We want 'em shorter.
July 10, 2001 10:29 AM   Subscribe

We want 'em shorter. Frustrated with links that are too long to 'cut 'n' paste 'n' click'? Makeashorterlink.com makes 'em shorter. Nifty! [ via, and because of the Gorjuss mailing list ]
posted by prolific (34 comments total)
shore up that link
posted by clavdivs at 10:32 AM on July 10, 2001

Am I doing something wrong, prolific? When I clicked the link you provided, I got railroaded to a page without an obvious reference to shortening links.
posted by msacheson at 10:34 AM on July 10, 2001

Great idea. I think makeashorterlinkbecausereallylonglinkstotallysuck.com would have made a better domain, though.
posted by waxpancake at 10:34 AM on July 10, 2001

Oh shit, this is so simple, yet so brilliant.

Basically, they're just adding fields to a db.

So I submitted this URL:


which became this:


It appears that they've got a very simple db table, with an ID and a URL, when you submit a long URL, they give you an URL with the ID encrypted into the address, and when you go to it, it redirects to the URL in the db.

Simple, yet brilliant.
posted by mathowie at 10:45 AM on July 10, 2001

I love it.

Imagine the advertising possibilities!

posted by hijinx at 10:48 AM on July 10, 2001

Um. Is it really that hard to cut and paste links?
posted by ParisParamus at 10:54 AM on July 10, 2001

smart smart smart.

Is it really that hard to cut and paste links?

I can't tell you how many times Outlook has truncated a link that i've sent to someone in my office, making it unclickable. I often send out emails to the entire 500-person company. If only 5% of them don't know how to fix it (cut and paste the unlinked portion at the end of the url into the address bar), i get 25 emails complaining that *i'm* the moron who "got the address wrong".

This thing rocks.
posted by jpoulos at 11:00 AM on July 10, 2001

I've already suggested a better (and shorter) domain name (that's still available, good heavens above) to Giles, and if he doesn't register it, I'll do it myself and transfer it across to him. Such a great idea.
posted by holgate at 11:11 AM on July 10, 2001

seems interesting... what are some practical uses for this?
posted by lotsofno at 11:11 AM on July 10, 2001

What am I doing wrong? I still can't see the site! I either get zip or the same result as msacheson.
posted by jennak at 11:16 AM on July 10, 2001

It's brand new, jennak, perhaps the domain hasn't propagated fully, or whatever it's called, yet.
posted by prolific at 11:19 AM on July 10, 2001

All of the links on Yahoo's main page to pages in the Yahoo hierarchy are short links that redirect to longer ones. For example http://www.yahoo.com/r/qt actually gets you to http://dir.yahoo.com/Reference/Quotations/. I presume they did this to minimise their load time by making their main page smaller. It's been like this for quite a while.

Unfortunately they now have some really long links on the main page--the link to Barnes & Noble is filled with a lot of random gunk, and a lot of the URLs in the right-side menu are long too. (So that they can do reference tracking.)

makeashorterlink.com: doesn't sound like a good idea. What happens if they go out of business? How do you figure out where your link originally went? What happens if their site goes down? Wait, sorry, it's down for me right now.
posted by mstillwell at 11:20 AM on July 10, 2001

Everytime I enter a URL, it responds "invalid." I feel stupid. : (
posted by ParisParamus at 11:21 AM on July 10, 2001

I can't get to it either.
posted by briank at 11:23 AM on July 10, 2001

Shortcut.com? Shortestlink.com? Quicklink.com? Slinky.com? Lesslink.com? Squrl.com? I think of it...just give me 20 minutes...
posted by ParisParamus at 11:24 AM on July 10, 2001

They're a victim of their own message. Try www.makeashorterlink.com vs makeashorterlink.com.

The people complaining are probably getting the same error I am. When I visit the one missing the "www" I get a DNS error. e.g., the shorter link doesn't work!
posted by fleener at 11:26 AM on July 10, 2001

ok. he3re goes. don't make fun of me. I am old guy. I don't know much of this techie talk. But I post lots of stuff to two blogs I have. Often, overly long URLs. This juyst posted sounds like it might be helpful but all I get when I hit link provided is No page available. Is there a page that I can use that would shorten long URLs for me, as suggested by the poster? If so, what do I need to get to it and make it work. Help me. I am not only old but also (1) pay taxes, (2) served in the army--don't ask whose, (3) am married, (4) finished high school, never use Under twev]lve items if I have 13 or more.
posted by Postroad at 11:31 AM on July 10, 2001

Nope --- www.makeashorterlink.com takes me to www.globalgold.co.uk, just like jennak and msacheson
posted by briank at 11:35 AM on July 10, 2001

