Mr Speaker

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. ALIVE. Correctly resolves to
  2. ALIVE. Correctly resolves to
  3. ALIVE. Correctly resolves to
  4. Service: ? Link: DEAD. I'm not even sure how this one ever worked!
  5. DEAD. Domain squatter-ed
  6. ALIVE. "The internet's first and only sex-positive url shortener".
  7. ALIVE "Free short URLS since 1999"
  8. Service: ALIVE Link: DEAD. This looks reasonable though: "Link Disabled because of T&C violation".
  9. DEAD. Domain squatter-ed
  10. DEAD. "Wurl Redirection Service is permanently closed."
  11. DEAD. Domain squatter-ed
  12. ALIVE. "Snippety snip snip". Whatever that means.
  13. DEAD. Redirects link to a 404.
  14. DEAD. Domain squatter-ed. Also, my office router warns "Gateway BOTNET Filter Alert".
  15. 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.

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