves us whith the big fucking white elefant in the room. If you are going to create short URLS for your pages, why not use them directly, you know, on top where they belong?

Er, server-side symlinks? (1)

Rene S. Hollan (1943) | about 5 years ago | (#27550309)

I guess I'm stupid. Is there any reason not to have a nice neat hierarchy on the server, that is mirrored with a collapsed symlink farm, with the symlinks exposed in the web pages? Yes, this means one has to map the long names to the short names when generating pages, but that can be an authoring-time issue or dynamic page generation issue. Heck, output-rewriting of the page can do this.

Re:Er, server-side symlinks? (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about 5 years ago | (#27550381)

Was about to suggest that too. My biggest concern is that the "solution" dont solves one of the biggest problems: 2 access to get that URL. I must access the short url, wherever it is, parse/interpret headers, and then go to the real page.

With a simple solution that could be a symlink (or server configuration, or catch-all index.php that serves all the content directly) the client only must do one connection to get the real content of the page.

Of course, there is the option that your server/cms/whatever support meaningful short urls, like this [tikiwiki.org] rewrite rules.

"rel," not "rev" (1, Informative)

BorgCopyeditor (590345) | about 5 years ago | (#27550323)

It's "rel," not "rev."

Re:"rel," not "rev" (1)

jaaron (551839) | about 5 years ago | (#27550375)

Yeah, I don't get this. The Google blog article [blogspot.com] uses rel. Where did rev come from?

Re:"rel," not "rev" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27550419)

no, he's talking about rev=, as in reverse, as in the opposite of rel=canonical. It indicates that the current address of the page is the canonical form of the address indicated in the href= part of the link node, and that this href is indeed a shortened URL, to be used as the preferred "short version".

The point is, url shorteners are evil for a number of reasons (they hide the actual destination, they act as untrusted middlemen that could decide to add ad pages in your way, they could disappear and leave all short links useles, they can track your clicks accross domains...).

Apart from that, i can't comment on the validity of the proposition.

It's a phone problem (2, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | about 5 years ago | (#27550367)

This is a phone-related problem. The basic problem is that URLs are being sent to devices that don't cut, paste, and bookmark. This is only an issue if you have to type the URL manually.

Maybe what's needed are smarter Twitter clients.

Re:It's a phone problem (1)

DrGamez (1134281) | about 5 years ago | (#27550439)

I almost wish Twitter would ignore URLs when doing the character count. Possibly shorten them some how.

Re:It's a phone problem (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 5 years ago | (#27550623)

This is what the frickin' (X)HTML anchor tag is for! Humans get a (possibly short) readable link, the machine gets something that tells it where to go.

my link [slashdot.org]

Why is this so hard for people to understand?

Twitter should solve its own problem (2, Insightful)

digitalme2 (965595) | about 5 years ago | (#27550407)

Instead of using a plethora of different URL shortening services, any of which might disappear at some point in the future, Twitter should implement its own URL shortening service (using, say, the domain http://tw.it/ [tw.it] or similar) and thereby shorten any URL's that Twitter users post. Assuming the Twitter team can manage this (given their track record with things like message queues, however...) then there would be no possibility of linkrot.

Unless you're using shortened URL's somewhere besides Twitter, of course. But why on Earth would you do that?

Alternative Solution: Implement it Right? (5, Insightful)

Kupo (573763) | about 5 years ago | (#27550409)

There's all this talk of URL shortening services - whether third-party, or in-house implementation.

The question here is this: Why are the URLs so long to begin with?

Why does it have to be:

A full title in the URL is, IMHO, a very inefficient idea. The excuses I've heard are:

Search Engine Optimizations (better performance when keywords are in the URL)
Okay, I can't argue that some search engines do stuff like that. But shouldn't the TITLE or META tags have more bearing on this than how ridiculously long the URL is?

"The URL has meaning, so you know what you're clicking", Context, etc.
I suppose that when I see a URL like
as opposed to something like
I would have a slightly better idea of the article's content before clicking on it. But then again, I can't really say that I've decided against clicking on a link just because of the link URL. I would, instead, decide whether I'd want to visit the link by its link text/description.

So <a href="http://example.org/blog/526">blog on link shortening</a> would still have the same effect on me as a long URL IMO. If it were bookmarked, the same rules would apply.

Hell, if I were handed an obfuscated shortened URL without context, I'd know even less of what I was getting myself into.

I think the proper solution is to just stop making ridiculously long URLs to begin with, so we don't have to rely on obfuscation/hashing/shortening to accommodate services that have character limit restrictions. And we'd save bandwidth too [slashdot.org], apparently. Win-win?

Re:Alternative Solution: Implement it Right? (2, Interesting)

noidentity (188756) | about 5 years ago | (#27550527)

First off, why do long URLs even matter? Is this link [shiflett.org] too long? Ahhh, you don't even care, because it's a normal link! But let's say the length is a problem. On the linked page, the author suggests that he could have his site also provide an alternate shorter URL for the same page, and have the HTML href tag encode both the long and short versions. Here's what I don't grasp: why not just use the short URL to begin with, and never even post the long one?!? No new HTML features are needed.

