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Google Unveils goo.gl URL Shortening Service 242

Posted by timothy
from the boiling-a-frog-in-google dept.
eldavojohn writes "The Sultan of Search is unveiling a new service (currently only available for Google Toolbar and Feedburner) that will tackle a very old problem usually solved by bit.ly or tinyurl — URL shortening. Now, we've heard cries for sanity to prevent potential issues (like what if tr.im had shut down and broken millions of links?) but with one of the goliaths of the industry jumping in the ring it looks like URL shortening is here to stay. And a quick note for people who enjoy privacy, goo.gl explicitly states: 'Please note that Google may choose to publicly display aggregate and non-personally identifiable statistics about particular shortened links, such as the number of end user clicks.' You didn't think Google was going to sit back and let bit.ly harvest juicy data on 2.1 billion links that were clicked in November without trying to corner some of that action to make their ad suggestions more accurate, did you?" Google's shortening service is called Goo.gl.
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Google Unveils goo.gl URL Shortening Service

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Animal or vegetal shortening?

  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @09:51AM (#30443298) Homepage Journal
    I, for one, will be avoiding this. Existing services work fine and this is one more way Google is headed towards info omniscience.
    • by Bottles (1672000) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @09:56AM (#30443350)

      i 4 1 wl b avoiding ths. XStng sRvcs wRk fine & this is 1 mr way goo.gl headed 2wrds Nfo omnisns

      There! Shortened that for you!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by flowsnake (1051494)
      Indeed. I'm not giving up my SoCuteUrl [socuteurl.com]; the links come out a bit longer, but oh so lovely! For example, who would not prefer http://www.socuteurl.com/coozzypumpkins [socuteurl.com] over http://www.ExpertSexChange.com [expertsexchange.com]?
    • by Xest (935314)

      When I had the misfortunate of using one the other day it chucked up a page telling me the service was busy and to try again later.

      Quite how popping up a page stating the service was busy is any easier than just issuing a redirect to the required site I don't really know, but it did, and it was stupid as there was no way to ascertain the underlying URL it was meant to redirect to from the stupid shortened URL I clicked.

      At least with Google it's a pretty safe bet they'll be able to handle the traffic, and th

      • Re:They do? (Score:5, Informative)

        by petermgreen (876956) <plugwash@p10l[ ].net ['ink' in gap]> on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @10:47AM (#30444012) Homepage

        Quite how popping up a page stating the service was busy is any easier than just issuing a redirect to the required site I don't really know
        Issuing a redirect to the right place requires access to the database, issueing an error message does not.

        P.S. if you are running a website please help reduce the need for url shorteners by using sensible urls.

        • by Xest (935314)

          Fair point, but god knows what kind of shitty hardware they're running on if they can't even manage single database queries for a simple 1 to 1 relationship?

          Is a database even the right solution here in the first place though? 301 redirects should be handled by the webserver without need for a database no? Assuming these URLs are designed to be held indefinitely then it really should just be a case of writing once, and reading in future. I suppose with the amount of URLs they handle though it's not as simpl

      • Quite how popping up a page stating the service was busy is any easier than just issuing a redirect to the required site I don't really know, but it did, and it was stupid as there was no way to ascertain the underlying URL it was meant to redirect to from the stupid shortened URL I clicked.

        Static page vs. database lookup. The latter will take a lot more resources.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by s1id3r0 (1666217)
      Although I can't disagree with your thesis, as I see the same trend, the question that I think we need to ask is how much of a concern it really is. I am far more concerned about Microsoft dominating the market in the same manner. I am happy to see Google put major pressure on Microsoft as they come out with and link multiple projects into a "one stop domain". Personally I support open software, and I am happy to see Google growing the open source model ever further with each new product or feature.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by m1xram (1595991)
      Any of these services has the potential to provide tracking on your usage of the web if they really catch on. Sometimes a bit of paranoia isn't a bad thing.
    • That's the nice thing about freedom of choice. You can use the ones you would like to use. I for one will probably use it just for the sole reason Google won't go out of business anytime soon and I don't use url shortening for anything questionable so I don't care if they know. The only group I'd really be concerned with snooping at my data is the government and they can get that data from any one of those services.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by at_slashdot (674436)

      In a way is better to have one company I trust know all about my digital life than spread out that info to more companies.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ShakaUVM (157947)

      >>I, for one, will be avoiding this. Existing services work fine and this is one more way Google is headed towards info omniscience.

