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The TinyURL Plague

P: n/a
TinyURL and similar services, as you may know, let users create a short
URL out of a long URL. Most people use it in newsgroups or emails only,
others use it on Web pages.

I find TinyURL has the power to destroy many things online, like
PageRank, right-click-to-copy-URL, visited link colors, to name a few.
The least they do is obfuscating where one will be taken to, which is a
big usability issue. I'm not even mentioning the fact a service like
TinyURL might stop existing or start showing advertisement, and create
many dead links.

Any opinions on this, or possibly a good page online explaining the
problems associated with TinyURL et al? Or do you think it's harmless?
How could one go about educating people?

--
Google Blogoscoped
http://blog.outer-court.com
Jul 20 '05 #1
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18 Replies


P: n/a
Els


Philipp Lenssen wrote:
TinyURL and similar services, as you may know, let users create a short
URL out of a long URL. Most people use it in newsgroups or emails only,
others use it on Web pages.

I find TinyURL has the power to destroy many things online, like
PageRank, right-click-to-copy-URL, visited link colors, to name a few.
The least they do is obfuscating where one will be taken to, which is a
big usability issue. I'm not even mentioning the fact a service like
TinyURL might stop existing or start showing advertisement,
It's already used for advertising.
Whichever page you have in your browser when you click
'tinyurl' in your toolbar (provided you have installed it),
gets a visit from Google's Mediabot directly afterwards.

And pages that are indexed by the Mediabot, get
"appropriate" ads (I think AdSense) for example when they
are viewed in the free version of Opera.
and create
many dead links.

Any opinions on this, or possibly a good page online explaining the
problems associated with TinyURL et al? Or do you think it's harmless?
How could one go about educating people?


I haven't noticed any of the problems you mentioned, but
then again, I've only used TinyURL a couple of times so far.

--
Els
http://locusmeus.com/
Sonhos vem. Sonhos vo. O resto imperfeito.
- Renato Russo -

Jul 20 '05 #2

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"Philipp Lenssen" <in**@outer-court.com> wrote in message news:<2j************@uni-berlin.de>...
TinyURL and similar services, as you may know, let users create a short
URL out of a long URL. Most people use it in newsgroups or emails only,
Good.
others use it on Web pages.


Bad.
TinyURL (et al.) is a great idea and really helpful for Usenet. But
it's transitory, so when you post a link through it, post both
versions (and a blank line between). Provided it's not mis-used, I hav
eno problem with it at all. And what's wrong with triggering a visit
from a Google spider ?
Jul 20 '05 #3

P: n/a
Els
Andy Dingley wrote:
TinyURL (et al.) is a great idea and really helpful for Usenet. But
it's transitory, so when you post a link through it, post both
versions (and a blank line between). Provided it's not mis-used, I hav
eno problem with it at all. And what's wrong with triggering a visit
from a Google spider ?


Nothing. Just mentioned it :-)
It's not a spider which will help you get into Google
though, only looks at the content to find the right ads to
go with it.

--
Els
http://locusmeus.com/
Sonhos vem. Sonhos vo. O resto imperfeito.
- Renato Russo -

Jul 20 '05 #4

P: n/a
Andy Dingley wrote:
"Philipp Lenssen" <in**@outer-court.com> wrote in message
news:<2j************@uni-berlin.de>...
TinyURL and similar services, as you may know, let users create a
short URL out of a long URL.
Most people use it in newsgroups or emails only,


Good.


Newsgroups get indexed and are put on the Web. So TinyURL is really
never good. It is always better to see the full URL for usability
reasons, even in emails.

TinyURL (et al.) is a great idea and really helpful for Usenet. But
it's transitory, so when you post a link through it, post both
versions (and a blank line between). Provided it's not mis-used


I believe you can't use TinyURL without misusing links. The whole
concept is broken and breaks Web tools too.

