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The drawbacks of shortlinks

These days it seems that people would rather generate a shortlink than use a real link, even when it’s not much shorter. It’s hip, after all. (Peter actually caught me doing this. It was for a link that used to be long but was shortened recently so a shortlink isn’t needed anymore. I did it to continue a habit, not for hipness.)

I’ve begun to see an increasing number of drawbacks to short link services. Here are a few I can think of: 1) if the service is down, the link is broken; this just happened to me. 2) I can’t see where it’s headed, so I don’t know if I’ve already read it. 3) I don’t know what I’m about to click through to, so I’m less likely to trust and click. 4) I’m much more interested in the content if I know what it is. Some of these problems are helped by links that are chosen not to be a random hash, but not all.

I’m starting to feel that it’s bad netiquette to use shortlinks unless they are really needed. And I’m a little troubled by what happens if tinyurl and bit.ly go bankrupt – half the Internet will be full of broken links. Oh wait, that will mostly affect Twitter… maybe it’s not so bad after all.

Posted on Thu, Apr 21, 2011. Approximately 300 Words.

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