Thursday, August 13, 2009

Screw TinyURL

One of those sites that shorten unwieldy URLs recently shut down. Tr.im announced that it was closing up shop and now any URL using their system in the past will cease to work as soon as they power down the last server. Honestly, I can't say that I care. I think all of these URL shortening sites are pointless at best and dangerous at worst. The faster this fad disappears, the better off we all will be.

Now, I can understand having a nice shortened URL for distributing web addresses in a print format, but, seriously, how often do you have to type those things out and hit print or hand-write the URL to give to someone? Usually, it's just a digital copy and paste job, and even then, with a little competence, you just make a hyperlink instead. Besides, good web designers should try to keep their URLs simple for any page knowing that the more difficult it is to communicate the address, the less likely that visitors will share that address. If their work isn't being passed around because they're lazy with their site organization, that's their problem.

I understand that with e-mails, especially people using programs that don't handle HTML e-mails, text wrapping can make dealing with those longer URLs difficult, but this is really a rather minor problem in my opinion. I see these shortened, anonymous addresses a lot on Facebook, but there these short URLs are pointless. You create a link in your post that no matter how long it is, it only requires a click for the user to be taken to the correct location.

The big problem with sites like TinyURL is that they disguise the location of the link. When I see TinyURL or bit.ly links, I usually won't click them because I have no idea where you're trying to take me. If I trust you not to be a digital idiot or out to get me, I may just take you at your word. If I don't know you as well, I'm not touching that link with your cursor, much less my own. You could be taking me to a site laced with trojan horses or a porn site that when accessed from my work computer could get me fired. There is a lot of information a savvy user can glean from a full URL to help them determine whether or not going there is a risky endeavor. I don't want you taking that away from me.

Plus, how dumb do you have to be to go to a second website to post a URL from the first website on the third website? It's just extra work. I'd rather use those seconds for staring at the wall, myself.

3 comments:

A Free Man said...

I sometimes think I'm internet savvy. And then I read a post like this and realize that I am absolutely clueless.

Sid said...

Had no idea there were URL shortening sites out there. You raise very interesting points.

Courtney said...

The shortened URL thing is entirely pointless, and it makes no difference to me if it's shut down.

I like staring at the wall too. I think I'll do that right now.