The lost URL

Just wondering: Are we losing a wealth of link knowledge on Twitter because it’s all going through TinyURL and other services that truncate addresses so they’ll fit? I’d love to know who’s getting linked in Twitter but to do that, I imagine one would have to scrape and then click on and resolve every one of those proxy URLs, no? If so, this is a shame.

  • I totally agree. There should be a better way to see and get the benefit from these links. It would also be great if the system de-duplicated similar URLs and recognized duplicates. Twitter would have to truncate longer URLs to TinyURL or another service, but it would be worth the integration.

  • They’re also all marked with rel=”nofollow” so they aren’t then indexed by search engines.

    I’ve often wondered what the impact of this is on sites who get promoted heavily through Twitter – those inbound links must not count in the algorithm.

  • Jeff, an excellent point. I agree obfuscating urls by shortening them is a problem. That’s why in the new feed aggregator I built, , shortened urls are auto-expanded. Then, it acts smart about what that original url is; auto-embedding YouTube videos, etc.

  • does URL tracking of a sort – you can see the top links (that have been shortened with Twurl) etc.

  • tomj

    The real question is why tinyurl exists. It exists because there are too many websites which use extremely long urls, usually including an ugly ‘query string’, that is something after a ? in the url.

    A good example of a website which doesn’t follow this pattern is msnbc and/or slate (same owner). They essentially do what tinyurl does internally.

    Oh, one other reason tinyurl exists is because a lot of email software can’t handle these long urls, so they get chopped up. Most users can’t figure this out, so they can’t click on the link.

    But there are still other evils in linking. Even Google has a redirection service, so you can’t get the actual url without clicking, so there is a lookup service between Google and the websites.

    Another evil is simply ‘link rot’. This is the opposite of what we are talking about here: a link evaporates. Some valuable information is removed from the internet. But, beside the fact that the information is removed, the documents which reference/link to it are diminished. Over time, users become skeptical of the validity of the linking document.

    Anyway, this is an old story, and tinyurl isn’t much of a help, but isn’t any worse than other issues.

  • Sounds like a useful plugin – the LinkResolver or something like that. Would show the real link on mouseover and copy it to the clipboard on Ctrl-Click or something like that.

    Anyone interested?

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