General Question

richardhenry's avatar

What URL shortening service do you use?

Asked by richardhenry (12692points) March 10th, 2009

TinyURL? Fill me in.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

37 Answers

MrItty's avatar, because I’m an old fogey and it was the first one. saving 4 characters of typing isn’t worth breaking my muscle memory to go to or one of the others.

BonusQuestion's avatar

Good point MrItty. I guess my reason for using tinyurl is the same. I’ve been using it for a long time and it is easy to remember.

Mr_M's avatar

What does a URL shortening service do? (Please don’t tell me, “They shorten URLS”).

KrystaElyse's avatar

@Mr_M – Shortens long URLs….

Mr_M's avatar

Oh, THAT explains it (pfft!).

KrystaElyse's avatar

It does exactly what it says. It makes long URLs short and easy to remember.

Mr_M's avatar

Can you give me a real example of why I might need one?

KrystaElyse's avatar

For example… If you wanted to link something on Facebook or Twitter, you’re only given a certain amount of characters to use, so you can use a URL shortening service to make the long web address shorter. Also, you can use it if you want to take a long URL and give it a custom name so that it’s easier to remember.

Mr_M's avatar

Cool. Thanks!

robmandu's avatar

The utility will give you short urls like this: http://➡.ws/〉銵

Pro: absolute shortest url possible.

Pro/Con: url-preview so your recipients never hafta to be rickroll’d again.

Con: unicode character support can be spotty across platforms, apps, etc.

MrItty's avatar

@Mr_M , here is a TinyURL for this specific thread on Fluther:

Heck of a lot easier to retype or send to someone than the entire long url:

Mr_M's avatar

But I would copy and paste, and the person at the other end would copy and paste, no?

robmandu's avatar


Pro: like some others, you can specify the short url you want

Pro: built-in tracking and stats… so you can see how many people actually followed your link.

MrItty's avatar

yes, that works too 95% of the time (not every format is subject to copy & paste). I didn’t say it’s something I use frequently. It’s something I use once in a while, when I don’t want to paste a 5-line-long paragraph of a single URL.

Mr_M's avatar

Interesting. In all my years of working with computers, so far I never had to shorten a url. But I’m sure I will now.

robmandu's avatar

@Mr_M, I use from time to time on Fluther… mainly because the parsing algorithms employed by Fluther’s textile markup are kinda hit-or-miss when dealing with some unusual characters (e.g. a url containing parentheses won’t link correctly). So, it’s useful for compatibility purposes.

Also, in today’s age of 140 character limits on services like Twitter,, whatever or for succinct status updates like Facebook, LinkedIn, Brightkite, whatever, having a short & sweet url just looks cleaner.

drClaw's avatar is the best. In my opinion.

richardhenry's avatar

It’s mostly useful for Twitter, where a Fluther URL would gobble up three quarters of what you’re allowed to say.

Mr_M's avatar

Conceptually, how do these services work? It CAN’T be that they copy the file to THEIR database with the shortened url and link it to the longer name? Or do they, somehow, officially change the name of the url? How does it work?

richardhenry's avatar

@Mr_M Their database probably looks a little like this:

alias | url

And the entries look like this:

x89ak |

Then when someone visits:

We redirect them immediately to the url entry for that record. We don’t need to know what’s at the page, we just tell the browser to go to another URL.

MrItty's avatar

@Mr_M, They don’t copy the file at all. They create a link on their own server that does nothing but instantly redirects you to the page you were looking for. If I click on the tinyurl link I created above, my browser will first go to, and it will receive from them nothing but a message that effectively says “go here instead”, and the browser will then go to that page.

Mr_M's avatar

Got it. The shortened url always links one to THEIR server and at THEIR server you are redirected to the real file wherever it is, automatically.

richardhenry's avatar

@Mr_M That’s it. :)

Mr_M's avatar

Brilliant idea! i wish I had come up with it! :)

Sakata's avatar

Doubt I’ll ever use something like that service provides. I enjoy, and am addicted to, checking a link in the status bar before clicking it.