--
Google Blogoscoped
http://blog.outer-court.com
Jul 20 '05 #5

P: n/a

"Philipp Lenssen" <in**@outer-court.com> wrote in message
news:2j************@uni-berlin.de...
Andy Dingley wrote:
"Philipp Lenssen" <in**@outer-court.com> wrote in message
news:<2j************@uni-berlin.de>...
TinyURL and similar services, as you may know, let users create a
short URL out of a long URL.
Most people use it in newsgroups or emails only,


Good.


Newsgroups get indexed and are put on the Web. So TinyURL is really
never good.


If I find a resource to which I want to refer in a newsgroup posting, in
what way is it my responsibility to optimize that resource's Google
positioning for that resource? I'm not under any obligation to post the link
at all, let alone to contribute to its link count for Google.
It is always better to see the full URL for usability
reasons, even in emails.
Why?

TinyURL (et al.) is a great idea and really helpful for Usenet. But
it's transitory, so when you post a link through it, post both
versions (and a blank line between). Provided it's not mis-used
I believe you can't use TinyURL without misusing links.


What do you mean by "misuse"?
The whole
concept is broken and breaks Web tools too.


In what ways?

Jul 20 '05 #6

P: n/a
Harlan Messinger wrote:

"Philipp Lenssen" <in**@outer-court.com> wrote in message
news:2j************@uni-berlin.de...
Andy Dingley wrote:

Newsgroups get indexed and are put on the Web. So TinyURL is really
never good.
If I find a resource to which I want to refer in a newsgroup posting,
in what way is it my responsibility to optimize that resource's Google
positioning for that resource? I'm not under any obligation to post
the link at all, let alone to contribute to its link count for Google.


No, you are in no obligation to do anything for Google -- I didn't even
mention Google (it's not the only service putting Usenet on the Web).
However you will break more than just Google by using TinyURL and
similar services.
It is always better to see the full URL for usability
reasons, even in emails.


Why?


Because then you can make assumptions about:
- What type of document it is (e.g. html, pdf, image)
- Wether or not you saw this document before
- You can see a link color adjusted if your email client is integrated
with your browser
- You can print out the URL
- You can save the URL for later use
- and so on (too many to mention)

TinyURL (et al.) is a great idea and really helpful for Usenet.
But it's transitory, so when you post a link through it, post both
versions (and a blank line between). Provided it's not mis-used


I believe you can't use TinyURL without misusing links.


What do you mean by "misuse"?


Links in HTML are intended to go like this:
<a href="http://www.example.com">Example</a>

And in an Email, they go like this:
http://www.example.com
<http://www.example.com>
<URL:http://www.example.com>

Whichever way you prefer.
Misusing a link in HTML could look like this:
<a href="http://www.example.com">Click here</a>
Why? Because you obfuscate semantics.

Obfuscating in a text-only format can still be done by using TinyURL. I
can't even mouse-over to find out the target URL.
The whole
concept is broken and breaks Web tools too.


In what ways?


Why would you want to use a third-party web service to implement
something as simple as a link pointing to a URL? Why would you want to
take that risk and break other tools, like browsers? I already
explained why you risk breaking them. TinyURLs are not evil per se and
not the wors thing on the Web (that would be small font-sizes, I guess)
but they are becoming increasingly annoying.

Take this blog (which I like and link to) as example:
<http://google.rajjesh.com/>

All URLs are using some service like TyinURL and this is really broken.

--
Google Blogoscoped
http://blog.outer-court.com
Jul 20 '05 #7

P: n/a

"Philipp Lenssen" <in**@outer-court.com> wrote in message
news:2j************@uni-berlin.de...
Harlan Messinger wrote:

"Philipp Lenssen" <in**@outer-court.com> wrote in message
news:2j************@uni-berlin.de...
Andy Dingley wrote:

Newsgroups get indexed and are put on the Web. So TinyURL is really
never good.
If I find a resource to which I want to refer in a newsgroup posting,
in what way is it my responsibility to optimize that resource's Google
positioning for that resource? I'm not under any obligation to post
the link at all, let alone to contribute to its link count for Google.


