Short and long links

Most Valuable Participant ,
Feb 03, 2009 Feb 03, 2009

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This post of mine

Claudio González, "Report spam or inappropriate posts here" #16, 3 Feb 2009 2:54 am

started an interesting discussion on the pros and cons of posting shortened links. In an attempt of trying to keep the Spam forum for what it is, I am suggestiong that any furhter discussion be moved here.

Thank you.

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Most Valuable Participant ,
Feb 05, 2009 Feb 05, 2009

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Perhaps replicating here the original discussion may promote further discussions on the subject. Main question for me: is it really unsafe to post shortened URLs?

What follows has been copied and pasted from the "Spam" thread:

Claudio González - 2:54am Feb 3, 09 PST (#16 of 33) Edited: 03-Feb-2009 at 03:02am

Link to a website offering extremely cheap software:

http://www.adobe.com/cfusion/webforums/forum/messageview.cfm?forumid=39&catid=220&threadid=1422055&enterthread=y

(sorry, I'm not using my Mac, and I don't have here the instructions for shortening links).

Addition: there message is actually duplicated...

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Neil Keller - 6:31am Feb 3, 09 PST (#17 of 33)

Claudio,

Mac or Win, to use a shortened URL, go to http://tinyurl.com, and follow the simple instructions.

Neil

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Phos±four dots - 9:45am Feb 3, 09 PST (#18 of 33)

Or:
http://metamark.net/

or:
http://tr.im/

or any of a whole bunch of other URL shortening services:
http://mashable.com/2008/01/08/url-shortening-services/

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Mike Kazlow - 9:49am Feb 3, 09 PST (#19 of 33)

I understand the desire for shortened urls, but personally I prefer the
longer true url. Anyone that would click on an encoded url in this
modern day is truly asking for a problem---even in this thread were
regulars post. We have seen enough impersonation take place that a fast
click on an encoded url can land one's computer were the sun doesn't shine.

Just my 2 cents...Mike


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John T Smith - 10:41am Feb 3, 09 PST (#20 of 33)

What Mike said... I won't click on any link that is shrouded

An infection could be as "simple" as a computer being turned into a Zombie Bot to become part of a spammer's network... or it could be spyware that steals your login and password so the program's writer is then able to clean out your bank account

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Neil Keller - 11:00am Feb 3, 09 PST (#21 of 33)

tinyurl.com offers the option of a preview.

Neil

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pjonesCET - 11:06am Feb 3, 09 PST (#22 of 33)

A problem with long URL's That Mozilla products don't seem to have, it that the URL is not recognized as something unique and therefor after 72 or 84 characters in length a linefeed or return is inserted.

With Mozilla products a URL could be the true length of pi and it stays on one line. Mozilla products (SeaMonkey/Firefox/Thunderbird) are to when they se a URL such as a Mailto: http/https:, or FTP: that is treated as a unique item and therefore ever character in the URL remains on one line and does not switch back over until if see a return or linefeed. IE is notorious for mangling URL's.

Thus the need for a system small URLs.

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Phos±four dots - 11:25am Feb 3, 09 PST (#23 of 33)

Firefox 3.x wraps long URLs.

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r_harvey - 5:06pm Feb 3, 09 PST (#24 of 33) Edited: 03-Feb-2009 at 05:10pm

Or just do it like this:

Short, descriptive text

Forum Editing Tips

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Claudio González - 5:32pm Feb 3, 09 PST (#25 of 33) Edited: 03-Feb-2009 at 05:40pm

OK, OK, I got the messages. All I was saying is that I didn't know how to do it on a Win machine.

By the way, I have noticed that the issue has some (to me) unexpected derivations which I think deserve further discussion. Should we take this to a new thread and keep this channel clean?

Addition: new thread opened here:

http://www.adobeforums.com/webx/.59b7c633

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Participant ,
Feb 05, 2009 Feb 05, 2009

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To prevent extended drift in the Spam thread, I just want to tell Claudio here that I didn't see this thread until after I posted in the other. My and Dave's quips extended the thread by two short lines, and neither were the type that would cause a host to close the thread. The five or six posted thereafter merely extended the drift (although again, little chance of causing a closure, since everything was polite and reasonable.)

