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Is the Web Heading Toward Redirect Hell?

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the here-let-me-bounce-you-a-few-times dept.

Google 321

Ant snips from Royal Pingdom this excerpt: "Google is doing it. Facebook is doing it. Yahoo is doing it. Microsoft is doing it. And soon Twitter will be doing it. We're talking about the apparent need of every web service out there to add intermediate steps to sample what we click on before they send us on to our real destination. This has been going on for a long time and is slowly starting to build into something of a redirect hell on the Web. And it has a price."

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How do you get offenders to stop? (4, Interesting)

alain94040 (785132) | more than 3 years ago | (#33678818)

Funny just this morning I noticed that it took at least 5 redirects or more for Google to let me login to Analytics. It felt like my browser had a life of its own!

The real problem though are the link shorteners. I'd like to vote with my feet and never click on them, but for many, they are like drugs, because they let you track your influence (how many people clicked) in real-time. It's especially bad on slower connections such as smartphones. Not everyone has 1MB/s.

Any ideas on how to convince people to stop?

--
Don't work on your startup project without a safety net [fairsoftware.net]

Re:How do you get offenders to stop? (5, Insightful)

duguk (589689) | more than 3 years ago | (#33678842)

Not everyone has 1MB/s.

Any ideas on how to convince people to stop?

Surely it's the latency, not the bandwidth that is the problem with 301s?
They can't be much more than a few hundred bytes!

Re:How do you get offenders to stop? (2, Interesting)

sarx (1905268) | more than 3 years ago | (#33678962)

I agree; but to be fair, I think it is easy for people with a little less knowledge to heuristically lump bandwidth and latency together, especially if they aren't dealing with (say) satellite links, because links with very low latency are in practice somewhat more likely to have high bandwidth. So if it is wrong, it is at least understandably wrong.

Re:How do you get offenders to stop? (3, Interesting)

skids (119237) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679098)

Not to mention, when a shared medium or statistically multiplexed PtP link of low bandwidth has congestion, latency is higher than on a higher bandwidth link, which has a much shallower queue built up and/or takes less time to wait for the 1500 byte packet that just started being transmitted to get out of the way. The distinction is only really relevant when you're discussing technicals of TCP window scaling and bandwidth delay product. Certainly not to the end user: "slow" is "slow".

Re:How do you get offenders to stop? (2, Informative)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679104)

But it's easy to explain the difference, so it's not entirely understandable.

It's like understanding the difference between top speed and acceleration. Not a terribly hard concept.

The real problem is the "internet" is a magic black box. Most people don't understand it's really just a big network, and works like a network... actually, somewhat similar to a much-quicker-delivery postal system, in simplistic terms. Except that there's a "request" thing, not just a "send" thing.

Re:How do you get offenders to stop? (1, Informative)

Menkhaf (627996) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679314)

A better analogy is water pipes. Bandwidth is width (the bigger, the bigger throughput), latency is pressure (the higher, the faster "it" travels).
Of course, this being /., your almost-car analogy is probably better suited.

Re:How do you get offenders to stop? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33679348)

So you're saying the internet really is a series of tubes!

Re:How do you get offenders to stop? (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679352)

True. I've used that one, too, hehe.

Of course, then they ask what is "it" then? ... ;)

Re:How do you get offenders to stop? (1)

Menkhaf (627996) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679428)

As the AC parent sibling is getting at, just explain them it's really made of tubes, and try to avoid any questions about why postage around the world still takes at least a few days, "when I can play Farmville with my cousin in China in seconds".

Re:How do you get offenders to stop? (2, Funny)

spazdor (902907) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679122)

What an uncharacteristically even-handed Slashdot response!

You must be a noob.

Re:How do you get offenders to stop? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33679160)

There's also the added DNS lookups to consider.

Re:How do you get offenders to stop? (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679210)

A few hundred bytes ought to be enough for anyone.

Re:How do you get offenders to stop? (3, Interesting)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 3 years ago | (#33678854)

Any ideas on how to convince people to stop?

