I discovered that a URL has to be less than 30 characters, or Twitter automatically creates a Tinyurl version of the URL. This, even if the entire message is less than 140 characters.
There’s no way I can create URLs that are less than 30 character and still maintain my subdomain designations. Therefore I’m not going to try, and will most likely be removing any short URL stuff here. With all the recent “one million followers” foo flah, including the breathless designation that one person achieving one million Twitter followers is equivalent to landing a man on the moon and space flight, in scientific importance, I would just as soon stick with stodgy old weblogging.
Weblogging, where no one really knows how many people are following you, most people don’t care, we can actually communicate complete thoughts, and do what we want with our URLs.
From today’s WhatWG IRC:
hsivonen: I can imagine all sorts of blog posts about evil HTML5 raining on the rev=canonical backpattery parade
svl: Mostly (from what I’ve seen) it’s been “let’s all use this en-masse, so html5 will be forced to include this”.
Of all the items in contention with the HTML5 working group, the use of rev=canonical is not high on my list. Why? Because there’s no real argument for it’s use, and a lot of good arguments against its use, and it’s just as easy to use something else.
This all came about because Twitter was built first, designed later. One of the difficulties to keeping a message to 140 characters is that URLs can take 140 characters, and more. Yet there is no URL shortening mechanism built into Twitter. Not only is there no URL shortening mechanism built into Twitter, Twitter, itself, uses another, 3rd party, service: tinyurl.com.
Now, all of a sudden, people are in a dead cold panic about using a service that may go away, leaving link rot in Twitter archives. I hate to break it to the folks so worried, but it will probably be a cold day in hell before anyone digs into Twitter archives. Most of us can’t keep up with the stream of tweets we get today, much less worry about yesterday’s or last week’s.
But there are a lot of other problems associated with using a 3rd party service. Problems such as the recent Twitter follies, otherwise known as Twitter Been Hacked, that ended up being a not particularly fun Easter Egg this weekend. When you click on a Tinyurl URL, you don’t know what you’re going to get, where you’re going, or worse, what will happen to you when you get there. Even Kierkegaard would have a problem with this leap of faith.
There’s also an issue with search engine link credit, not to mention everyone using different URL shortening services so you can’t tell if someone has referenced one of your posts in Twitter, or not. This didn’t use to be a problem, but since everyone does most of their linking in Twitter now, it gets mighty quiet in these here parts. You might think, sigh, no one likes what you’re doing, only to find out that a bunch of people have come to your party, but the party’s been moved to a different address.
So I think we can agree that third party URL services may not be the best of ideas. I, personally, like that we provide our own URL shorteners. Not only would we get the search engine credit, it should encourage the use of the same URL in Twitter, which might help us find the party we lost. Plus, wouldn’t you rather click a link that has burningbird.net in it, then one that has dfse.com? Implementation of our own short URLs should be simple in this day and age of content management systems. All we need to do is agree on a form.
Agree? Did someone say, agree?
As I wrote earlier, I’ve heard too many good arguments against rev=canonical, including the fact it’s too easy to make a typo and write rev=canonical, when we mean rel=canonical, and vice versa. In addition, rel is in HTML5, rev is not, and I’m not going to hammer a stake in the ground over rel/rev. I’m keeping my stakes for things that are important to me.
Note to HTML5 WG: she has a hammer. And stakes.
As for what attribute value to use with rel, whether it’s shortlink or shorturl or just plain short, I don’t care. I took about five minutes to implement shortlink in this space. I implemented shortlink, because this is the option currently listed in the rel attribute wiki page. However, it would only take about a minute to change to shorturl. I even added the short link to the bottom of my posts, which can be copied manually and used to paste into a Twitter post, if you’re so inclined. See, I don’t have to wait for anyone’s approval; I am empowered by Happy Typing Fingers.
Regardless of what we do, I agree with Aristotle: way too much effort on something that should be easy to decide, quick to implement, giving us time to worry about things that are important in HTML5. Things such as SVG, RDFa, and accessibility.
Other discussions related to rel/rev/tiny:
- Zeldman: Tiny URL Big Trouble
- Madness? This is HTML5!
- Schachter on URL Shorteners
- Sam Ruby: Canonical Reverse Or Wisdom Defying Shorturl
- Anne: Rev Canonical
- A quote from Ian Hickson
- Counting the ways rev=canonical hurts the web
- Les Orchard: I (used to) like rev=”canonical”
- Short and Canonical URLs
And that’s my 4424 character take on tiny URLs.
Another reason tiny URLs are getting attention is because of the evil new DiggBar. Goodness gracious, people, why on earth do you use crap like this?