baedert.org

On Link shorteners

14 Nov 2014

So you want a URL shortening service in Corebird? Or any other client?

No.

But let's investigate!

Ok, so by now you probably all know that a tweet can contain up to 140 characters and that's it. So, let's look at the behavior of Twitter's web interface regarding links.

Wow, that's a pretty long link, right? It is... counts ... 128 characters long! But it takes only (140 - 118) = 22 characters! Magic?

No. Twitter will automatically shorten all links. It uses its own t.co link shortener to make all links 22 or 23 characters long[1], depending on the protocol (http vs. https).

Now, if you post a tweet without using a link shortener, twitter automatically delivers the real url of the link to its clients, and makes it possible for them to show the real url (or a shortver version) to its users:

Usability-wise pretty cool. Using a link shortener totally destroys all of this. I don't care if it's goo.gl, bit.ly or tinyurl.com, it's all going to look like this:

Oh, great! Thanks for telling me that I'm about to click something totally cryptic and I have no idea what's behind that link.

Just do yourself and me a favor and say no to link shorteners.

[1] This is just the current value and can change over time.