No, you are in no obligation to do anything for Google -- I didn't even
mention Google (it's not the only service putting Usenet on the Web).
However you will break more than just Google by using TinyURL and
similar services.


Perhaps you can tell me how your answer will be different for other indexing
services than it is for Google. Or perhaps you'll even answer my question.
:-)

[snip]
- You can see a link color adjusted if your email client is integrated
with your browser
- You can print out the URL
- You can save the URL for later use
- and so on (too many to mention)


You can print a tiny URL and save it as well. You can also record and print
the real URL the first time you follow the tiny URL link.
> TinyURL (et al.) is a great idea and really helpful for Usenet.
> But it's transitory, so when you post a link through it, post both
> versions (and a blank line between). Provided it's not mis-used

I believe you can't use TinyURL without misusing links.


What do you mean by "misuse"?


Links in HTML are intended to go like this:
<a href="http://www.example.com">Example</a>

And in an Email, they go like this:
http://www.example.com
<http://www.example.com>
<URL:http://www.example.com>

Whichever way you prefer.
Misusing a link in HTML could look like this:
<a href="http://www.example.com">Click here</a>
Why? Because you obfuscate semantics.

Obfuscating in a text-only format can still be done by using TinyURL. I
can't even mouse-over to find out the target URL.
The whole
concept is broken and breaks Web tools too.


In what ways?


Why would you want to use a third-party web service to implement
something as simple as a link pointing to a URL? Why would you want to
take that risk and break other tools, like browsers?


Consider that the breaking of tools by long "real" URLs is what motivated
the appearance of services like TinyURL in the first place.

[snip]

Jul 20 '05 #8

P: n/a
Harlan Messinger wrote:

"Philipp Lenssen" <in**@outer-court.com> wrote in message
news:2j************@uni-berlin.de...

No, you are in no obligation to do anything for Google -- I didn't
even mention Google (it's not the only service putting Usenet on
the Web). However you will break more than just Google by using
TinyURL and similar services.


Perhaps you can tell me how your answer will be different for other
indexing services than it is for Google. Or perhaps you'll even
answer my question. :-)


Any tool which analyzes URLs by just looking at them (say, for the
browser trying to understand what links are visited, to colorize them).
See you can use image maps, JavaScript links, links from within Flash,
etc. -- they all will work in a lot of situations. But they all do
break in several situations. That's the situation with HTML, and the
same applies to TinyURL links too.

Consider that the breaking of tools by long "real" URLs is what
motivated the appearance of services like TinyURL in the first place.


Yes, you are right, and it is unfortunate some tools break long URLs.
However you can use <...> to fix that. I'm not saying I don't see why
TinyURLs are considered useful by some, it's just that in fact they are
fixing a problem by introducing a set of new problems. Not really
helpful in the end. Most people apparently don't even know about the
problems these things bring with them.

Again, a URL carries a lot of information on its own. It's like when
someone asks you "what's your address?" you say "ask my mailman Carl".
Now while that might be great if Carl is around, and it's also a quick
answer, but why would you depend on Carl for someone else to find you?
For all we know Carl might stop working in some years. There's also a
chance you will be moving, it's just an additional risk by relying on
Carl.

Well, I guess I have to write up something for my blog on this topic.

--
Google Blogoscoped
http://blog.outer-court.com
Jul 20 '05 #9

P: n/a
"Philipp Lenssen" <in**@outer-court.com> wrote in
comp.infosystems.www.authoring.html:
I find TinyURL has the power to destroy many things online, like
PageRank, ..., visited link colors,


I don't understand. How does Tinyurl destroy page rank or visited
link colors?

