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Everything on Amazon has a permalink.

Not many people know about this, and so many questions and answers are littered with complicated Amazon URLs which are probably more fragile than the permalinks that Amazon provides.

Example

Let's say for example I want to link you to the DVD "The Blind Side" on Amazon. I can give you the following mess of a link, copied directly from my address bar:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002VECM6S/ref=s9_pop_gw_ir02?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-4&pf_rd_r=17YV54QPR031ACGK3KDA&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=490157971&pf_rd_i=507846

Or, at the bottom of the right sidebar, there is a little set of share links that looks like this:

Share (envelope) (facebook) (twitter)

Do you see it? If you click "Share" or the envelope, you are provided with a much nicer URL:

http://amzn.com/B002VECM6S

Not only does the URL look nicer, but Amazon calls it a "Permalink", leading me to believe that this link is more permanent than the first link. Furthermore, one or more of the parameters in the first link might have data that could identify the computer of the person who copied the URL, whereas the amzn.com link seems to be universal. Presumably, the part after the slash is some internal ID number linked to that DVD, and presumably, that ID will not change.

Feature Request

I propose a feature request, wherein Stack Overflow (and related sites) will automatically detect Amazon links and replace them by their corresponding permalinks, in an attempt to prolong the life of these links. Furthermore, since existing questions and answers are already littered with these messy links, if this system should be put in, it should scan existing questions & answers for the messy links and convert them.

A system like this is already in place; certain links are converted into sponsor links automatically. So I think it would be equally possible to convert messy Amazon links into the short Amzn.com permalinks, to help prevent broken links.

share|improve this question
1  
Can you do affiliate links with the permalinks? –  Kyle Cronin Mar 29 '10 at 0:21
3  
Actually if you read this SO question by Jeff Atwood himself (meta.stackexchange.com/questions/26964/…), this was being done for a while, but has since been removed, "since despite our best efforts they don't perform well for our audience and cannot be made to perform well." –  Ricket Mar 29 '10 at 0:23
    
He never explained, but I don't think "perform" was talking about CPU time or anything like that; so I think this feature would be well worth the work spent to implement it. I'm all for permalinks, and ever since I discovered Amazon's permalinks, I've made sure to use them everywhere I link to Amazon. The idea of a link that is specifically labeled as permanent is great, since links are breaking all the time. –  Ricket Mar 29 '10 at 0:24
    
he was talking about something else: for a while, there was an ad program on SO where the top programming books would be displayed (with affiliate links) in the normal ad space. This was a fiasco. The affiliate links suggested in that post are very much still active (and already use a shortened form of the URL as-posted). –  Shog9 Mar 29 '10 at 14:41
    
Perhaps a spinoff of this question now should be a bug report: amzn.com permalinks don't expand to amazon.com SO affiliate links. :) –  Ricket Mar 29 '10 at 14:46

4 Answers 4

Better example:

Original link: http://www.amazon.com/Take-Chance-Jeff-Atwood/dp/B000ND6UTO/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1269822384&sr=8-5

Permalink: http://amzn.com/B000ND6UTO

amazon


But seriously: according to Amazon's affiliates blog, the format to use is: http://www.amazon.com/dp/<itemnumber>?tag=YOUR_ID_HERE which isn't that messy, really. The item number is always the string of characters after the /dp/.

share|improve this answer
    
Nice. Can anyone find a permalink that spells something? :-D –  Ricket Mar 29 '10 at 0:29
3  
best album ever, clearly –  Jeff Atwood Mar 29 '10 at 1:01

It would have to work with the affiliate program, or we can't use it.

Auto-Inserting Stack Overflow affiliate into all Amazon book links
Would it be a problem if all Amazon links were converted to affiliate links?

share|improve this answer
    
Oh? I thought you ended that; at the top of your question you put "We have officially discontinued the Amazon book affiliate remnant ads, since despite our best efforts they don't perform well for our audience and cannot be made to perform well." –  Ricket Mar 29 '10 at 0:26
3  
links != ads -- see blog.stackoverflow.com/2009/11/… –  Jeff Atwood Mar 29 '10 at 0:57
    
Gotcha. Nevermind then, it looks like this will not work and Jared seems to have spelled out the situation nicely in his edit at the bottom of his answer. :) –  Ricket Mar 29 '10 at 14:45

or you can just use the first part of the link, which is all that is required to identify the product - in your example, http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002VECM6S is sufficient

share|improve this answer
    
In Jared Harley's example URL, this process is slightly tougher due to the URL also including "Take-Chance-Jeff-Atwood" - but this is true. –  Ricket Mar 29 '10 at 0:31

It's not an actual permalink since it redirects you to the correct page when you click it. Real permalinks don't need to go get dressed when someone comes over to see them.

Reason why they're showing you that amzn.com domain is for the type-lazy and character restrictive services, such as Twitter, where letters, numbers and glyphs are at a premium.

In those cases, the shortest URLs possible are rampant/most desirable.

share|improve this answer
    
Just because it redirects doesn't mean it's not permanent. I am assuming that, should Amazon revamp their website and completely change their URLs, they would change the amzn.com service to continue to redirect correctly according to the new URLs. In this way, they are indeed permalinks. –  Ricket Mar 29 '10 at 0:27
    
However you are right, if this were just a generic link-shortening service like bit.ly, then it would not be permalinks. But since amzn.com is maintained by Amazon, and since they call it a Permalink, I believe the above is the case. –  Ricket Mar 29 '10 at 0:27

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