Smaller is Better: Dealing with Long URL's

By at 25 September, 2006, 12:55 pm

One of the problems we frequently encounter when we find an interesting website is trying to provide others with the URL for that site.  Often, the URL that we have is so long that our e-mail program creates a line break prior to the end of the URL.  This results in a two or more line URL in the e-mail message and when clicked on, often does not activate the entire URL. This results in not being taken to the correct webpage.  Enter TinyURL

 
Tiny URL is a URL shortening service that takes long, unwieldy URLs and shortens them into a URL that never breaks.  You can create a shortened URL by copying the URL of the webpage you want to send, going to tiny URL and pasting it into the conversion box.  This will generate a TinyURL which never expires.  You can go to the TinyURL toolbar  page and drag-and-drop a link to place a TinyURL creation button on your Internet Explorer toolbar. Firefox users have several options for integrating tiny URL into Firefox including: TinyUrl Creator 1.0.2; Tinywww Creator 1.0; and TinyURL Toolbar 0.1. As an example of how tiny URL can shorten a link. Here is the URL for the Firefox search results page for TinyURL https://addons.mozilla.org/search.php?q=tinyurl&app=firefox ;here is the TinyURL I created for this same page: http://tinyurl.com/mw633.

Another example of how beneficial shortening a long URL can be:

Here is the URL for the Law Office Management Assistance Program resource Library page at the State Bar of Wisconsin:

http://www.wisbar.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Practice411s_Advice_

Alert&Template=/CustomSource/LOMAP/advice_alert.cfm

Here's that same link using TinyURL: http://tinyurl.com/ehpxv .

There are other URL shortening services available and a comparison of these various services can be found at notlong.com http://notlong.com/links/ which not only provides this comparison but also offers URL shortening services of its own.  However, the most widely known and arguably most widely used service is TinyURL.

URL shortening services can be used for nefarious purposes including hiding the fact that you're being sent to an affiliated link or to hide the true URL of the site.  Unfortunately, this is a fact of life that, like most things on the Internet today, can be used for legitimate purposes as well as illegitimate purposes such as for phishing scams, porn sites and more.  If you see a shortened URL inside of a PayPal message or similar message, you should not open it.  But even with these nefarious possibilities, I believe that the legitimate and helpful purposes of a tool such as TinyURL far out weigh the potential downside to its use.

Categories : Internet | Tips and Tricks


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