Long URL’s are a PITA! Imagine sharing a URL that has a few ampersands [&], few equal tos [=], few question marks [?] and a whole lot of slashes [/] over the email or over IM. Tedious, isn’t it? Agreed, a simple copy-paste would do the job but won’t it look messy? It would look gaudy if the url is really long and is broken into two lines, in emails and even on webpages. Again, we can use hyperlinked text in emails and on webpages but with other services like IMs and Twitter, where there is a character limit for messages, long URLs are a bane.
Enter a plethora of URL Shortening sites….websites wherein you submit the long URL and it returns a smaller, compact URL. Of course, clicking on the new one will lead to the original one 😛 The oldest one such site that I can remember is Snipurl (which nowadays has three mirrors) which used to appear frequently in Digit Magazine’s articles. TinyURL is another popular one, if not the popular one [Wikipedia entry]. Another one that I’ve started using recently is Is.gd which might arguably be the shortest URL for a URL shortening site
Some of the URL shortening sites that I’ve come across/used include:
and I think there are many other such sites. [Update: In fact, Mashable chronicles 90+ such URL shorteners over here] And these have their own pros and cons. For example, with TinyURL, you can show the original URL to the clickers before they actually go there so that they aren’t scammed into clicking and going someplace they don’t want to! On Snipurl, one can login and manage their url’s. And many of them have the provision of adding a custom nick to the url i.e. instead of a randomly generated http://snipurl/3qua4, I can create a nick like http://snipurl/ycblog 🙂
Cons include the ubiquitous security issues. Such url’s are opaque i.e. the clicker won’t have any inkling of where the url leads to. This is to an extent remediated by the preview feature available with most sites. Another drawback is spamming. Say spam url’s with known words are blocked by an email agent or a firewall. Using these shortened url’s, they can bypass these filtering methods. Some sites allow email id’s to be shortened/masked; in case the site isn’t as trustworthy as it seemed to be, we’d regret submitting our email id to it!
All of these sites have disclaimers and privacy policies. I urge you to go through them once before starting to use their services. Better to be safe than sorry! Don’t say I didn’t warn you. And just in case you need to share this post with your friends, the URL is http://is.gd/2IzC 😎