Why use URL shorteners?

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You must have seen them. Web addresses like http://tinyurl.com/2gj2z3 which, when you click on them, take you to another web page. Why use them? Are there any risks in using them?

URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator. It’s the posh technical term for a web address. Web addresses normally take the form http://www.somesite.com/somepage.html, which is not too much of a problem. But some site names can get very long, and so can page names. The increased use of database-driven sites mean that URLs can get very long indeed, and most of them is computer gobbledygook. They are impossible to type in, if you are reading them in a print article, and often get corrupted by word-wrapping when they appear in an email or blog posting.

An URL shortener is a web service that takes a long address that’s hard to type, and turns it into a short one. You should use them in articles for print publication, classified ads, emails, blog and forum postings, anywhere there is a danger that the full address may be corrupted, or that someone may need to type the address into a browser manually.

But there is a danger in using short URLs that may make people afraid to use...

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