      If a friend emails a Google shortened URL to you, you'll avoid clicking on it?

      BUT HOW WILL YOU KNOW IF IT'S A RICKROLL OR GOATSE LINK?

      The not-knowing will drive you slowly insane.

  • by Yvan256 (722131) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @09:52AM (#30443306) Homepage Journal

    "Google URL Shortener is currently available for Google products and not for broader consumer use."

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "Google URL Shortener is currently available for Google products and not for broader consumer use."

      That would be in the first sentence of the summary (don't worry, it's only natural not to RTFS):

      (currently only available for Google Toolbar and Feedburner)

    • This is what allows it ( maybe ) to jive with google's 'Do no evil' motto. Since the scope is limited to google products, then it doesn't break the web at large. Without google there are no google products anyway, so who cares if they are full of shortened URLs. URL shortening is, in general, evil.
      • Why is URL shortening evil, but the DNS system not? Its not as if any URL has to be descriptive of the content you will be viewing...
  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Yvan256 (722131) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @09:55AM (#30443332) Homepage Journal

    Aside from twitter and SMS which both have self-imposed limits, what's the point of these things?!

    • I agree. I also use a perl script to expand tinyurls to their full form in IRC and IM logfiles. Why introduce another (possibly weak) link into the, well, link chain?
    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @10:00AM (#30443402)

      Here's your answer: http://bit.ly/4kb77v [bit.ly]

      • by OzPeter (195038)

        Here's your answer: http://bit.ly/4kb77v [bit.ly]

        Bastard!

      • Re:Why? (Score:5, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @10:31AM (#30443802)

        Rick rolling is nothing compared to that time someone posted a url to the FBI site on Slashdot.

        Url had a GET message confessing to having a hard drive full of CP, and it got modded +5 funny.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Rick rolling is nothing compared to that time someone posted a url to the FBI site on Slashdot.

          Url had a GET message confessing to having a hard drive full of CP, and it got modded +5 funny.

          Do you have a link to the post?

    • by SpeedyDX (1014595)

      You seem to ask an awfully odd question, sir. Those purposes (and other related purposes, such as Facebook status updates, etc.) are precisely the main point of these services!

      "Aside from watching TV and playing video games, what's the point of a TV?!?"

      "Aside from being able to read many books without having to physically carry them all around, what's the point of the Nook?!?!!??"

      • Oh I can tell you what the difference is!

        The point of a TV is watching TV and video games. And thats what a usual TV-Set does perfectly well!

        And if the point of facebook status and twitter is to promote links, and you can't do that without some vulnerable external service, the the whole concept of that is f**ing broken!!

        Considering this, let me cortrect your analogies:

        "Aside from watching TV and playing video games, what's the point of a TV with a screen painted black?!?"
        "Aside from being able to read many

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      Ones like TinyURL, that let you specify a not-yet-used address, can be handy for making memorable links: http://tinyurl.com/whytinyurl [tinyurl.com]

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Malc (1751)

      I find them highly irritating because they do hide the real URL. I'd much rather have multiple copy and pastes with a long URL that has been broken across multiple lines. Since moving from text only email and giving up on the spamfest Usenet though, I can't say long URLs have really been much of a problem for me.

      • by IBBoard (1128019)

        That's why I'm glad I use ChromeMUSE in Chromium [google.com] (one of my work-mates pointed me to it). I don't use the shortening part of it, but the lengthening part (which you have to enable) is useful. Being Javascript, I even hacked in this extra little patch (around line 17, just after the "if response is OK") to see the real URLs on the page instead of the Bitly/etc ones :)

        if (a.innerText == a.href)
        {

    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Tim C (15259) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @10:20AM (#30443632)

      They're a lot easier to read out over the phone, for one - especially if you're deep linking into a site. Seen the URL that points to this article, for instance?

      • by Yvan256 (722131)

        Using a shortening service because Slashdot has crappy URLs doesn't fix the root of the problem.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by bill_mcgonigle (4333) *

          Using a shortening service because Slashdot has crappy URLs doesn't fix the root of the problem.

          Yet it's entirely appropriate since he doesn't control Slashdot nor the myriad sites to which the solution can be generalized.

          Even if Slashdot added a 'short URL link' feature for people to read over the phone, most people wouldn't know how to find it - there's no standard mechanism to expose or relate such a thing.

