Wednesday, November 10, 2010

shortened URLs = sadface

So on Twitter, I can understand URL shorteners. People pretend to like the 140-character limit, but are somehow totally willing to circumvent it when they really need to. I get that. URL shorteners are completely valid (if still annoying) in that context.

What I cannot for the life of me understand is why somebody would use shortened URLs in a blog. I was reading a post the other day (seem to have lost the link) which used shortened URLs exclusively. If you control the markup (as you do on a blog post) then there is literally no possible reason to use short URLs, ever, unless you are trying to annoy your readers for some reason. Remember how, five years ago, everybody knew to make your URLs as expressive as possible for SEO purposes? And how it ended up being really convenient, because a user could hover over a link, see the URL, and have a sense of what you were linking to? All that's out the window now, thanks to fucking Twitter! :D

I'm not even going to get into the fact that shortened URLs are a horrible idea technically, and occasionally place you at the mercy of the Libyan government. Everybody knows that they're terrible. Twitter is the only reason that we tolerate their proliferation.

(side rant here about how 140 characters is far too short. I am feeling lazy tonight so please imagine an appropriate rant. >_>)

Actually, short URLs are one thing that Identica gets completely right. When it detects a shortened URL, it sets the
attribute on the link to the real URL, so that you can see where the link goes by hovering over it. It is impossible to appreciate how useful that is, until you use another mblogging site like Twitter and become sad because you actually have to click the stupid links to see where they go, and then write a disjointed blog post on the topic.


Kiriska said...

People use shortened URLs on blogs/other places because it's a simple way of tracking clicks/other stats on the URL, since most URL shorteners provide that now. There are other ways of tracking the links, sure, but that's convenient, especially if they already generated the link for Twitter, etc.

My third-party Twitter client also displays real URLs on hover... as long as it's from So I basically only click on links and links since Google duds out "bad" links sent through its shortener anyway.

Asian languages have such an advantage on Twitter. 140 characters gets a lot more there. :C

Kiriska said...

Also, didn't you have a Twitter rant last year? I seem to remember one. XD

P. Static said...

Not only that, I had a URL shortener rant last year during NaBloPoMo. Well, hell. XD