WP.me — shorten your links

shortlink

Check out this address:

http://wp.me/sf2B5-shorten

If you visit it, you’ll end up right back here. The nice thing about it is that it’s a short link, about 70% smaller than the permalink for this post. URL shorteners are nothing new, Tiny URL has been around for 100 years, but WP.me is different in a few ways.

  • WP.me is the only two-letter .me domain in the world.
  • Every blog and post on WordPress.com has a WP.me URL now.
  • These are all exposed in the <head> using rel=shortlink.
  • It doesn’t work for any URL in the world, just WP.com-hosted ones.
  • The links are permanent, they will work as long as WordPress.com is around.
  • WP.me is spam-free, because we are constantly monitoring and removing spam from WP.com.

I think a few of these points are worth following up on. While URL shorteners have had some incredible usage tied to the growth (and constraints) of Twitter, I question their sustainability as a business. This point was underscored a few days ago when a popular one, tr.im, announced they were going to shut down at the end of the year.

Their story had a happy ending in that someone came in and saved them, but it was hard not to think of what would have happened if all their links stopped redirecting one day: part of the web would go dark. I also worry that because shorteners are essentially open proxies of HTTP they’ll be exploited by spammers and malware distributors to the point where businesses, anti-phishing, and anti-virus services will be forced to block them.

WordPress links have the structure they do, which is longer, because they’re meant to be permanent and portable. (And of course friendly to search engines.) Even if you weren’t using WordPress, the links contain no arbitrary IDs or other platform-specific implementation cruft so they should be trivial to serve from any system, even if you don’t use WordPress in the future. But if all the links to you use a shorter version, that sort of defeats the point!

But as Dave Winer articulated, there’s no reason we shouldn’t have a shortener ourselves, and here we are. :) People are already using it.

How can you use it?

There is now a “Get Shortlink” button next to your permalink when you edit or write a post, and when you click it you’ll get a popup with the beautiful link already highlighted for your copy and pasting pleasure.

If you’re logged in you can also get the shortlink for any page on WordPress.com, there’s a link under the “Blog Info” menu in your admin bar.

Our thanks also go out to our friends at GoDaddy and in Montenegro for help with the domain.

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