Create a web service where you can provide a shortened URL and it will respond back with the full URL. Make sure this web service caches the redirect for at least 24 hours. You instantly kill any reason for the redirect to be there (their counts will no longer be accurate).

If someone wants to use this sort of service, I'd be happy to throw it together and provide it for free.

Re:How do you get offenders to stop? (5, Informative)

tom17 (659054) | more than 3 years ago | (#33678988)

Like this? http://unshorten.com/ [unshorten.com]

I just 'thought of' that only to find it was done aages ago...

Re:How do you get offenders to stop? (4, Interesting)

dyingtolive (1393037) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679088)

Nice. If that got turned into a firefox plugin to realtime decrypt the links...

Re:How do you get offenders to stop? (3, Interesting)

eth1 (94901) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679380)

Yeah. Load the page as normal, then, in the background, replace the redirects with direct links.

As a bonus, if enough people started using it, it would so bork up the tracking stats (and the load on the redirect servers) that using redirects like that would be less appealing in the first place.

Re:How do you get offenders to stop? (1)

tagno25 (1518033) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679418)

Nice. If that got turned into a firefox plugin to realtime decrypt the links...

There is a greasemonkey script to do just that.

Re:How do you get offenders to stop? (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679208)

Oh thank god. I already have too much to do.

Re:How do you get offenders to stop? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33678914)

the problem is service providers (facebook, twitter etc) making user-posted outbound links go through their service first, for tracking.

The only obvious workaround for me would be a cloud-based service that sends the user to their destination without it passing through the service provider's server. It's require a backend database of all known shortened urls and their "long url" counterparts, as well as some logic to look up the redirect if it hasn't been encounted before. Users would install a greasemonkey script / add-on / service that catches these links before they're submitted and instead looks up the full URL from our service.

Such an approach will work until links are made JS-only, and then scraping becomes hard.

At any rate, we could just go with it. We're tracked everywhere anyway - it's simpler just to go with it. I don't know of anyone who's come to harm from simple tracking like loyalty cards and whatnot.

Re:How do you get offenders to stop? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33678974)

I try to start from wikipedia whenever I can. I block as much google as I can, and only use other SE's when I have no other choice.

Re:How do you get offenders to stop? (4, Informative)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679006)

There is an RFC out there (I forget the number off the top of my head) which limits redirects to five. IE6 went above spec and allowed ... 20... I think. IE8 has shortened to allow 10 redirects. FF and Chrome allow the same or less. There is a limit on redirects by RFC, but many websites don't follow the rule and many browsers are forced to compensate because of this.

Ironically, I was just recently accessing a gmail based email system with an Android phone and suddenly I get the message "too many redirects". So now there's no way my google phone can access my google mail. -1 for that one Google.

Re:How do you get offenders to stop? (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679126)


  1.      
  2. Convince the cell phone industry to modernize the MMS/SMS system to allow messages longer than 256 bytes. (Sort-of done - you can send pics in MMS messages which are longer than 256-bytes, so if the 'content' of your message is actually in the 'attachment' to the message and the main text is essentially ignored, you could maybe get longer messages.
         
  3. Update everybody's phones (everywhere in the world) to be able to receive the longer messages.
         
  4. Make it part of the SMS/TXT standard to allow HTML (or a simplified subset thereof) which can be rendered by the messaging app built into the phones (so that long URL's can be hidden in nice anchor tags as in standard web-pages).
         
  5. Update everybody's phones (everywhere in the world) to support the new standard with embedded HTML.
         
  6. Convince twitter (and similar services - facebook, identi.ca, diaspora, etc), now that phones can send and receive longer messages, with HTML embedded, to update their services to allow longer messages, with HTML embedded.
         
  7. Finally, convince all the people that really like the ability to track where clicks *really* come from [snowballfactory.com] that they should stop.

Personally, I'd like to see url shorteners die, because of a number of problems, but realistically I know it's not gonna happen. Things I don't like about shorteners:


  •      
  • You don't really know where the URL is going to take you. Surprise! You're at a site with a browser exploit, or a phishing site pretending to be something else, or a goatse site. Perhaps such 'shortened' URLs could potentially even be hijacked by whoever owns the shortening service - redirected so somewhere other than what was originally intended, like to a competitor's site.
         
