In a recent question a link to a site was included that had been shortened using tiny.cc.

The link was inoffensive, however you could not know that for certain without clicking through.

So I'm wondering if we should adopt the policy of discouraging such indirect links. After all, there is no need for url shortening services here as even the longest possible url can be presented as this.

If we allow these URLs, it is only a matter of time until someone abuses them to post inappropriate content.

  • I know on the main trilogy LMGTFY (and other shorteners? not sure) links have already been banned. The main reason seem to be that people don't want their domain name to be associated with asking for technical support, which is moot because as DisgruntledGoat said, that reason is bogus. Commented Aug 11, 2010 at 23:57

4 Answers 4


I completely agree, we shouldn't be linking to redirection services. Furthermore there is no need to, since there is no tangible restriction on post length. The reason given by the user in the question you refer to was bogus anyway.


System policy falls just short of forbidding them outright. They should be discouraged for the sake of clarity and users should feel free to un-shorten a link that has no reason to be shortened.

Keep in mind, there are a limited instances where shorted links are necessary. For example, try linking to anything in the Internet Archive's wayback machine or a screenshot on browsershots.org. The markdown chokes and it just won't work without an intermediary. This makes an outright ban problematic.

  • 3
    I think we could say that the justifiable use cases are few enough to be compiled into a brief bulleted list in the FAQ?
    – Tim Post
    Commented Aug 12, 2010 at 16:50
  • How about auto-correct everything but that which chokes? Commented Sep 17, 2010 at 10:07
  • The other case where a short URL could be required is in comments, even though it should happen in few cases. I am not sure there are many comments that needs 600 characters; even in the case the URL would be 300 characters, there are still 300 characters for the comment (including the characters for the link title). Just to make a comparison, after I wrote this comment, I still have 191 characters to use.
    – apaderno
    Commented Sep 10, 2011 at 13:56

How about encouraging people (if they are going to use short links) to use Google's one since it checks for malware etc.

Otherwise, maybe the SE guys can work on their own shortener since that means that they know it will last as long as they do and also you could do what Twitter do (or used to, I don't know anymore) and use Google's Safe Browsing API to check the links.

  • 1
    Even if goo.gl checks for malware etc, I still want to know where I'm going to end up, so as long as the original url/title is not shown or posted I will probably not click the link. Commented Feb 16, 2011 at 8:59

Even in the case the service that provides the short URLs check the URL for malware, using full URLs in links help who reads the post, who can decide if it's worth looking at the linked page. Supposing the link is reported in an answer, who reads the answer can see if he has already visited the page without actually visiting the page; this would not be possible if the link contains a short URL.

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