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Short URLs lose more than extra characters

You know those URL shortening services like bit.ly? They're convenient, but there's a downside. Like a lot of Web users, I look at the URL to get a clue of what the link is about and whether the host is a site I want to visit or avoid. If someone uses a link like bit.ly/123abc or is.gd/zYxWv, you have no idea where you're going to end up, unless the poster gives some context explaining things. That context is lacking more often than not. All you'll get is "This is a cool thing!" and a truncated URL. Maybe I'm supposed to think "So-and-so would never steer me wrong, let's click!" but it's not even just that. Sometimes I want to know if I'm going to get a YouTube video, because sometimes I don't want one.

It's understandable on Twitter, though still a concern to me. But people copy that URL to use elsewhere — which is understandable, because that's why the short URL services were created, really. Yet there's still no context, no way to know where the link is going, just a implication of "Trust me!" After all the viruses and worms and incessant advertising I just can't blindly click, even if I know the person, without a little bit of trepidation.

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( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
animist
Feb. 19th, 2010 10:53 am (UTC)
I use tiny URL on places that limit text length, or in situations where the long URL will get truncated (such as email a map from Google). But yeah, I am leary of clicking on a tiny URL unless i know who created it.
songdogmi
Feb. 19th, 2010 04:18 pm (UTC)
Yeah, map links from Google are huge, and so are a lot of Amazon.com links. I just wish that a poster would say "Here's a Google map: http://tinyurl.com/1jkuwb" (or whatever). I know that's not always possible on Twitter, but in LJ and Facebook it is.
hellmutt
Feb. 19th, 2010 02:47 pm (UTC)
I think you need this special URL-lengthening service, m'dear.
songdogmi
Feb. 19th, 2010 04:15 pm (UTC)
Whatever you do, don't click on http://5z8.info/banned-in-the-US_m1q5h_mydick *giggle*
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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