  • You're doing research on something and trying to review tweets from 2 or 5 years ago (or maybe a search engine sent you to an older page about a topic which you are researching, and someone in the comments of the page included a shortened URL to a related page which would be of interest to you), and the shortener url is no longer valid, either because it expired, or the site was bought by a competitor and shut down, or just went bankrupt, whatever, and you HAVE NO IDEA what was originally being linked. At least if you had the original URL, and the original site was no longer available, there's a small chance you might be able to find a copy of the linked page in the Wayback machine/Internet Archive, or similar.
         
  • Someone who isn't the site you are going to visit, is tracking your browsing of that site.

There's probably other problems I haven't thought of just yet.

Re:How do you get offenders to stop? (1)

tacensi (706781) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679328)

Hummm... That goatse idea is very interesting. Imagine a flood of shortened urls, all pointing to goatse. That along with a Twitter exploit like the one from yesterday, would be funny as hell.

Re:How do you get offenders to stop? (2, Funny)

CraftyJack (1031736) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679154)

Funny just this morning I noticed that it took at least 5 redirects or more for Google to let me login to Analytics. It felt like my browser had a life of its own!

Sure, but you're already saving 2-5 seconds per search with Google instant, so you still come out ahead.

Re:How do you get offenders to stop? (3, Informative)

kurokame (1764228) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679324)

You know those exploding consoles on Star Trek? Did you ever wonder why someone would invent exploding keyboards? Now you know.

Re:How do you get offenders to stop? (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679362)

Well, for Twitter at least, you need link shorteners if you're posting a google map or other generated URL. Some simply won't fit into 140 characters, and most won't fit into that with a description.

Facebook's 400 character limit is much less objectionable, but you definitely bump up against them sometimes.

Re:How do you get offenders to stop? (1)

netsharc (195805) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679482)

Actually, why do people take the 140 character limit as if it's the speed of light anyway? I know it's because of SMS, but this is the freaking 21st century! It's like forcing people to use only 26 letters to write stuff because it has to be compatible with the telegraph, and Morse only has encoding for said letters! Arrrgggghhh!!!

Re:How do you get offenders to stop? (1)

OnePumpChump (1560417) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679398)

Standardize URLs and/or message boards/blogs such that any URL can be posted without being broken. Also, require URLs to be short enough to be passed from person to person by voice. Until then, link shorteners aren't going anywhere.

Re:How do you get offenders to stop? (1)

richlv (778496) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679406)

message to google.

i use your search engine a lot. quite often i also use it over slow and low latency links. i also like to right click damn urls and save/reuse them.

oh, so, the main message.

these redirect urls on the search result page suck, blow and fucking annoy me. not always, but some good 80% of the time i use your search engine. so, please, get rid of that crap. i don't feel like using bing or whatever, but you are just making it easier for somebody else to provide a better product/service.

Advertising. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33678848)

This is what happens when advertising and privacy are not regulated. You can blame the US for a lack of privacy laws.

bit.ly (1, Funny)

eflester (715184) | more than 3 years ago | (#33678856)

I reached this article from Twitter, via this URL: http://bit.ly/cTGasX [bit.ly]

Re:bit.ly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33679350)

goatsee alert

It's a shame too... (4, Insightful)

bziman (223162) | more than 3 years ago | (#33678874)

I refuse to click on any "shortened" link, because I want to know PRECISELY where I'm going to end up. Thank you Slashdot and goatse.cx. If it's important enough to go visit, it's important enough to spell out properly. And thank you, but I don't live my life via SMS, so the few extra characters is worth my piece of mind.

Re:It's a shame too... (4, Informative)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 3 years ago | (#33678942)

TinyURL has a cool feature [tinyurl.com] to help with this. For TinyURLs, of course.

Re:It's a shame too... (4, Informative)

piquadratCH (749309) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679226)

With bit.ly, you can simply append a "+" to the URL and get an information page showing, between other information, which URL hides behind it, e.g. http://bit.ly/cTGasX+ [bit.ly] . I don't know if they have a setting to always display this info page, but I'm sure there are usersrcipts and bookmarklets out there that automatically append a "+" to every bit.ly link.

