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Googling for programming answers will typically show friendly links to SO questions. For example, googling "freely available programming books" shows this as the top answer:

stackoverflow.com/questions/194812/list-of-freely-available-programming-books

However, if I use the "link" option in the question, it provides a "short permalink to this question", which looks like this:

stackoverflow.com/q/194812/257550

The use of the word "permalink" in the description has me wondering, are friendly links not permanent?

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1 Answer 1

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Both links you provided will permanently link to the post. The differences are:

  • The second tacks on your user ID (257550) on the end, so the site knows when people follow your link. If you refer enough people to a question you can pick up some badges (Announcer, Booster, Publicist)
  • The second uses q instead of questions in case you're going to tweet it and you need the space. I suppose it also helps disambiguate the ID at the end, since there could be a post titled "257550"
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1  
Minimum title length is 15 chars, so a number at the end will always be (well, will very likely always be) an ID. –  Jon Seigel May 22 '11 at 16:09
    
The ID at the end could be intended as an answer ID though, so there's that too (I guess, I'm not sure what it does when the q form can be legitimately interpreted both ways). –  Tim Stone May 22 '11 at 16:36
    
@Tim I think /q is technically unsupported for answers, but you can do it manually with /q/answer_id. I don't think appending your user ID will do anything with those though –  Michael Mrozek May 22 '11 at 17:15
    
Yeah, I had thought that /q/{question_id}/{answer_id} would redirect you to the answer if the answer ID wasn't a valid user ID, but I think that's wrong, and it's stupid on my part anyway since /q/{answer_id} would achieve the desired behaviour with less characters. –  Tim Stone May 22 '11 at 17:25
    
Thanks for the clarification. Until today I assumed both links were permanent, but always wondered, why anyone would use the shorter form? Since it doesn't carry any context, unless you are character limited like twitter, it always seemed like the worse choice to me. The answer seems to be -- because it tracks your user ID. –  Answerbot May 22 '11 at 17:49

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