Putting my name to URL redirection
URL shortening has become a big business in 2009, primarily because of Twitter‘s 140 character limitation, but shortened URL’s have other applications too such as for use in SMS and email. The most popular URL shorteners to date have been bit.ly, tr.im, cli.gs, shorturl.com, short.ie, tinyurl.com and is.gd.
Whilst URL shorteners cut down web address sizes, they can also be problematic.
For starters, there was a massive problem in June 2009 when cli.gs was hacked and 2.2 million shortened URL’s simultaneously redirected to a newspaper website. Then last week, tr.im announced that it had run out of capital and was shutting down; an action that would have littered the internet with millions of broken links until it was restored yesterday. Both of these issues highlighted two important problems with commercial URL shortening services – their security and their longevity.
In addition to these concerns, masking the identity of URL’s poses a security concern for many internet users. I make it a personal habit of reading the address of any new URL before I click, just in case. If it looks dodgy, I don’t touch it. Whilst I trust my personal contacts on various websites not to exploit URL shorteners, I can’t trust everybody. And therefore, I have some general concern about the URL’s produced by bit.ly et al.
Since I am now using Twitter to some extent and because I am a “do it yourself” sort of bloke when it comes to the internet, I thought I’d set up my own URL shortener. I wanted to choose a name that could be incorporated into a top-level domain and that was memorable. So what better name than my own?
Dot.ch is the domain of Switzerland and anyone can register a web address directly under .ch without using a second-level identifier such as occurs in Australia with .com.au, .id.au, .gov.au et cetera. Plus, registering a .ch domain is surprisingly cheap. Just A$18 in fact.
For the price of a decent restaurant meal, I can now manage my own URL redirects without having to worry about the commercial viability or security of third-party services. With the click of a button, I can turn http://www.flickr.com/photos/adonline/3773979857/ (51 characters) into http://adamdime.ch/4kv6dz (15 characters) for posting on Twitter, use in emails et cetera.
It turns out that many people have decided to take the same “hands on” approach to URL shortening that I did, possibly because of the demise of tr.im. A quick search of the net located dntd.cc by Dented Reality; jusr.us by Justin Russell, and ilv.me by Brent Danley. And corporates now have them too – fli.kr by Flickr and cokeurl.com by Coca-Cola.
So whether this phenomenon is a mere trend or an evolution of the internet, time will tell. But for now at least, I will be putting my own name to URL redirection.