Re:It's a shame too... (1)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679310)

You can also stick preview. as the subdomain in a TinyURL to force the preview to show.

Re:It's a shame too... (1)

tibman (623933) | more than 3 years ago | (#33678954)

I'm the same way. If i must click a shortened link, it's with a throwaway sandbox'd firefox.

Re:It's a shame too... (1)

kent_eh (543303) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679172)

Especially if you are using your work computer.

In other news, I now know how many times you have to trigger the content filters before you get a visit...

Re:It's a shame too... (5, Funny)

mpicker0 (411333) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679252)

I prefer to use "lengthened" URLs: http://hugeurl.com/ [hugeurl.com] .

You mean like this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33678880)

You mean like this? [tinyurl.com]

Re:You mean like this? (1)

DanTheStone (1212500) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679158)

(Redirects to this page.)

Techie price greater than luser price (5, Insightful)

apoc.famine (621563) | more than 3 years ago | (#33678892)

For those of us who use things like NoScript, the price can be that we don't get there. Ever.

I know that when I go to a site that can't work unless I allow a half dozen or more other sites to run scripts, I sometimes decide that it's not worth my time. When I click a link that then has to contact several domains, (sometimes ones I have specifically blocked) I might stop right there and close the tab.

The web isn't just headed towards redirect hell - it's turning into a damn sketchy web of tentacles working their way into every page. When I find ones that I'm not comfortable having around, I don't go back.

I'm not sure I like what the web has become. Thanks to NoScript, I at least know what it's become.

Re:Techie price greater than luser price (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33678986)

Same here, it is amazing how many websites have scripts running from websites that I have absolutely no business with.

Re:Techie price greater than luser price (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33679040)

[I]t's turning into a damn sketchy web of tentacles working their way into every page.

Aren't some people into that sort of thing?

Re:Techie price greater than luser price (1)

koterica (981373) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679066)

As with so many other things, the situation is worse because most people don't know / don't care /are willing to put up with it. I am guilty myself. The problem is that the people making design decisions are not the people most effected by the decisions and the people effected don't understand the decisions being made.

Re:Techie price greater than luser price (3, Interesting)

Spazntwich (208070) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679096)

I've noticed this as well, and just consider it the price I have to pay to avoid losing my nerd credentials along with my tiny bank balance.

But it is becoming more prevalent, and I'm not sure what the solution is. Part of me worries this is one of the setup steps in someone's grand scheme to make the internet "dangerous" enough that the "only solution" is to grant absolute internet authority to agency x. You know. To protect the children from all the sexual predators hiding kiddie porn in bit.ly links.

Re:Techie price greater than luser price (2, Interesting)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679144)

My university seems to have come up with a plan to advertise themselves to staff and students who already work/study here: provide no direct link to the university e-mail. They want you to go to the front page, to see the latest news you're not interested in and ways to make donations to the university (hint hint), then login, and you'll be taken to more irrelevant news, links for course tools, and another link for e-mail, which will redirect you one or two times before getting to a google mail system.

I have it automatically forward everything to a normal gmail account that is easier to access anyway, so it doesn't matter except for those few times when I need to access it directly. I usually make a mental note to spend 5 minutes finding out a more direct way and memorizing it, but then never get around to it.

Re:Techie price greater than luser price (1)

Bazman (4849) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679182)

JavaScript has nothing to do with these things, surely. The server sends back a HTTP Redirect or Moved message, and your standards-compliant browser is supposed to go, "Kthx, I'll check there". It was part of the web's protocol from near enough day zero. NoScript won't stop you following them unless the redirect systems are abusing JavaScript for this. Are they? Oh dear god no.

Said the Rich Executive: (2, Funny)

Even on Slashdot FOE (1870208) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679258)

Oh dear God yes! We can abuse JavaScript more to get more clicks!

