Helpful Thing of the Day: Putting the "useful" into URLs

holepunch TinyURL is great for making big-ass emails shorter, no question. I've used it regularly for a couple of years now, and it's reliable and great.

But while it takes care of overly long URLs, it doesn't do it very gracefully. Those of us who don't understand the numerous hideous things that can happen upon clicking a blind link don't do much to assuage the fears of those who do.

Then again, there are geniuses like my new best friend, the adorable, kind and wildly talented Doug Stern, who totally get it. Since Doug is a master self-promoter (i.e., he does it well and for the right reasons) I don't think he'll mind if I share his email sig (it's a screenshot, kids, so don't make yourself batty trying to click on things):

doug stern

When I saw that list of clean, orderly URLs at the bottom of his sig, I almost shat myself. While I love my newsletter service provider, I hate being their free ad everywhere I go; even more, I loathe the stupid URL I got. (I think they offer some way of creating permalinks for your newsletter archives on your own site, but if there's a way to put it on a subpage of one's own site, I've yet to find it.)

Anyway, I immediately did some quick Googling and interwebbery, and found the magic site that will cure all of your wonky permalink woes, Metamark. Not only does it take a big-ass URL and shorten it into a nice, clean redirect--it will add the short, vanity extension of your choice. Behold, my original big-ass, gibberish newsletter signup link from Emma:

Meh. And bleh.

Now feast your eyes on its brief and elegant cousin:

Note to the extremely nervous: nothing is infallible. Metamark was upfront about their failing, which 86'd a number of URL redirects in early June.

But since my main use for these will be visible URLs--i.e., the kind that grace my email sig rather than the kind that hide, invisible, embedded in HTML on a website (hover over both of the above to see what I mean)--I don't much care. Email's shelf life is such that I don't think a lot of people will be digging through theirs to find that one link I included to my newsletter signup.

And in the short term, it sure is pretty...

xxx c