--
Stan Brown, Oak Road Systems, Cortland County, New York, USA
http://OakRoadSystems.com/
HTML 4.01 spec: http://www.w3.org/TR/html401/
validator: http://validator.w3.org/
CSS 2 spec: http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-CSS2/
2.1 changes: http://www.w3.org/TR/CSS21/changes.html
validator: http://jigsaw.w3.org/css-validator/
Jul 20 '05 #10

P: n/a
Philipp Lenssen wrote:
TinyURL is really never good. It is always better to see the full URL for usability reasons
then you can make assumptions about:
- What type of document it is (e.g. html, pdf, image)


You can't do that, especially in situations where the http protocol is
followed. The appendix of a url that follows a period is not a file
extension. It may correspond with a file extension on the server. Then
again, it may not. A url may involve server side creation, or it may
be a static file. The url will not tell you. One could even use e.g.,

http://www.example.com/foo.jpg to refer to an html document
http://www.example.com/foo.html to refer to a pdf document
http://www.example.com/foo.pdf to refer to a text file
http://www.example.com/foo.txt to refer to a png image

etc. Any of these examples seem rather perverse, but consider where
you have /foo.html and you want to change it from a static file to a
cgi program output, /foo.cgi. You can redirect from the old to the
new, or you can simply rewrite .html to .cgi. Cool urls don't change
and all that.

There are even sites set up with no "extension" for any resources (see
url in sig for one). The idea is that an author can change the
technology for a resource without having to commit to a technology in
the url, leaving it technology neutral.

--
Brian (remove ".invalid" to email me)
http://www.tsmchughs.com/
Jul 20 '05 #11

P: n/a
On Mon, 14 Jun 2004 14:59:01 -0400, Stan Brown
<th************@fastmail.fm> wrote:
"Philipp Lenssen" <in**@outer-court.com> wrote in
comp.infosystems.www.authoring.html:
I find TinyURL has the power to destroy many things online, like
PageRank, ..., visited link colors,


I don't understand. How does Tinyurl destroy page rank or visited
link colors?


I don't understand. What is "TinyURL" ?

--
Rex

Jul 20 '05 #12

P: n/a
On Tue, 15 Jun 2004 03:53:08 +0200, Jan Roland Eriksson
<jr****@newsguy.com> wrote:

[...]
I don't understand. What is "TinyURL" ?


See:

<http://tinyurl.com/>

Also, another similar service:

<http://makeashorterlink.com/>

Nick

--
Nick Theodorakis
ni**************@hotmail.com
nicholas_theodorakis [at] urmc [dot] rochester [dot] edu
Jul 20 '05 #13

P: n/a

"Philipp Lenssen" <in**@outer-court.com> wrote in message
news:2j************@uni-berlin.de...

Any opinions on this, or possibly a good page online explaining the
problems associated with TinyURL et al? Or do you think it's harmless?
How could one go about educating people?

for all the previous discussions, the vast majority of tinyurl users aren't
interested in philosophical arguments or best pratice guidelines, they are
just using it because they want a shorter url.

like it or not tinyurl is there and there's nothing you can do to stop it.

there are lots of sites that rely on 403 redirection and they all have these
same problems - the nature of HTTP is that sometimes that's the best (or
only) way to do something.

IHMO the biggest problem is that if the service is a success they will
almost certainly want to either force adverts on you when you follow a
tinyurl, or charge you for following it.
--
Google Blogoscoped
http://blog.outer-court.com

Jul 20 '05 #14

P: n/a
Stan Brown wrote:
"Philipp Lenssen" <in**@outer-court.com> wrote in
comp.infosystems.www.authoring.html:
I find TinyURL has the power to destroy many things online, like
PageRank, ..., visited link colors,


I don't understand. How does Tinyurl destroy page rank or visited
link colors?