Re:Techie price greater than luser price (1)

floodo1 (246910) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679268)

Indeed, NoScript is a constant reminder of how much a) ad related b) tracking related c) who knows what related (obscure domains) javascript out on the web. I've been on sites that had 10 external domains trying to run javascript. The sad part is that on the vast majority of sites that have external javascript, I can leave that javascript disabled with no detriment. Typically, enabling javascript for the domain of the site I'm visiting, and maybe a CDN domain makes everything work (menus, videos automatically, what have you).

Ad to this redirects which you can't do anything about? Talk about hell! At least you can block ads and control javascript (to a large degree, including running your own (GreaseMonkey, etc)), but you can't un-redirect a link. Sure you could use javascript to try and resolve all the links on a page, but all you gain is having your browser do it in the background instead of pre-click. But that's a helluva kludge.

Down with tracking. Fuck you if you want to spend your time watching me. The horror of the digital revolution is that now you don't have to have an actual person to spy on people :( Which is exactly why it's very much different for a police officer to stand on a corner watching out for crime and having a camera mounted there recording all the time. But I digress.

All we can do is voice our opinion against this trash practice, and try to avoid it as much as possible.......so FUCK YOU TWITTER, stop acting for your own interests and respect mine!

Re:Techie price greater than luser price (1)

CCarrot (1562079) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679292)

Hear hear!

Unfortunately, the vast majority of web users don't give a rat's arse if half a dozen leech scripts are hooking into their site, as long as it loads 'fast' and looks 'cool'.

I am a strict NoScript user as well, and I tell you, it is always a struggle when friends (or even my tech-savvy spouse!) want to use one of my machines to check something out. It seems like *every* time I have to show them how to allow (temporary) access to the leech scripts, and help them identify which ones probably aren't needed to load that flash vid of the cute kitties they want to watch...

I did have one ray of sunshine last week, however, when one person using my computer and picking off the scripts with me said "jeez, I didn't realize how much crap is on that site. Maybe I should install this NoScript too?"

Hallelujah!

Re:Techie price greater than luser price (1)

Dr Herbert West (1357769) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679396)

The external script thing is a real bummer-- there's a lot of news sites out there that won't display properly (or at all) because they load all kinds of tracking data/cookies/plugins from other sites that I have adblocked. Or they're coded poorly, and unable to function at all. Facebook is a major culprit-- I've been seeing a lot of little "share this article if you're a facebook douchebag" mini-flash apps embedded in websites (in a frameset, no less). The crazy thing is if the app can't pull the data it wants, the ENTIRE PAGE won't load until the app gets what it needs.

I now have a wildcard block for everything facebook. Some sites I used to visit regularly are now unusable. Oh well-- I'm sure their marketing team has no problem with losing views so they can track whatever views they still have left.

Re:Techie price greater than luser price (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679440)

The web is becoming a series of interdependent systems that all interact with each other. You may have one company that serves your ads, another that helps you understand your users better, another that serves extra content, etc. All of these services "tentacle" together to create a modern mature web experience.

That's the nature of things once a system matures. Middleware providers, essentially, move in. They start providing portions of service to web pages from 3rd party servers. This can be as simple as a 3rd party e-mail provider showing the number of unread messages on your college homepage, or as nefarious as those evil TrAcKiNg cOoKiEs. Even the worst ones mostly just want to know if you're interested in cars, in case you'd like to buy a car.

Work around (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33678900)

I've actually begun to just highlight the URL, right click and pick "go to www.pornpornporn.com"... for example.

Because google's redirect is pretty laggy at times.

Re:Work around (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33678944)

I find Google's redirect somewhat annoying because these days it's added via JavaScript click event. Up until you click it, it appears to go to a non-redirected location.

Re:Work around (1)

mazarin5 (309432) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679020)

I am constantly irritated when I copy a link, only to paste a wall of text in my little IM window.

Re:Work around (1)

rs79 (71822) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679298)

Where are you seeing this? I just looked the the html source for the results of a google search and the target url is the target hfre with no google middleman. Am I missing something?

Re:Work around (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679338)

That you even have to highlight the url shows a lack of imagination on the part of my fellow programmers.

