In the spirit of a similar project at WebApps, how about cleaning up some URL shorteners from Stack Overflow?

And, as Al Everett said on Web Apps,

Note that URL shorteners in comments aren’t findable this way.

Note also that some instances should stay. Explaining how to [programatically] use an URL shortener, for instance, is okay. Use your best judgment.

As with all clean-up projects, don’t just fix this one issue. More than likely there are other issues with the post that should be addressed.

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    Burn them! Burn them all! ....Ahem I mean I agree Commented Nov 9, 2013 at 18:18
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    I agree.. I'll clean some up. But what's the purpose of such a clean-up? It is for indexing purposes? More reliable links? Or is it because shortened URLS look like spam? As for cleaning them up, do you just swap it out for the absolute URL? Commented Nov 9, 2013 at 18:28
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    This has been tried before.... Some useful links in the comments. Commented Nov 9, 2013 at 18:51
  • @JoshC naybe
    – Cole Tobin
    Commented Nov 9, 2013 at 18:56
  • Blacklist them and someone write a user script to convert them automatically (for future posts)? Commented Nov 9, 2013 at 19:45
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    @JoshC "More reliable links" - yes, that makes sense - we're already dependent on whatever site we're linking to, we don't want to be dependent on another site unnecessarily. Commented Nov 9, 2013 at 19:48
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    adf.ly should not be present at all; those are without exception all revenue-generating links. Well, of those five, four were questions about the adf.ly service; only one had inappropriate adfly links in it... Commented Nov 10, 2013 at 2:43
  • Amazing how many of these short links are used to evade the jsfiddle code restrictions. Commented Nov 10, 2013 at 19:28
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    It used to be they were used to evade LMGTFY restrictions.
    – ale
    Commented Nov 13, 2013 at 14:24
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    Possible duplicate of Let Me Flag That For You - URL Shortener Cleanup
    – Matt
    Commented Jul 21, 2018 at 23:38

2 Answers 2


Just poking at some of the results that came up for the search to t.co -

This shows that an outright ban would be a very blunt instrument to address the problem of using url shorteners in questions and answers. In my glance through of several results from the t.co search, the majority were legitimate uses (questions about) the url shortener itself and associated APIs.

I would consider a better approach would be to raise an automatic flag when a URL shortener is used (able to be handled by 10k?) that would just alert the person to its use and let them look at it to see if it is an appropriate use or an inappropriate one (that needs to get edited - and if spam, flagged).

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    None of the examples require to put the shortened link. They could be typed as plain text - there's no need to make them link in order to make a question. I don't have to put link to Oracle site in order to ask about java! Commented Nov 16, 2013 at 6:49

To fight with disease, not the symptoms, all URL shortners should be blacklisted on the whole SE network.

URL shortening makes sense when the post length is strictly limited, for example on twitter on in QR-codes, but they should not belong on any normal site. The user should know what link he clicks, the URL shortners make it impossible to proof if I will really click that link before clicking it. Does it redirect to Wikipedia? W3Schools? JSFiddle? Some advert-spammed forum that will crash my browser with 10000 flash ads?

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    I have also seen people use bit.ly to redirect to LMGTFY as well as Google itself. Commented Nov 10, 2013 at 18:06
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    I suggest that not only should all URL shorteners be blocked, but all URLs that redirect to a different page. For example, what if one uses their own domain to perform a redirect? Proof of concept: gparyani.com/stackoverflow goes to Bing.
    – user215114
    Commented Nov 10, 2013 at 20:52
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    Yeah, more than a few of us have wanted to blacklist URL shorteners for a while. Spammers are increasingly using them to hide their target websites and to work around blacklists, and they serve no functional purpose within questions or answers. Commented Nov 10, 2013 at 23:37
  • Of course we should block them. But current policy says "no". Flagging them doesn't scale, though.
    – ale
    Commented Nov 13, 2013 at 14:29
  • @gparyani That would probably break a lot of permalink systems. For example, meta.stackexchange.com/a/206813/167646 does a 301 redirect to meta.stackexchange.com/questions/205806/url-shorteners-cleanup/…
    – Stijn
    Commented Nov 13, 2013 at 14:39
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    @AlEverett A flawed policy in my opinion. I've added a bounty to that question in the hope it might be re-examined. Commented Nov 13, 2013 at 14:50

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