          • by IBBoard (1128019)

            What we need are some microformats [wikipedia.org] that all browsers support. If we make one for "shortened URL", how long do you think it'll take to make it as a feature in IE? :D

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DragonWriter (970822)

        They're a lot easier to read out over the phone, for one - especially if you're deep linking into a site.

        Why would I want to read a URL over the phone? If I'm communicating a URL to someone for deep linking into a site, then the one thing I can be pretty sure of (since, if I wasn't, I'd have no reason to communicate the URL) is that the person has internet access. Given that, there are a lot better ways of getting them the URL then reading it to them--such as email. Even if I want to use the telephone to n

    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by thetoadwarrior (1268702) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @11:40AM (#30444708) Homepage
      How else are you going to send people to goatse or a rickroll?
  • by VortexCortex (1117377) <VortexCortexNO@S ... t-retrograde.com> on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @09:57AM (#30443370)

    I, for one, will not be satisfied until my URLs are compressed as a super positions of themselves and stored in qubits.

    Perhaps Google can use one of their quantum computers to appease me.

  • Nothing beats http://tweak.tk/ [tweak.tk] which provides new domain names as shortened URLs!

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by hattig (47930)

      My URL shortening system is called JFGI (or JFBI if you prefer Bing).

      Four characters. Beat that!

      Btw, I have a submarine patent on the three characters FGI, and also the two character GI, which is more polite, but doesn't have the same level of exasperation with the recipient.

      The big win is that you can safely use the above system at work, whereas because shortened URLs are inherently masking the destination, you cannot trust such a link, and thus must therefore never click on it in a work place, in case som

    • http://3.ly/uXl [3.ly]
      http://a2uhu.tk [a2uhu.tk]

      Same length. (Both point to http://www.slashdot.org [slashdot.org].)

  • by geekmux (1040042) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @10:04AM (#30443460)

    In the days(read decades) of "cut and paste", I really fail to see the real need for URL shortening, other than maybe sending a nice link to a goatse mirror to an unaware "friend" at work.

    Sorry, it's kitschy at best. And no, it doesn't "unclutter" jack shit. Learn to insert a damn hyperlink within your text already(yet another decade-old solution to this non-problem). Most input these days is HTML friendly anyway.

    • by zlogic (892404)

      Long links in twitter messages significantly reduce the amount of available characters.

      • by OzPeter (195038) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @10:16AM (#30443588)

        Long links in twitter messages significantly reduce the amount of available characters.

        Google is really going to look foolish when my new, extensible length twitter service comes out. This new service will allow arbitrary length messages and thus totally eliminate the need to link shortening.

        Although I haven't yet named my new service, I am leaning towards calling it "eMail", but I need to check if that name has already been taken.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by geekmux (1040042)

        Long links in twitter messages significantly reduce the amount of available characters.

        Root cause analysis. This is a "solution" to a problem that shouldn't exist anyway. Use hyperlinks. Others have only been doing it for years now.

    • by unity (1740) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @10:14AM (#30443570)
      Yeah, I can't remember the last time I clicked on one of those "shortened" urls. I just skip over them. I prefer to know where I'm going.
    • by Tim C (15259)

      I wouldn't use them in email or similar, but ignoring the use in SMS or on Twitter, they're a damn sight easier to dictate over the phone.

    • by kalirion (728907)

      I use them to give links over the phone to people I don't share my non-landline contact information with, you insensitive clod!

    • In the days(read decades) of "cut and paste", I really fail to see the real need for URL shortening, other than maybe sending a nice link to a goatse mirror to an unaware "friend" at work.

      I don't have a mouse you insensitive clod!

      and yes. I had to type your quote

  • Perhaps I'm being obtuse, but
    Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:1.9.1.5) Gecko/20091105 Remi/fc8 Firefox/3.5.5 GTB6
    +
    Google toolbar Version 6.1.20091119L

    I'm not seeing this functionality anywhere in the toolbar
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @10:06AM (#30443482)

    People are obsessed with shortening as much as possible, but I like meaningful URLs that tell me about the contents that's linked to.

    http://decenturl.com/ does the job perfectly: http://search.slashdot.decenturl.com/google-url-shortening-service

  • by Bill Dimm (463823) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @10:07AM (#30443490) Homepage

    Websites wouldn't be tempted to use such long URLs if search engines would stop using the URL (other than the domain name) as a factor in ranking the search results. How many CMSs now stuff an entire article title into the URL purely for SEO purposes? Is that stuff in the URL really telling the search engine anything that can't be found in the <title> or <h1> tags?