It should be auto-parsed so you just hover and right-click, go to url.

www.linuxtoday.com is the champion (3, Interesting)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 3 years ago | (#33678904)

Folks at linuxtoday.com have been doing this for a long time. It's one reason I fled the site. Instead of taking me to where I wanna go directly, they make me click twice on the same site. This I believe, enables them to collect 'vital information' to present to their advertisers.

The bad thing is that they lost me and many others in the process.

By the way, it's intentional for me not to link to them from Slashdot directly.

Re:www.linuxtoday.com is the champion (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33679366)

By the way, it's intentional for me not to link to them from Slashdot directly.

You mean you don't want to link to http://www.linuxtoday.com [linuxtoday.com] ?

To be honest the web was getting a bit fast... (5, Funny)

youn (1516637) | more than 3 years ago | (#33678908)

... so they had to find yet another way to slow things down... so the web could live up to its reputation of "world wide wait" ;)

More ads, again... (2, Insightful)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 3 years ago | (#33678920)

[Wait 30 seconds or click here to skip to comment]

User Experience (1)

Yhippa (443967) | more than 3 years ago | (#33678946)

Speaking of redirects how about websites waiting to load content on Doubleclick analytics? Not only do the ads you're serving not load up but I tend to give up on visiting the page altogether. Everybody loses.

Re:User Experience (1)

jack2000 (1178961) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679478)

Ad-block or hosts file or iptables, pick your weapons.

optimize google (4, Informative)

emkyooess (1551693) | more than 3 years ago | (#33678966)

The Optimize Google add-in for Firefox gets rid of some of their hellish redirects. Sadly, it doesn't update frequently and seems prone to breaking.

My Idea (5, Funny)

wbav (223901) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679010)

I want to create a redirect loop. Just imagine, google to tinyurl to bit.ly to dilv.it back to google.

Or you could always just make a really long way to get to someone who'll never give you up, never let you down.

Re:My Idea (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679186)

Nice. Firefox would catch the redirect loop though, as would most modern browsers.

Re:My Idea (3, Interesting)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679302)

Done.

http://tinyurl.com/25lsp67 [tinyurl.com]
http://3.ly/2e5g64f [3.ly]

bit.ly adds its own little blab page if it detects multiple redirects, which is entertaining in its own way I guess... never-ending loop:

http://bit.ly/9bV4Re [bit.ly]

The preview feature is fun too...

http://3.ly/RwuW [3.ly]
http://tinyurl.com/k2w9uiz [tinyurl.com]

There are good and bad ways. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33679016)

Google, for example, generate a direct link to the site, while JS on the page quietly tries to report the click to Google before the new page has loaded. Sometimes it succeeds, sometimes not, but it's worth the data loss to avoid hampering the user.

It's money, not knowledge (2, Informative)

Morth (322218) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679022)

If someone is paying me for the clicks I send to their site, I need to count it so that I know how much I should charge, and they need to count it as well to know I'm not lying. They could make the count on the destination page, but usually it's far more easy to make a special service for it.

A redirect page is usually just a couple of hundred bytes large. Cookies might add some clutter, but probably still less than 1k in each direction, still fits in a single packet. I don't see the problem here.

Sampling can be good (2, Insightful)

amplusquem (995096) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679036)

Google and Facebook both use these "intermediate steps" to weed out malware infested sites and warn the user. Sampling can also be useful in judging if something is NSFW, or more importantly, rickrolling prevention.

Re:Sampling can be good (1)

spazdor (902907) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679212)

Google and Facebook could just as easily filter malware out of the hyperlinks before they present them to you in the first place. I know Facebook in particular doesn't even let you post such links to your wall in the first place, let alone allow anyone to click them.

somes it's neccesary (0)

Itninja (937614) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679038)

I obviously cannot speak to all situations. But for my organization this is kind of required simply for ease of maintenance (on our end) and ease of use (on the client end).

When a user logs into one of our sites, they must select a database to connect to. The actual URLs are something like: "https://www2.businessdomain.net/scripts/cgiip.exe/WService=wcustomers71/seplog01.w". Each URL is slightly different to allow for different connections. There are hundreds of possible connections. The user then has two choices: memorize that beast URL, or save it as a bookmark. The latter seem to make sense.