Postroad: If you're posting to your own blogs, why do you need to shorten the links? The reason Make a Shorter Link exists is because e-mail programs routinely botch links longer than 80 characters, making it impossible to send them in e-mail. Blogs don't have that problem.
posted by rcade at 11:53 AM on July 10, 2001

It's there for me. When I enter http://www.domain.com/home.html I get:

URL already short:
If we made you a shorter link it would be longer so we're not going to bother.

posted by DBAPaul at 11:55 AM on July 10, 2001

Here's some info from Giles, who hasn't got a log in here yet:

"Dear all. There are some teething problems with Make A Shorter Link because the short version of the domain (makeashorterlink.com, as opposed to www.makeashorterlink.com) has not propogated fully just yet. It works fine for some people, but not for others. Give it a few days and it will settle down, I think (I hope!).
Thanks to everyone for the feedback, good and bad. - Giles, Make A Shorter Link bloke."
posted by prolific at 11:56 AM on July 10, 2001

Maybe a version can be developed which lengthens exceptionally short URLs?
posted by ParisParamus at 12:08 PM on July 10, 2001

MrURLShortener.com That's it!
posted by ParisParamus at 12:17 PM on July 10, 2001

"Your URL, 'http://www.cnn.com,' has been converted into 'http://www.makealongerlink.com/index.php?id=13249872378978346x0698&name=9870987013248783467235649673241x8784.' Thank you for using Make a Longer Link!"
posted by zempf at 12:20 PM on July 10, 2001

Zempf: reminds me of the company whose service is to Put Things on Top of Things from Monty Python.
posted by ParisParamus at 12:26 PM on July 10, 2001

Giles apologises, via email, for DNS weirdness...

(And I just registered "TINYLINKS.COM".)
posted by holgate at 1:19 PM on July 10, 2001

Okay, I just want to go on record as being the first to suggest that there's gotta be a dated-but-still-marginally-funny "Weakest Link" joke to be made here, somewhere. I haven't thought of it- yet!- but I will eventually, or someone else will. I guess I'm just trying for the "idea patent" if not the "design patent". :)
posted by hincandenza at 1:39 PM on July 10, 2001

I've been holding off, but since you asked, the joke is "www.youarethelongestlink-goodbye.com".
posted by jpoulos at 2:00 PM on July 10, 2001

If you cannot get to the page, that is because the DNS info has not propagated. No need for everyone to report that they can or can't get to it, OK? Just sit tight, wait a few hours or a day, and try again.

I can see how this might not scale very well. And it isn't really good for archival purposes. (I wouldn't use it in my blog, for instance. There's linkrot aplenty as it is.) I can see it being useful for e-mail and Usenet, where text URLs often get truncated or split between lines -- even if you post them OK, you don't know that the reader's software can handle it.

I guess I can only see using it in that context, side-by-side with the correct URL, for archival/navigation purposes.

I can also see this being used maliciously, unfortunately. Just wait until you get spam that says, "This is grandma. Look at the new pictures of your niece at:"
posted by dhartung at 2:11 PM on July 10, 2001

Jpoulos (and others)

In Outlook, you can enclose any url, even ones with spaces in them (that convert poorly sometimes) using these guys: <>.

This works especially well for including links to file shares with long filenames.

Here's a sample:

<\\server\long share name\some text.txt>

Outlook will resolve this properly.
posted by brokosz at 3:30 PM on July 10, 2001

not all email clients do. I have a friend whose client *breaks* urls enclosed in such brackets. and even when I used outlook, those brackets didn't keep the url from wrapping.
posted by rebeccablood at 3:32 PM on July 10, 2001

I can see how this might not scale very well.

Perhaps not, but the idea's good enough to steal. (script, in practice.)
posted by Shadowkeeper at 3:36 PM on July 10, 2001

Perhaps not, but the idea's good enough to steal.

Indeed. Edgecase has been doing this for almost two years; every page ever linked there can be reached with a URL of the form <http://www.edgecase.org/get-article.php3?id=x> where "x" is a number from 1 through fifteen-hundred-some-odd.

It's not a generic solution, but it accomplishes a similar idea. The front page appends "&base=y" to the URL, where "y" is the original URL, but this is purely for the humans and is simply ignored by the database script.

posted by Mars Saxman at 4:38 PM on July 10, 2001

Anyone with a basic grounding in Perl could code their own version of this in 15 minutes. That's not meant as a put down, but if people want their own systems (perhaps without the annoying 'we are forwarding you' page), it's certainly easy to construct.. and if you have a short domain, all the better!
posted by wackybrit at 4:53 PM on July 10, 2001

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