You know those URL shortening services like bit.ly? They’re convenient, but there’s a downside. Like a lot of Web users, I look at the URL to get a clue of what the link is about and whether the host is a site I want to visit or avoid. If someone uses a link like bit.ly/123abc or is.gd/zYxWv, you have no idea where you’re going to end up, unless the poster gives some context explaining things. That context is lacking more often than not. All you’ll get is “This is a cool thing!” and a truncated URL. Maybe I’m supposed to think “So-and-so would never steer me wrong, let’s click!” but it’s not even just that. Sometimes I want to know if I’m going to get a YouTube video, because sometimes I don’t want one.
It’s understandable on Twitter, though still a concern to me. But people copy that URL to use elsewhere — which is understandable, because that’s why the short URL services were created, really. Yet there’s still no context, no way to know where the link is going, just a implication of “Trust me!” After all the viruses and worms and incessant advertising I just can’t blindly click, even if I know the person, without a little bit of trepidation.