My way works great for Fluther since the URL is most of, if not all, the question.

Lupin's avatar

Maybe I am paranoid but I like to see the URL or at least the domain name. You never know where you will end up when you click a tinyurl or whatever. And most spybot filtering software does not recognize it either. Be careful. It’s not worth it in my book.

MrItty's avatar

@Lupin and @Sakata – with tinyurl at least, you can set TinyURL to let you preview the real URL before you go there: Doesn’t matter who creates it or when. As long as you’ve visited this preview enabling page, all TinyURLs will be previewed.

Sakata's avatar

Damn. Foiled again lol

Lupin's avatar

I went to the link suggested by Mrltty above and as promised it set the preference to preview the URL before you head off into the woods. With preview turned on you’ll leave a trail of bread crumbs in your history record if you don’t come back intact – unless the bad guys erase your history file or the crows eat your bread…

richardhenry's avatar

Thanks guys! I also got a couple replies to this tweet I sent out on Twitter, so I thought I’d list them here:

glennw@richardhenry tinyurl and mainly
3:30 PM Mar 10th from TwitterFox in reply to richardhenry

3:30 PM Mar 10th from TweetDeck in reply to richardhenry

Meezyy@richardhenry but our blog tweets with tinyurl
3:31 PM Mar 10th from TweetDeck in reply to richardhenry

jamessocol@richardhenry and
3:31 PM Mar 10th from twhirl in reply to richardhenry

daveknapik@richardhenry tinyurl and if it’s down, For a former employer I hate, I used icanhaz:
3:31 PM Mar 10th from TweetDeck in reply to richardhenry

blahpro@richardhenry and
3:32 PM Mar 10th from EventBox in reply to richardhenry

patrickhamann@richardhenry – because you post post straight to twitter, or – because is sounds nice :)
3:33 PM Mar 10th from web in reply to richardhenry

britneyfrancis@richardhenry tinyurl
3:33 PM Mar 10th from TwitterBerry

3:34 PM Mar 10th from Netvibes

sirjoebob@richardhenry I use it is the default in tweetdeck and works great
3:36 PM Mar 10th from TweetDeck in reply to richardhenry

jonthegeologist@richardhenry, but only because it’s the tweetdeck default
3:37 PM Mar 10th from TweetDeck in reply to richardhenry

3:38 PM Mar 10th from web in reply to richardhenry

technicalfault@richardhenry I used
3:39 PM Mar 10th from TwitterFox in reply to richardhenry

Nicholas698@richardhenry TinyURL.
3:39 PM Mar 10th from web in reply to richardhenry

repressd@richardhenry usually tinyurl. If that doesn’t work I use
3:40 PM Mar 10th from web in reply to richardhenry

petercrosby@richardhenry twurl everytime
3:43 PM Mar 10th from TwitterBerry

robmandu@richardhenry, for real. is interesting in concept, though.
3:54 PM Mar 10th from web

3:56 PM Mar 10th from EventBox in reply to richardhenry

jelybu@richardhenry i use
4:07 PM Mar 10th from web in reply to richardhenry

about 24 hours ago from web in reply to richardhenry

joped@richardhenry linkped :P (Of course, shameless plug for my own… presently, its very different then most, lots of cool stuff of the way)
about 23 hours ago from twitterrific

Basically, I’m trying to decide which URL shortening services a Twitter-based application my company is working on should support. So far, the list is:

So thanks for your help, and let me know if you have any suggestions.

robmandu's avatar

Well, if it’s any help and not too-burdensome a requirement, I’d suggest ensuring you fully support unicode characters in any case. They’re legitimate for use in urls and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them coming more into use (especially kanji-based chars).

richardhenry's avatar

@robmandu Heh, we were actually just discussing that. We’ve decided that we’re also going to support all of the domains. Python supports full unicode sets in URLs by default, so we figured we should do.

This isn’t actually for allowing people to make long URLs short, or for expanding them. We’re doing something much more interesting. :) I wish I was allowed to say. I’ll send you an invite code when we launch in a few weeks.

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