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New Here ,
Feb 05, 2009 Feb 05, 2009

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> Or just do it like this:
 
Short, descriptive text
 
Forum Editing Tips

Your copy&paste will just copy the selected text, not the underlying links. The post actually read like this:

Or just do it like this:

<a href=" long URL"> Short, descriptive text</a>

Forum Editing Tips

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Most Valuable Participant ,
Feb 05, 2009 Feb 05, 2009

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Thanks, r, that's the way I use in my Mac and couldn't recall, and I think it was you who suggested it years ago. My problem was that I only wanted to have messages #16 through #25 displayed, and I don't know if I could do it using this method.

However, my biggest concern is:

is it really unsafe to post/open shortened links?

If so, how dangerous it is, and what are the real risks? I am absolutely ignorant in the matter, and what has been posted is not very clear for me.

Thank you in advance.

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Explorer ,
Feb 05, 2009 Feb 05, 2009

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I think the NNTP users get whiny when we make short text links.

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Advocate ,
Feb 05, 2009 Feb 05, 2009

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It's not dangerous to post one, Claudio, but just possibly if you click on a link without knowing where it goes, you might be at some risk from a malicious poster.

Shortened urls (such as tiny.url or metamark ones) are useful, but I am less likely to follow them than one with a brief description of what it's about as illustrated above. And even then it depends who posted it ;)

Depending on what browser you use and how it's set up, you may be able to hover over one of those links with a description in the middle and get a clue about where you're headed from the status bar, where the full url will be shown.

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Guide ,
Feb 05, 2009 Feb 05, 2009

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> And even then it depends who posted it

That is always the key, even with long URLs.

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New Here ,
Feb 05, 2009 Feb 05, 2009

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> is it really unsafe to post/open shortened links?

You mean those tinyurl-like things, where you don't have any way to know where that click will take you? I wouldn't ever follow one. They are easy to abuse and difficult to police. I think they should be banned.

I also think the software here should be smart enough to add spaces to or truncate the text portion of automatically converted links, so that pages look right on all browsers.

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Advocate ,
Feb 05, 2009 Feb 05, 2009

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Sigh. Claudio was asking about whether it's safe to *post* them, not to *follow* them.

And what, banned everywhere, or just in these forums? Are you going to run round snitching on people who use them? Or maybe you want Dorothy to get busy on that.

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Most Valuable Participant ,
Feb 05, 2009 Feb 05, 2009

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I was thinking of the short links one can post using the method in message #3 above, or any of the ones quoted in my message #1, where what the reader sees is perhaps a single descriptive word such as "here" instead of the full URL.

If it is not a recommended practice, or there will be people who won't click on the link on principle, why have I been encouraged several times to use these shortened versions?

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Advocate ,
Feb 05, 2009 Feb 05, 2009

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Deprecated, that's the one.

In some browsers, a very long url will not wrap and will stretch the table the forum is in. Some people feel it looks untidy. Some people don't mind. You get the idea :)

All methods mentioned work exactly the same on Mac or Windows systems, so do what you prefer, no need to apologise since you'll upset somebody either way.

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Advocate ,
Feb 05, 2009 Feb 05, 2009

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People have different opinions about them Claudio, that's all. It's not recommended or, er, unrecommended, except according to people's personal preferences. Some will urge you to use them, others will tell you not to. Your call :)

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New Here ,
Feb 05, 2009 Feb 05, 2009

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> Claudio was asking about whether it's safe to *post* them, not to *follow* them.

Oh, that's entirely different. So I guess it's okay to post whatever you like, just tell people not to look at it.

And it's okay for the url-x place to do whatever they like with the link and any packets they see going by, too.

> In some browsers, a very long url will not wrap and will stretch the table the forum is in. Some people feel it looks untidy. Some people don't mind.

It's not about minding or not. If you have a 200-character URL, other text on the page will also stretch to 200-character lines, which will often require you to horizontally scroll to read every single line of text. The whole handling of URL-shortening by the software here is simply ten years out of date and embarrassing; it should be a no-brainer to be able to parse this stuff and make it fit.

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Most Valuable Participant ,
Feb 05, 2009 Feb 05, 2009

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r_harvey - 8:59am Feb 5, 09 PST (#3 of 13) posted an example, which I sometimes use... if I feel like it and have time to compose the HTML code

When you hold your mouse over the "Short, descriptive text" of an actual coded link, the long URL will display so you know where it is going to take you... that does not, of course tell you what will be there when you click, but you can read the actual address

Hover your mouse over the "read subscriptions" link below... it shows you the address under the description

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Most Valuable Participant ,
Feb 05, 2009 Feb 05, 2009

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Well, I think the matter is now relatively clear for me. Let me try to summarize.

