Five short years

On Friday, October 22, 2010 I conducted a scientific experiment: if one URL shortener can make a URL shorter, then fifteen URL shorteners can make it reaaaally short. The results were quite as you'd expect: the resulting link was longer than source, and browsers would go into convolutions trying to resolve the chain of shortened shorteners.

2010 was a big year for people who thought it would be a good idea to make smaller URLs. All it took was a rudimentary knowledge of a hash map and an hour of coding and suddenly you had a viable startup on your hands. There are a lot of URLs out there, so the thinking went, and people need a place to make them shorter. Phase 1: Shorten URLs...

So now it's 5 years later, and I thought it would be interesting to see what become of that unraveling chain of hopes and dreams. Here they are, in reverese order of resolve-y-ness:

  1. http://bit.ly/6YuThD ALIVE. Correctly resolves to mrspeaker.net
  2. http://goo.gl/oZrv ALIVE. Correctly resolves to mrspeaker.net
  3. http://tinyurl.com/34ve64r ALIVE. Correctly resolves to mrspeaker.net
  4. http://w8jyd.tk Service: ? Link: DEAD. I'm not even sure how this one ever worked!
  5. http://nik.im/4iB1 DEAD. Domain squatter-ed
  6. http://vbly.us/2ew7 ALIVE. "The internet's first and only sex-positive url shortener".
  7. http://alturl.com/gv49t ALIVE "Free short URLS since 1999"
  8. http://is.gd/gaWwV Service: ALIVE Link: DEAD. This looks reasonable though: "Link Disabled because of T&C violation".
  9. http://xrl.in/6jbi DEAD. Domain squatter-ed
  10. http://wurl.ca/?r=4oe DEAD. "Wurl Redirection Service is permanently closed."
  11. http://eweri.com/Eh1u DEAD. Domain squatter-ed
  12. http://snurl.com/1bmlco ALIVE. "Snippety snip snip". Whatever that means.
  13. http://lnk.nu/snurl.com/1g6o DEAD. Redirects link to a google.com 404.
  14. http://liteURL.com/?116051 DEAD. Domain squatter-ed. Also, my office router warns "Gateway BOTNET Filter Alert".
  15. http://linkzip.net/F/4JC ALIVE. Resolves correctly, but the service has a lovely broken image gif as a logo now.

I was quite impressed to discover that 8 out 15 still resolve the links correctly (counting the T&C violation). That means that only around half of world's shortened URLs now 404: much better than I thought! I'll revisit this post in 2020, so be sure to come back then to see how it goes - just keeping this handy 8x shortened link lying around. I've run it through all the remaining contenders, so I see no reason it won't resolve in another 5 years.