Simple -- if you mention a URL like tinyurl.bla.bla and my email
client, browser, or whatever understands visited color versus unvisited
link color (e.g. purple vs blue), it will not render this URL as
visited, even if I was at its destination this week. That is because I
might not have followed the TinyURL before. After all it's just an
arbirtrary way to redirect me. In fact the link color is the least
important problem. In any case I wrote a post on this issue at:

Google Blogoscoped
http://blog.outer-court.com
Jul 20 '05 #15

P: n/a
Andy Fish wrote:

"Philipp Lenssen" <in**@outer-court.com> wrote in message
news:2j************@uni-berlin.de...

Any opinions on this, or possibly a good page online explaining the
problems associated with TinyURL et al? Or do you think it's
harmless? How could one go about educating people?

for all the previous discussions, the vast majority of tinyurl users
aren't interested in philosophical arguments or best pratice
guidelines, they are just using it because they want a shorter url.


Yes, that is why they need to see arguments. Most people are open to
reasonable arguments, they just don't know any better. I switched from
Outlook Express to this news client because I am open for arguments. I
started to validate my HTML years ago because I am open for arguments.
I learn, and educate, and learn in return. Or have you given up believe
in improvement?
like it or not tinyurl is there and there's nothing you can do to
stop it.


Sure, I can educate people to not use it. Wether that helps or not, I
can try. And there's nothing you can do to stop me. :)

--
Google Blogoscoped
http://blog.outer-court.com
Jul 20 '05 #16

P: n/a
Brian wrote:
Philipp Lenssen wrote:
TinyURL is really never good. It is always better to see the full URL for usability reasons

then you can make assumptions about:
- What type of document it is (e.g. html, pdf, image)


You can't do that, especially in situations where the http protocol
is followed.


I said you can make an assumption -- you don't have proof. In the real
world, an assumption is often enough. 99.9%* of URLs that look like this
http://www.example.com/foo.pdf
will indeed be Acrobat Reader downloads.

*That's a higher probability than "Mary Jane" in an IRC chat room being
a female.

--
Google Blogoscoped
http://blog.outer-court.com
Jul 20 '05 #17

P: n/a
On Tue, 15 Jun 2004 06:26:12 GMT, "Andy Fish"
<aj****@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote:
[...]
like it or not tinyurl is there ...


.... for the time being, anyway -- in the future, who knows? This is a
good reason for not using it in webpages (for which I see little point
anyway), which should have stable urls.

Some might argue that for usenet posts, which are more ephemeral, a
tinyurl link might be appropriate. OTOH, thanks to google, usenet
posts are not so ephemeral after all. OTGH, for links to truly
time-sensitive content (e.g., a newspaper article, which often have
long urls) it might be ok. I would still include the original link,
though as well, though.

Nick

--
Nick Theodorakis
ni**************@hotmail.com
nicholas_theodorakis [at] urmc [dot] rochester [dot] edu
Jul 20 '05 #18

P: n/a
Nick Theodorakis wrote:
Some might argue that for usenet posts, which are more ephemeral, a
tinyurl link might be appropriate. OTOH, thanks to google, usenet
posts are not so ephemeral after all. OTGH, for links to truly
time-sensitive content (e.g., a newspaper article, which often have
long urls) it might be ok. I would still include the original link,
though as well, though.


Yes, always include the real url. I won't use a tinyurl as I've heard
(unsubstantiated) that there is redirection going on that *may* be
routing through one or more spyware sites. Even if this is untrue, I
still want to know what site I'm going to before going there. For
instance, I don't click on a link to sites that I know has bunches of
popups, java, javascript, etc. To avoid being sent there, I also don't
click on tinyurls.

--
Stan McCann "Uncle Pirate"
Webmaster/Computer Center Manager, NMSU at Alamogordo
Cooordinator, Tularosa Basin Chapter, ABATE of NM AMA#758681
'94 1500 Vulcan (now wrecked) :( http://surecann.com/Dcp_2068c.jpg
A zest for living must include a willingness to die. - R.A. Heinlein

Jul 20 '05 #19

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