    • by IBBoard (1128019)

      That assumes that someone knows how to use HTML and what and tags are for. Given the quality of a lot of content these days (which is down-hill in a different way to early 2000 and the 90s!) I'd be surprised if they did!

    • by marcansoft (727665) <hector @ m a r c a n s o f t.com> on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @10:30AM (#30443764) Homepage

      It's not just for SEO purposes. Stuffing the article title into the URL is also informative for those who read the URL. Of course, that belongs inside the tag linking to it, but few formats (besides plain HTML) support anchor text that differs from the link (especially all the text-based mediums that have had hyperlinking shoehorned in by using automatic linkification).

      • by Bill Dimm (463823)

        So, to summarize, people don't normally see these obnoxiously long URLs in HTML because of anchor text, and in other formats where a URL must be displayed (like a printed magazine article), people don't see the obnoxiously long URLs because services like bit.ly are used to shorten them. So, what was the point of the long URLs, other than SEO, again?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by bickerdyke (670000)

      thats not only for search engines.

      It's really handy to see where a link is going!

      • by Bill Dimm (463823)

        It's really handy to see where a link is going!

        Except that you don't see where it is going if the URL is so obnoxiously long that people feel compelled to use bit.ly and other shortening services. If people use bit.ly, not only do you not see the article title that is stuffed in the URL, you don't even see the domain name. You don't know whether you are being sent to cio.com or goatse.cx.

    • by Yvan256 (722131) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @10:36AM (#30443856) Homepage Journal

      Long URLs also (should) let us know what's behind a link before we actually click on it.

      www.apple.com/ipod/
      www.microsoft.com/office/
      www.nintendo.com/wii/
      and so on...

      If you have garbage such as "&id=54353" in your non-search URLs, you're doing it wrong.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by merreborn (853723)

      Good URIs [w3.org] are just a good idea, period. That's not advice from some shady SEO scumbag, either. That's tim berners-lee and the w3c.

      Surely:

      http://example.com/articles/man-bites-dog [example.com]

      is vastly superior from the user's point of view to:

      http://example.com/cgi-bin/article.php3?PHPSESSID=0983sdf0er888fsd&article_id=73522 [example.com]

      Which one are you going to remember? Which one would you rather read over the phone?

  • "Google URL Shortener is currently available for Google products and not for broader consumer use."

    So I guess bit.ly still wins?

  • by Zarf (5735) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @10:11AM (#30443534) Journal

    This seemed utterly rubbish to me until I put on my Google Goggles. Now everything looks awesome.

  • For real short URLs, we should just give every machine a NUMBER instead of a .. oh wait..
  • by Ruvim (889012) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @10:28AM (#30443744)
    So, that's how Google Gibraltar looks like... It's funny how the official meaning of TLD is always totally ignored. Case in point: as many others, White House uses bit.ly for its URL shortening on White House Tweeter posts... never mind that .ly TLD is assigned to Libya.
  • Five letters? Pah. Too long, didn’t click! ;)

  • Whether or not you use or like URL shorteners, the fact is, a lot of them are used. The Google name behind this one will give it staying power.

    Sucks though, as I have a shortener in staging right now that I was about to launch to try and solve the problem of stability. Oh well.

  • With browsers having built in security to tell me if some website harbors malware upon accessing it, why do people through this concept out the window and click on any tiny url that could potentially send them to goat.sx. Seems that this defeats the purpose of me being able to see where the link goes before clicking on it.

  • Most of the time I cross such a shortened url, I want to see the full url before the redirect is completed. Tinyurl's preview option [tinyurl.com] let me do that, without an account/login, it just saves the setting in a cookie.

    Bit.ly has a Firefox plugin [bit.ly] to preview urls, but I don't want to install a browser plugin for each service. And what if I'm using another browser?

    I'm hoping Google will implement something similar to Tinyurl's system.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by IBBoard (1128019)

      There are common alternatives, someone just needs to write the plugin. ChromeMUSE [google.com] (which I patched an improvement for [slashdot.org] for my own use) uses LongURL.org to do its replacement. If you want to stick with Firefox then all you need is someone to write a wrapper around that (and for LongURL.org to keep updating their list of supported sites with all of these other sites people make).

  • Google had to pay millions of dollars to game development studio, 2D Boy to purchase the Official Greenland homepage for World of Goo

...when fits of creativity run strong, more than one programmer or writer has been known to abandon the desktop for the more spacious floor. - Fred Brooks, Jr.

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