URL Shorteners Are Evil, And Why I Have One

Url shortening has been around for quite a long time, but it has exploded due to the popularity of Twitter.  Money tends to follow the popular so dozens of URL shortening services sprang, seemingly overnight, to fill the gap.  The first to go down for the count, tr.im, decided to throw in the towel due to mounting costs that are associated with running what is essentially a redirecting service.  I'm not sure what the business model is for these sites, except that they have a goldmine of information to what people are linking and sharing with others. Apparently, tr.im couldn't figure it out, either.

Failed business models aside, this brings up an interesting topic of discussion concerning link rot.  The age old problem with the Internet is that everything depends on linkage to sites or pages that may no longer exist.  This problem mushrooms when people become dependent on these URL shortening services that go belly up.  Instead of link rot existing as a natural phenomena that occurs over time, we can now have link cancer when these services go away.  When the service dies, the links go with them.

The logical conclusion, then, is this: why not have sites publish through their own internal URL shortening services?  I did just the same with my own site, waynehartman.com, and purchased a short domain name for publishing my own short URLs.  I figure that if my site or online persona goes belly up, it doesn't matter much if my short URLs go with me.

The problem I ran into was that I could not just get any short domain name.  They have all been snapped up.  I had to settle on misf.me.  I came up with the acronym Make It Short For.Me.  I would have preferred to get a two or three letter domain name, but it appears that most (if not all) have been gobbled up by domain squatters.

At any rate, my $10 domain name is now purchased and the site for creating my short URLs is forthcoming.  Goodbye, Bit.ly.

Posted on Aug 10
Written by Wayne Hartman