How do you shorten URLs?
There are various different services that allow you to shorten your URLs, or web address. One of the more popular is TinyURL.com. This website will take any long URL and turn it into something much shorter so that it will be easier to share via email, Twitter, IM, text message, etc. For example:
The above link was actually sent as a text on my phone using the TinyURL service on their website; here's what the final version looked like on my phone (notice how short it is!):
This link won't work forever (it may not even work for more than a day), but if you were an email forwarded the original link, you would notice that it does redirect to the original website as well as show you a preview of what's within.
Do Web 2.0 websites shorten URLs?
Yes! In fact, many web 2.0 services use TinyURL to make your long URL much shorter and shareable by others. These sites will often have their own custom short domain name, which is a unique word or a number at the end of tinyurl.com (ex: bitly.com/sxsw2010). Some examples are:
The above link is what you would actually send out to others using Twitter, Delicious, Reddit, etc., but your friends will see something smaller when they click on it! Now imagine how much easier it would be to share with other people if new websites also used TinyURL :)
Do You Know About Other Web 2.0 Services That Shorten URLs?
There are countless Twitter clients, blogs, social bookmarking sites, and more that use their own URL shortening system. The benefit of using something like this is that you can choose to make your links even shorter (most services allow for between 5-20 characters), but the downside is that they typically won't redirect others to your target website; they'll take them to a separate page with no preview. Many times these services will try and monetize by showing ads or asking for donations within the destination page as well.
Here's a list of popular sites and what kind of shortened link service they use:
Twitter: Use Twitter's built in tco shortener (this is the service that TinyURL uses, and this is what you see in the above examples)
Blogger: Use Blogger's built-in link shortener
Friendster: Automatically shortened links don't work anymore with Friendster accounts. If you want to have a customized URL for your personal account, go here . If you want to have a personalized URL for groups or community pages, then there's no choice but to use an external link shortening service like TinyUrl.
Delicious: Delicious has their own link shortening system called Del.icio.us - here are some more details on how it works
Reddit: Reddit also has their own built in link shortener called Redditex ( reddit . com/tb/ )
StumbleUpon: StumbleUpon has an option to create customized URLs. Here's how it works .
Diigo: Diigo uses bit.ly for their link shortener ( you can find more details about this here ).
Is TinyURL Safe?
TinyURL is generally considered to be safe because there are no advertisements on the website and they don't track any of the traffic that goes through their servers; however, in 2008 they did copy all of their users' bookmarks (anonymously, without permission) to use in a study for MIT . There is also some concern over privacy when using services like this one - there have been discussions in blog posts like this one , which illustrates why sometimes long encrypted links are better than key-shortened links.
More TinyURL Resources: How to Shorten Your Links on Social Bookmarking Sites
How to create short URLs for your blog posts
Where can I find out more information about TinyURL?
Why Did You Write This Article?
As you may have noticed above, many of the shortened links you see online lead to sites that "sell" these services. That is why this article was written - it's my intent to inform the general public of the benefits and differences between different types of link shorteners with an emphasis on how each one works with popular web 2.0 websites like Twitter, Delicious, Reddit, etc. are some questions that were asked by my friends on Twitter.
I hope this article was helpful! If you have any more questions, feel free to contact me .
Well thank you for taking the time to read all of this - I hope it helped answer some of your questions about TinyURL! Have a nice day :) ~TinyURL Support
Question: How come the letter "e" is at the end of tinyurl.com? What does that mean? Answer: There's no need to worry, there are no viruses attached to the end of special web addresses like that. The "e" stands for "everything." These sites allow people to shorten links that lead to websites with very long URLs (like http://some-really-long-website/page-that-needs-to-be-shortened/). So instead of typing out the entire address, they can just use something like http://tinyurl.com/2b8xh to shorten it and then share that link with their friends. When you click on a TinyURL.com link, you will automatically be taken to the original link (in this case http://some-really-long-website/page-that-needs-to-be shorted/)
Question: Can anyone see what I'm pasting into tinyurl? Reply: No one except the person who made the TinyURL can see it - it literally gets lost in cyberspace :) Question: Why does my browser take me back to the TinyURL homepage when I try to visit a link? Reply: If you're using Internet Explorer, then check your Temporary Internet Files (or Cookies) and make sure that TinyURL is accepted.
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