See this answer for example:

The link leads to http://jsfiddle.net/PcANy/6/ and it's quite obvious the user first tried to post with original link, got blocked due to not posting code so decided to go around the block.

What should we do about it? Some options:

  1. Crawl URL shortcuts and if leading to jsfiddle treat as such e.g. block when no code is there.
  2. Fix ourselves i.e. change the link manually and add relevant code.
  3. Leave comment to the user who did it explaining it's wrong.
  • 2 and 3 together would be a good approach. You could even put the explanation in the edit summary.
    – user200500
    Jul 24, 2013 at 7:24
  • 2
    @Asad I tend to agree but on the specific example I posted there's just too much code so not sure if it's good idea to just throw it all inside the post. Better have the author put only relevant part. Jul 24, 2013 at 7:27
  • You're right. I just tried taking my own advice but was immediately stumped as to what the relevant part of the code was. I think that's a symptom of the question being what used to be "too localised", since it's basically a code dump with several unrelated problems that the answerers are cleaning up. I'm not sure what the equivalent under the new rules is.
    – user200500
    Jul 24, 2013 at 7:28
  • 4
  • On the crawling front, isn't this happening already? It'd make it possible to use 1 to flag where 2 and 3 need to be done but I agree with the banning more. It's only the very few posts which reach the maximum number of characters where minified links might possibly be justified and I'm sure there'd be some editing you could do to them to get more characters elsewhere. Jul 24, 2013 at 7:41
  • @ben it's done only to find dead links as far as I know, they don't really check the link "final destination". Plus, it's probably a scheduled task, not done live when posting an answer. Jul 24, 2013 at 7:43
  • Yes @ShaWizDowArd, so you could theoretically use it to auto-flag them/create a queue etc (assuming that you did extended it to find the final destination). Jul 24, 2013 at 7:47
  • @ben up to the dev team I guess. :-) Jul 24, 2013 at 7:49

2 Answers 2


A better option:

     4. Ban obfuscated minified links outright.

They've already become a spammer's best friend, and they're otherwise a completely user-hostile experience. Is it nuts if I want to know where the link I'm clicking is going to take me before I go there?

In addition to abuse, here are some other justifications for banning shortened URLs:

  1. Abuse (oh, did I already mention that?).
  2. Pointless. This isn't Twitter, you have plenty of characters to post an actual link.
  3. Linkrot, when the services inevitably shut down.
  4. Privacy, because one of the advantages of these services—tracking user behavior—can just as easily be seen as a disadvantage.
  5. Standing on the shoulders of giants: Yahoo Answers and Wikipedia already ban the use of shortened URLs. What better examples could we have?
  • Well in this case it's a dupe of this one, isn't it? Maybe worth bumping that other request and hope for the best now that Jeff is not in position of super power anymore. Jul 24, 2013 at 7:37
  • Some of them are kinda useful, though. At least in comments. Like this one: tinyurl.com/so-hints
    – Matsemann
    Jul 24, 2013 at 7:41
  • 5
    @Matsemann The site that URL points to is useful. The shortened URL is not particularly useful. If typing is the problem, get this. Jul 24, 2013 at 7:42
  • 2
    Wait, Yahoo Answers bans them? I'm already sold.
    – slhck
    Jul 24, 2013 at 7:43
  • @CodyGray No, the URL is useful. It's easy to remember. An URL I can remember vs. having to go through the trouble of installing a script into every browser I use.. I know what I prefer. Just because you disagree doesn't make me wrong.
    – Matsemann
    Jul 24, 2013 at 7:55
  • 1
    I guess you know, but just in case: often URL shorteners provide a way to get the full URL (and some more details), like by appending a +. (Google needs one to be logged in with a random account though. And still then, I very much agree you shouldn't have to do that.) And, @ShaWizDowArd, you just couldn't resist posting a meaningless URL in your first comment? ;-)
    – Arjan
    Jul 24, 2013 at 8:12
  • 3
    For a while, I was against banning link shorteners. Then I saw the number of times people used it to work around our spam blocks, our restrictions on LMGTFY links, etc. I think it's time for shortened links to go. Jul 24, 2013 at 14:15
  • I use short links to track where the people come from when I post a link to a project in my github repository, and the interest on the repository I posted. Now with the short link ban I can't know
    – jcesar
    Sep 2, 2013 at 8:28
  • @jcesar I would not visit your GitHub repository if you had obscured it with a short link. How do you track that? Sep 3, 2013 at 4:35
  • But a lot of people don't think like you, I have a link with 1200 visits, and another with 700, most of them from stackoverflow. If you really need it, you'll visit the link.
    – jcesar
    Sep 3, 2013 at 10:27

Whatever we do, it won't stop people trying to get around the system. I've seen people...

  • put the links in a code block
  • delinkify the links (like this: jsfiddle.net/abcdef)
  • use URL shorteners
  • add a random code block somewhere else where it really shouldn't be
  • make their entire post code
  • post the fiddle in a comment
  • put the fiddle in the title
  • etc...

I do agree that banning URL shorteners is a good idea, but no matter what we do, there will still be workarounds. The best thing to do is either

  • edit the post with the code (preferred)
  • downvote and leave a comment explaining why the rule exists that you will remove the downvote once they post their code (not preferred, do this if they have TONS of code in the fiddle and you have no idea which code is relevant)

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