Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Domain Specific Short URLs

This is an expansion of what I initially posted as a comment on Ed Bott's blog post Be careful what you click! The perils of URL shorteners.

I think we’ll start seeing moderately longer urls that actually give some info about what they are linking to.

The next trend is towards sites using their own domain specific short urls.

When my mother-in-law forwards me news stories from USA Today, the links are in the form http://usat.me?38738442 (If I was USA Today, I would make that even shorter by using letters.)

As Ed points out, ZDNet does have their own short doman name -- zd.net. YouTube has youtu.be, but I haven’t seen anyone actually use it. These new domain specific short urls are fighting an uphill battle because they depend on the person sharing the link to know about them and use them. General url shortening services like bit.ly or is.gd are easier to use because they work for any link.

I created a url shortening system that only works for Bible references at dbible.com. Instead of a randomly generated url, you can see the scripture reference in the link (as in dbible.com/Jn3:16). So even if someone doesn't click the link, they'll know the verse (or verses or chapter) that you're referring to. The other benefit of this system is that you don't need to visit dbible.com or use an API to compose these short urls. Just append the reference to "dbible.com/" and post your link.