But that's where the ease of maintenance comes into play. If a server or database goes down, we steer the traffic to a temp server. When we do, the landing URL changes to reflect the new locations, broker name, and database string. Typically we would have to broadcast the new, temporary URL to the customers' employees (and then broadcast another one when it was available again). So bookmarking the landing URL is not really a good idea for the customers as sometime it will go no where (or worse go to a failing database).

Hence, we have a shorter URL (unique to each customer) redirect to whatever landing URL they should be connected to. It's easy to remember and easy to maintain. Something like: "yourconnection.businessdomain.net".

Re:somes it's neccesary (1)

Asmor (775910) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679170)

That sound you hear is the point, zooming at mach 5 over your head.

Re:somes it's neccesary (1)

spazdor (902907) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679254)

That's not the kind of URL hiding the OP is talking about. If you did this to URLs pointing to external sites, ones not controlled by you or your company, *then* you'd be contributing to redirect hell.

Feature or bug? (1)

Etcetera (14711) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679062)

This used to be considered something that was potentially a Good Thing. To help prevent link rot and redesigns from breaking links, people thinking a lot about Hypertext came up with initiatives like PURL's: http://purl.oclc.org/docs/ [oclc.org]

Now that the primary usage of these redirects are simply to shorten links to something more convenient, we're using the same tech (a 301) and using it in different ways. One question is, how many people use the "custom link name" feature of tinyurl.com vs, simply let a random string of text be used? And, will a service start letting us update link destinations after the fact (like the original purl site did)? If so, how do you prevent nefarious uses of this (like moving it to goatse after it's memeing about)?

In terms of the filtration-for-tracking-purposes? That horse has left the barn already; I'm more concerned with final destinations not being recorded over time for posterity. These redirect services are totally interchangable anyway... as soon as one starts using interstitals, people will move to another one.

Why it has to be so technically impractical? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33679078)

Less fragile and less of an unnecessary intermediary on this Web 2.0 (or whatever) age would be to catch the click of a link with onclick, set a cookie, and open the original, intended link. When user would again come back to the site, this cookie would be dumped to the site that so much wanted the information it was clicked. Even if the user would have some sort of embedded resource from this site open somewhere else, it could harvest the information and send it back.

Instead, we seem to be ending up with endless chains of redirectors and opaque identifiers that are bound to organizations that don't necessarily exist in a year. What a joy to use technology which is driven by needs of utter morons and greed of those interested to press most information out of the morons...

advertising funds nothing serious (4, Insightful)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679086)

and there is no useful (i.e. non-light-entertainment) content created primarily through advertising revenue. Slashdot developers who have made their money over the last decade producing tat by not overestimating the intelligence of the general public cannot bear to admit this, but you simply cannot produce high-calibre content when your primary aim is to suck in as many as possible of the kind of people who take notice of adverts.

Murdoch, often maligned for his lack of business sense but mysteriously still richer than all of us, seems to have tried and failed at pushing the subscription model. Obviously there are other viable models for producing information on the web such as government sponsorship (BBC, academia) and well organised groups of hobbyists (e.g. ham radio), but how will the sites who do not already have a dedicated subscription base through off-line heritage sustain themselves? Or maybe the answer is that they will not, the moment they take their eye off the advertiser as customer and start worrying directly about satisfying the desire for the reader to intellectually advance himself.

Tracking (1)

iONiUM (530420) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679094)

Not only do you not know where you're going to end up, but also the service can track your behaviour. Obviously this latter reason is why all the companies want to do it.

So, how do you get around it? I don't even think we can. I think we're screwed, to be honest. It's just going to be like that, perhaps until the day an exploit comes out and re-targets all of a services re-directs (i.e. tinyurl) to some hostile domain. Then, and perhaps only then, would it get enough attention to bring it to the "mainstream" users that it might be a bad idea.

Not.. that I'm suggesting anything... 4chan.

It hasn't bothered me so far. (1)

maillemaker (924053) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679110)

I didn't even know this was occurring. Guess it hasn't bothered me so far.

Facebook (5, Informative)

Xacid (560407) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679138)

To play the devil's advocate - facebook's redirects started as a way to filter out all the spam links.