Re:Alternative Solution: Implement it Right? (2, Interesting)

Darkk (1296127) | about 5 years ago | (#27550609)

The biggest problem with long URLs would be in e-mails as they usually get word wrapped. So when they click on it may not properly cut/paste the full URL into the default browser.

Every try cut and pasting this LONG URL from e-mail to the browser if you're using a small monitor, i.e. laptop?

http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=2&FORM=LMLTCP&cp=37.827041~-122.422875&style=h&lvl=18&tilt=-90&dir=0&alt=-1000&phx=0&phy=0&phscl=1&encType=1 [live.com]

Re:Alternative Solution: Implement it Right? (2, Interesting)

Phroggy (441) | about 5 years ago | (#27550569)

I've actually been thinking about switching to longer URLs for my own blog. I'm currently using numerical filenames, because it seemed simpler at the time, but the number is basically meaningless to any human looking at the URL. Links within my site always have title tags, but every once in awhile I'll send somebody the URL to one of my blog entries, and it would be nice to see at a glance which entry it is (in case you've read it already).

To hell with Twitter. :-P

Re:Alternative Solution: Implement it Right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27550607)

Hi. Welcome to the Internet. You must be new here.

To answer your question, the reason the TITLE and especially META tags have lowered/no bearing on a search engine ranking is because more than a few years ago, spammers and shills learned that they could abuse those tags and get higher search engine rankings, and thus the search engines deprecated those tags for engine ranking.

To answer the second question: goatse. Not that tinyurl or anything else helped with that, or that longer URLs did much either, but if you've been to a site before, especially if you did so looking for cross-site request forgery information, seeing a short url that says /csrf might actually spark your memory.

It doesn't solve the problem. (2, Insightful)

Knowbuddy (21314) | about 5 years ago | (#27550427)

Here's the thing: it's not just the path that is the problem, it's also the domain name. You can shorten "/blog/2009/apr/save-the-internet-with-rev-canonical" to "/abc123", but if your domain name is something plus-sized like "rickosborne.org" or worse ... how much have you really gained?

It's a little helpful, but not really. What you've done is remove the little bit of semantic meaning from the link, all in the name of being able to ego surf easier. Huzzah.

Well, I call for long URLs (4, Insightful)

athlon02 (201713) | about 5 years ago | (#27550485)

All this short URL stuff sounds like some phishing scam if you ask me. Short cryptic URLs obviously exist to make me transpose a couple of letters or numbers and end up at some fake bank site. No, give me large detailed URLs so I can see those dead giveaways like pid=poor_sucker&sid=steal_credit_card_info !

Short URLs indeed... no thank you Nigerian scammers... I won't be transferring any large sums today!

On a serious note, why is this news exactly?

Dump Twitter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27550493)

Problem solved!

Wait a minute... (1)

creimer (824291) | about 5 years ago | (#27550535)

I thought the real purpose of shorten URLs was to help all the memory-challenged people who go to Google to search for the website instead of typing a long URL into the address bar. :P

URL mapping is the answer (4, Interesting)

Skapare (16644) | about 5 years ago | (#27550545)

Unfortunately, it's not yet an integral part of web frameworks that I have seen. So I am adding it in a new web site I'm building. It means I have to add the feature to the web server.

It works like this. Every part of the web site code that builds URLs for the same site passes them first through the mapping logic. This basically builds an SHA1 checksum of the canonicalized URL string. Then it looks up the string in a fast database (I'll be using Berkeley DB for this). If it's already there, and is the same URL, it generates a new URL that references the checksum. If it was a different URL, it notifies me that it found an SHA1 collision. If not already there, it adds it. The original URL is thus replaced with the mapping URL.

Code added to the web server will be designed to detect checksum URLs. If it looks like one, it looks it up in the database to get the original URL, and proceeds with the request using that URL. Original URLs would still be processed as usual, in case they leak out, or are intentionally made to bypass the mapping for special purposes. Basically it's like a tiny URL service, but integrated without the need to do a redirect.

One thing I am looking at doing is shortening even these URLs, even though they should be short enough already. But this raises the chance for a collision to the point I'll need to add logic to deal with it. How I would do that is similar to a hash data structure collision, but by expanding on the SHA1 checksum by adding back digits that were removed to shorten it.

External URLs to other sites can be done the same way. This does add the extra redirection. I could limit the use of this only to long external links, since this being a web interface, should handle long external links OK. It could be an option.

Whooosh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27550573)

I personally welcome link rot as a lesson in impermanence.

A Few Responses (5, Interesting)

shiflett (151538) | about 5 years ago | (#27550595)

A couple of good questions I have seen, and my best attempt to answer them:

1. Don't you mean rel? No, I mean rev. It indicates a reverse link.

2. Why not make your URLs short in the first place? I happen to like my URLs and have made them as short as I want them. They're only too long in some very specific use cases, like Twitter. I could just complain about Twitter, or I could support an idea that makes URL shortening suck less. I chose the latter.

Thanks for reading, and please do feel free to criticize whatever you think is wrong with this idea. I'd like a way to indicate a preferred short URL for my own stuff, and this seems like a pretty good way to do it that makes sense semantically and is easy to implement. For an ongoing discussion about adding an HTTP header to do the same thing (so that only a HEAD request is required), read here:

http://shiflett.org/blog/2009/apr/a-rev-canonical-http-header [shiflett.org]

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