Internet URL address-shortening services are useful
January 30, 2011
by Mark Ollig

All of us have seen those lengthy Uniform Resource Locator (URL) Internet address links in an e-mail, blog, social network, or online chat room.

Copying and pasting these long-drawn-out links unquestionably takes up a lot space.

Accurately typing or writing out a long URL address on paper is sometimes frustrating.

Back in the day (is this becoming an overly used phrase lately?), there was not much one could do about it. When a long URL address link was sent in an e-mail, sometimes it would automatically be abbreviated, causing missing characters and resulting in a broken and completely useless link.

The person you sent the link to ends up e-mailing you back saying, “Your link didn’t work for me.”


One of the first URL address- shortening sites I found out about was back in 2002, and it is one I still use to this day.

The company is called TinyURL, and is located at – yes, you guessed it –http://tinyurl.com.

The shortened URL address link uses a “URL 301 Redirection” mapping technique which forwards the newly created shortened link to the lengthier original URL address.

Specifically, a URL address shortener is an online application which allows the sender to enter a full URL address for any specific web page, click a button, and have the URL shortening service automatically abbreviate the lengthy URL address to a shortened domain name, which uses a unique shortened character code. When the recipient clicks on this shortened link, they are redirected to the original URL address – the same as if they had entered or clicked on the original lengthy URL link.

I have the tinyurl.com extension application on my browsers toolbar.

When I come across a web page I want to forward to someone, I can just click the tinyurl browser tool and have the long URL address automatically changed to a shorter URL address.

During the time yours truly has been writing this column, I have frequently provided shortened URL’s in order to save space and word count.

The shorter URL address is also easier to write down and is simpler to cut and paste when online or in a word document.

Each newly created shortened URL address is unique and randomly generated.

Posting shortened URL address links on my Twitter account is essential, especially with the limited number of characters (and spaces) allowed on Twitter (140).

In 2002, TinyURL acquired a company providing URL address shortening services called, Make a Shorter Link (MASL).

MASL went online in 2001, and was started by Giles Turnbull. The software coding was created and maintained by Matthew Hunt.

For each URL address shortened, there is a unique “key character se”’ created after the top-level domain (tld) name. In this example, “http://tinyurl.com/5ttqhca,” the unique key character set “5ttqhca” is used.

If there are concerns about sending a nondescriptive shortened link, the tinyurl.com site provides the option to send the link with the word “preview” added in order to provide the receiver with some assurances before they are redirected to the actual URL address site.

This preview link will disclose the full URL address name to the recipient, and provide for them the choice of whether to click and proceed to it or not.

An example would be: http://preview.tinyurl.com/4vq72k6.

On some web browsers, such as Firefox, you can install a shortened URL source extension application. When you hover over a shortened URL link, the full URL address will appear, thus giving you assurances about its actual destination.

In 2009, Google came out with its URL address-shortening site located at: http://goo.gl.

As with most URL address shortening services, Google’s goo.gl URL mappings are unchangeable once you have created them.

If you are signed into goo.gl via your Google account, the short URL to long URL links you created are stored in your goo.gl short URL link history.

A new URL address-shortening website located at: http://bit.ly went online in New York in 2009.

Twitter had been using tinyurl.com for shortening longer URL’s, but recently they switched to bit.ly.

Bit.ly recently took away from tinyurl.com its previous ranking as the number-one URL address-shortening site.

The list of URL address- shortening services out there on the Internet keeps growing; the last count shows over 300 of them.

One list can be found at: http://longurl.org/services.

Most of these address link shortening services are free – nearly all ask for donations.

Many also offer “enhanced” URL address link shortening services you can pay for which provide additional features.

And for all my Polish speaking relatives out there, here is a URL address-shortening service from Poland: http://bisi.pl/.

Milego dnia!

Next time you have a lengthy URL address you want to forward, such as: “http://herald-journal.com/archives/2011/columns/mo011711.html” simply go to a URL shortening site and convert it to something more manageable like: “http://goo.gl/TQp8P” in its place.

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