The AJAX Solution (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679164)

As I commented on TFA:

So we have jQuery, and we have AJAX. Why don’t they just attach an onClick to their links that sends a quick POST to Google before sending the user on their way, directly to the site in question? It won’t work for people without Javascript on, but that’s such a small percentage that I doubt it matters to them much. The important thing is that they could get their statistics, while still avoiding a redirect. The service providers could argue that they need the tracking even if Javascript is off, but that just seems extreme.

Can someone tell me if there are any issues I'm not seeing with this approach?

Re:The AJAX Solution (1)

Osso (840513) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679206)

Tracking visitors with no or disabled javascript is one of the reasons.

Redirect Remover for Firefox (1, Informative)

michaelepley (239861) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679188)

huh? what? web sites are redirecting?

(ok, RDR is not that good, but it helps, and I'm sure as this becomes even more prevalent, people will work around it)

Browsers! (0, Redundant)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679204)

Redirects are a problem only because browser makers let it be a problem. If you hit "back" and it goes to a 302 page, it should go back again, until it gets somewhere without a 302.

Plus the Mouseover Script (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33679218)

As if that's not bad enough, then they script the mouseover event to display the direct URL on the browser status bar, obviously to hide that they're tracking you.

Google started doing this some time ago. It's annoying. I cut and paste the actual URL because I don't feel like Google needs to know what sites I'm visiting.

There's a Mozilla plugin to circumvent this but I don't remember the name of it.

Re:Plus the Mouseover Script (1)

vakuona (788200) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679442)

That defeats the purpose of search engines. If you don't click on the links, how does google know it is finding the right pages for you?

Redirects don't get you link love (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679250)

On the other side of this are the search engines. They may not follow the chain of links, especially if it involves "cookies". So a reference that uses a redirection service may not be credited as an inbound link for ranking purposes.

Then there's the firewall/proxy issue. Firewalls need to see where you're really going, so they have to run down the link chain. This may result in bogus hits on the end site, if both the firewall and the browser separately do this.

Minor issue, not Hell (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679264)

Redirects are a minor inconvenience on the net. Much more insidious is the enormous number of sites that have to be accessed to get all the content on many webpages. Add to that the layers and layers of CSS needed to render them. And the massive, often buggy stack of scripts they bring. Not to mention the server-side scripting that slows down fetching the pages and embedded content and CSS pages and scripts before you get them.

It'd be interesting to see the average number of bytes transacted to render one byte of information to the screen. And the average loading time of a page.

Check this out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33679272)

http://tinyurl.com/8t5 [tinyurl.com]

This page has lot of information on our article

wasn't there a time.... (3, Interesting)

bickerdyke (670000) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679326)

when it was considered a security hole if you DIDN'T use a redirect on your page? IIRC there used to be an attack vector where malicous sites used links from freemail pages to steel session IDs from the referer-headers.

Infinite loop (2, Funny)

ron-l-j (1725874) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679376)

I think we could just write a Java program that will loop through a range of your top 10 urls every minute. Then you would never have to click. Call it autoBrowser. Because no one should actually click on things.

mailing lists (1)

pinkishpunk (1461107) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679402)

those tinyurl makes archives mailing lists hell also, have anyone seen or code a tool automatic lookup the real url and replace the tinyurl for archival purposes ?

...Redirect hell? (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679404)

Accused by a site that is dependent on scripts coming from other domains.

HTML 5? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33679424)

Doesn't HTML 5 have a feature that makes this no longer necessary?

A post-back of sorts, wherein (for example) Google uses a direct link to the search result. The link contains a property that says "Let Google know you just clicked this link".

"Redirect hell" is a hacky workaround to do exactly what this HTML 5 feature is intended for.

It has the added benefit of letting you turn off this behavior in the browser. But for precisely this reason, I can imagine the big boys who rely on this data (Google, Facebook, etc) continuing to use the old redirect methods.

Twitter Redirect ... (1)

ub3r n3u7r4l1st (1388939) | more than 3 years ago | (#33679462)

links you to Jap Porn.

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