Shortlinks, like bit.ly and others, seem to be everywhere in today’s social networks and looking at Twitter or the way some websites are built, or if you just need a short and easy to remember link they do have their uses. Every day I see a new short link service pop up I had never heard about before.Their basic setup and behavior is always the same: provide a link made up of a domain and a (more or less) cryptic string of characters, to replace a long and difficult to remember link to where you want the user to go. So far I am almost fine with this (more later), but the way the user is redirected after clicking such a short link is a completely different story! Some of these services just redirect me somewhere without telling me where they are taking me. Some show me the destination, but leave me no choice. Others always ask for confirmation. But why don’t they leave the choice to me, the user?
After asking myself this question for the umptiest time, I decided to write my own short link service:
ToURL@ – Redirection with an Attitude (http://tourl.at)
Why for heaven’s sake another short link service?? Well ToURL gives more options to all involved parties: the creator can choose the default method of redirection, and the user can choose his preferred way of being redirected (overriding the default). The first time a user accesses a ToURL@-short-link he is given a choice how he would like to be redirected in the future. The user can either choose to always accept the default set by the link creator or he can choose his/her preferred method of redirection. This choice is saved by setting a cookie (no login required and no user data is saved). This choice can always be reconsidered by either visiting the ToURL-site, or by deleting the cookie.
At the same time I have tried to add some security by disallowing shortlinking to other (known) short link services, which is commonly used by malicious webpages to hide the real destination more effectively. There is also the possibility to prevent shortlinking to URLs with certain words in them or known malicious pages by adding them to a blacklist. This feature is still under development in parts!
So if you want more choice in redirecting and being redirected I invite you to visit ToURL@ at http://www.tourl.at. Please let me know if you have any problems or suggestions with the site!