Link shortening madness

URL shorteners are handy when space is limited, but each one adds another fatal point of failure. To make the point, if I want you to read about New Business Margin on Revenue. And by the way you should because it’s an important newish concept, the link will work provided your internet connection is working, the relevant DNS is working and my server is running.

Let’s look at an extreme alternative:

  • First shorten link at http://goo.gl/ gets to http://goo.gl/TpJHG
  • Then take http://goo.gl/TpJHG and shorten at https://bitly.com to get http://bit.ly/17zpwir
  • Then http://tr.im/ gets http://tr.im/42hfd
  • Then TinyURL gets http://tinyurl.com/bnqfylu

Interestingly, is.gd didn’t want to shorten the link. TinyURL has a longish URK, but does have the awesome ability to provide your own shortened URL like http://tinyurl.com/NBMR-shorten

I’m not provide embedded links for all of those because it’s a bit silly. But you can see when you click on the last link as it backtracks through each of the shorteners before arriving at the destination. Each step is the chance for catastrophic failure.

So please don’t use link shorteners in ordinary web content. It’s not necessary and makes the internet increasingly fragile.

Published by David Kirk

The opinions expressed on this site are those of the author and other commenters and are not necessarily those of his employer or any other organisation. David Kirk runs Milliman’s actuarial consulting practice in Africa. He is an actuary and is the creator of New Business Margin on Revenue. He specialises in risk and capital management, regulatory change and insurance strategy . He also has extensive experience in embedded value reporting, insurance-related IFRS and share option valuation.

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