You’ve probably seen these things… Instead of some ugly 5 long line link to an article that you have to cut and paste out of an email in 3 separate steps, you get something clean like http://tinyurl.com/9lcad.
Nice idea, bad execution. The problem of course, is that when I get one of these links I have absolutely no idea where I’m going to end up when I click on it. None. That’s a problem.
I want to know if I’m clicking on a link to a pdf or if I’m going to http://iloveraunchysex.com/fatties/. I want to know if I’m going to a site I trust, or something I’ve never seen before. I want to know if I’m wasting my time or not. With a tinyurl (or snipurl, or makeashorterlink, or shorl), I get none of these things. It’s a brick wall of obscurity hiding information from me.
A little bit of extra information goes a long way.
Update 3: 1/3/2006 Looks like a friend of a Yahoo! has built http://urlx.org/. Probably the nicest implementation yet. No one has yet implemented my file extension idea though…
Update 4: 1/14/2007 I like this approach much more: http://giganticurl.com