Some people don't mind long URLs, and some people do, specially if they use more than the normal width because of ancient programming. Some people like one word links and some will not click on them even with a ten feet pole. Some people will tell you how to shorten links but not click on shortened ones themselves. Some people don't know and aren't interested in shortening links, and will click on anything.

Most important for me: it can be a serious risk to click on any link, but most specially in not full URLs.

So it would seem to me that it is better not to use shortened links, at least in forums using such ancient technologies as these.

Please correct me if I have got something wrongly.

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Enthusiast ,
Feb 05, 2009 Feb 05, 2009

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>When you hold your mouse over the "Short, descriptive text" of an actual coded link, the long URL will display so you know where it is going to take you... that does not, of course tell you what will be there when you click, but you can read the actual address

you can't ALWAYS trust that john. i believe after the fiasco with the spam last year, they've banned in-line scripting here in the forum, but out on the wild wild web anywhere else (and even in your inbox, in emails you get if you allow html!), it's simple to change the status bar using the onmouseover and onmouseout events to mask the actual destination of a shortened text link.

> onMouseover="window.status='status bar text goes here';"

will work almost everywhere where inline scripting is available.

so don't trust blindly...

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New Here ,
Feb 05, 2009 Feb 05, 2009

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Perhaps the forum software should add a tooltip with the real URL. Except that can be overridden, too. Sigh. Okay...

Practice safe browsing.

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Explorer ,
Feb 05, 2009 Feb 05, 2009

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Re: short links
>They are easy to abuse and difficult to police. I think they should be banned.

My 2¢: If someone wants to spoof an address, he/she will do it, whether via tinyurl.com (which provides the option of showing a preview), or creating a plain language description as a link or even an alleged adobeforums.com/webx URL.

So if you are really afraid to click on links, don't click on any of them. But know that if the link goes somewhere inappropriate, there is a pretty good chance that bit of information will be posted here. And if it's on this side of the Forums fence, one of the hosts will probably take care of it.

Neil

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Explorer ,
Feb 05, 2009 Feb 05, 2009

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Re: short links
>They are easy to abuse and difficult to police. I think they should be banned.

My 2¢: If someone wants to spoof an address, he/she will figure out to do it, whether via tinyurl.com (which provides the option of showing a preview), or creating a plain language description as a link or even an alleged adobeforums.com/webx URL.

So if you are really afraid to click on links, don't click on any of them. But know that if the link goes somewhere inappropriate, there is a pretty good chance that bit of information will be posted here. And if it's on this side of the Forums fence, one of the hosts will probably take care of it.

Neil

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New Here ,
Feb 05, 2009 Feb 05, 2009

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It's your time.

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Advocate ,
Feb 05, 2009 Feb 05, 2009

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I'll try again. Harvey, Claudio wanted to know if he could personally run any risks if he, himself, Claudio, posted a shortened link. I was reassuring him on that.

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New Here ,
Feb 05, 2009 Feb 05, 2009

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I'll try again, Howard3. I was making a statement.

I appreciate that you were trying to find something, anything, but there's nothing to go after. You are related to Ann, aren't you?

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Guide ,
Feb 05, 2009 Feb 05, 2009

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>When you hold your mouse over the "Short, descriptive text" of an actual coded link, the long URL will display so you know where it is going to take you

It certainly does in Firefox. What sort of browser doesn't?

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Advocate ,
Feb 05, 2009 Feb 05, 2009

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In Safari and Firefox I see the full url in the status bar - unless I've made that bar invisible in Safari because I want that extra bit of the page showing.

I don't see the tooltips type information (appearing by the cursor) in my current version of either Firefox or Safari. Maybe it shows up in Explorer, I wouldn't know.

Also, it's possible to spoof that information to deceive people. I think we're maybe worrying Claudio too much though ;)

I still think it's a 'horses for courses' issue or non-issue. Some like one, some like the other, some are scared/wary of anything but a full url, some just prefer them (newsreader users???), some are using, say, an earlier version of Firefox that doesn't wrap long urls.

I never follow a link without some information as to what it is, whether in the text of the post or in the 'short descriptive text' part or sometimes it's fairly clear from the long url. That's not because I'm worried about the dangers of where I'm going, just I don't want to waste time on something I don't care to read. Some posters get their links automatically ignored by me.

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