Shorten that web address!
Have you ever wanted to email students the address (URL) of a web page but it was just too long? Here’s a link for an informational flyer on Creative Commons, for example – http://wiki.creativecommons.org/images/6/62/Creativecommons-informational-flyer_eng.pdf. If you have a cooperative email program, there’s no problem. But if the message line containing the address gets split, watch out.
Faculty members who have the right expertise can add links to a course web page, but sometimes you don’t have time for that. You need a way to make those long addresses shorter. Enter the URL shorteners. Visit one of these sites, paste your long address into a text box and click a button. Up comes a very short URL that, when clicked, forwards to your long address.The long address above for Creative Commons shortens to bit.ly/9HOsXl, for example.
The main URL shortening services are
- bit.ly – the most popular, a bit commercial
- TinyURL.com – the original, very basic
- goo.gl – the new kid on the block
Here’s a personal example: the address of the home page for my course this semester is http://www.nd.edu/~cclark2/capp30523/index.html. That’s not ridiculously long, but tinyurl.com/capp30523 is much shorter and easier to remember. At TinyURL you can request a specific address, if it’s available. You can do the same at bit.ly if you are a member (free).
Isn’t goo.gl/NZsFm a lot easier?
Surprisingly, this kind of service has been available for nearly ten years. How do they make money? Bit.ly offers a “Pro” service that will give you special addresses and track hits. TinyURL takes donations.
- International law – Libya controls the ly domain, so they could shut down bit.ly
- Blocking – Saudi Arabia has allegedly blocked tinyurl.com, and Panera Bread blocks its use over their free wi-fi
- Wikipedia and Craigslist do not accept shortened URLs
Background – URL shortening – at Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.