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Chapter 4. News and Groups > Simplify Google Groups URLs

Hack 58. Simplify Google Groups URLs

If the Google Groups URLs are a little too unwieldy, the Google Groups Simplifier will cut them down to size.

Google Groups can produce some rather abominable URLs for individual posts. One message can generate a URL along the likes of this:


This is a difficult URL to save and reference—not to mention to email to a colleague.

URL-shortening services generate unique codes for each URL provided, allowing extremely long URLs to be compressed into much shorter, unique URLs. For example, Yahoo! News URLs can be terribly long, but with TinyURL, they can be shortened to something like http://tinyurl.com/2ph8.

These URLs are not private, so don't treat them as such. TinyURL whacking (http://marnanel.org/writing/tinyurl-whacking) covers making up TinyURLs to find sites other people have fed into the system.

Don't use these services unless you absolutely have to; they obscure the origin of the URL, making the URLs difficult to track for research. They do come in handy if you have to reference a page cached by Google. For example, here's a URL for a cached version of http://www.oreilly.com: While it's not as long as a typical Google Groups message URL, it's long enough to be difficult to paste into an email and otherwise distribute.

TinyURL (http://www.tinyurl.com)

Shortens URLs to 23 characters. A bookmarklet is available. The service converted the Google Groups URL at the beginning of this hack to http://tinyurl.com/180q.

MakeAShorterLink (http://www.makeashorterlink.com)

Shortens URLs to about 40 characters, which, when clicked, take the browser to gateway pages with details of where they're about to be sent, after which the browser is redirected to the desired URL. MakeAShorterLink converted that Google Groups URL to http://makeashorterlink.com/?A2FD145A1.

Shorl (http://www.shorl.com)

In addition to shortening URLs to about 35 characters, Shorl tracks click-through statistics for the generated URL. These stats can be accessed only by the person who created the Shorl URL using a password generated at the time. Shorl turned the Groups URL above into http://www.shorl.com/jasomykuprystu, with the stats page at http://shorl.com/stat.php?id=jasomykuprystu&pwd=jirafryvukomuha. Note the embedded password (pwd=jirafryvukomuha).

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