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The problem with TinyURL …

July 13, 2008

The problem with TinyURL.com is that its source code is not free. And I can’t find any other open services/projects that offers the same features (1).

I realized this when trying to add a long link in a Twitter update (2, 3). A maximum of 140 characters doesn’t allow you to add much text around. And it seems that a lot of Twitter users are using the TinyURL.com service which allows you to translate a small URL it gives you to the full, “regular” URL. For example, http://www.poirrier.be/~jean-etienne/ (37 characters) becomes http://tinyurl.com/6kq84z (25 characters).

But … TinyURL is trademarked and its terms of services explicitely tell us they may report your activity to some “agencies” … In addition to the reasons why Udi hates TinyURLs, I wonder how is stored your URLs. Well, it’s not exactly “how?” but “with which additional information?”. I guess they store your IP address, ISP and location (to be able to report your activity to your ISP and U.S. agencies) along with your submition, date & time, … Nothing is said about privacy in their page. Nothing is said either about the time they will keep your URL (what if you try to use your TinyURL in 5 months or 5 years?). And obviously, no source code available. On the other hand, if you don’t want to use the service, you are also free not to use it.

The only problem is that I can’t find proper, free/open alternatives. There are dead/unborn projects like this one at Mozdev or url(x) (no, GiganticURL is not a solution ;-) ). And there is even a PEAR service to TinyURL. Decent URL is not a solution since it’s only a variation on TinyURL (still not open/free and nothing about privacy). BURL is often cited but the only link I have is broken.

It could be nice to have a TinyURL-like service with open source/free source code and a clear overview of privacy settings (why not à-la-carte settings defined when the user submit his/her long URL?). (Note that Udi also has interesting additional ideas in his previously cited post, mainly about knowing what kind of media you’ll get with the short URL)

(1) The first sentence of this post is a kind of “executive summary”. I hope I’m not getting too old to indulge myself in this kind of thing ;-)
(2) Yes, I now have a Twitter account. I don’t know the real purpose of having this kind of thing along with my own blog. Let’s see …
(3) I know, Twitter doesn’t have an open/free source code too. But open source microblogging site may become Twitter fallback.

From → Open Source

2 Comments
  1. wanna950 permalink

    yeah i had also been facing problem with tinyurl.com. So i was looking for an alternative. I found this one – http://turl.us . turl.us is much better than tinyurl.com. I now use http://turl.us. It provides complete stats and bulk submission. Also i can edit my urls anytime.

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  1. epot’s blog » Blog Archive » The “problem with TinyURL” is (partially) solved

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