[ANSTHRLD] URL Shortening Considered Harmful

Coblaith Muimnech Coblaith at sbcglobal.net
Sat Apr 10 02:14:23 PDT 2010

Daniel de Lincoln commented:
> I recommend NOT using a link shortener.

Emma replied:
> . . .what prompted the suggestion to use a URL shortener was a URL  
> that linked deep into a book on google books (notorious for  
> impossible to decipher long URLs). . .

Google Books ain't so bad.  It's just. . .misunderstood.

However lengthy and convoluted the URL you see when you get to a  
Google Books page, it's always easy to recognize the book ID within  
it.  And that's all you need to get to the book's overview page.  The  
ID for the second volume of the Cadbury and York Society's 1838  
_Registrum Simonis de Sudbiria: Diocesis Londoniensis A.D.  
1369-1375_, for example, is "Jw9AAAAYAAJ".  So its overview is at  
<http://books.google.com/books?id=vJw9AAAAYAAJ>.  The ID for Mark  
Antony Lower's 1860 _Patronymica brittanica_  is "-fhtxH5vKV8C", so  
its overview is at <http://books.google.com/books?id=-fhtxH5vKV8C>.   
 From the overview page you can search for specific words in the text  
or start browsing it, and in many cases download a PDF of the book,  
so if you're referring someone to an entire work (perhaps because it  
includes many examples of a certain type of construction) that's the  
right place to send them.

Linking directly to an individual page isn't much harder.  If you  
wanted to cite the instance of "Feltewell" on page 12 of _Registrum  
Simonis de Sudbiria_ Vol. II, for instance, you'd only need to add  
"&pg=PA12" to the end of the overview page URL, generating <http:// 
books.google.com/books?id=vJw9AAAAYAAJ&pg=PA12>.  And you could point  
to any other specific page in the main body of that book just by  
replacing the "12" with the appropriate page number, or to any part  
of the prefatory material by replacing the "PA" with "PR" and the  
"12" with the number assigned to the relevant page.  (The title page,  
for instance, is numbered iii, and can be found at <http:// 

> Unless someone has another suggestion for avoiding that problem?

If the main problem is folks using five-mile Google Books URLs when  
two-inch ones would do, perhaps a "How to link to Google Books," page  
off the main ACE index would be useful.

Then again, anybody who's sending URLs that long without bothering to  
see what happens if they delete some of the variable strings might  
not be the type to read the instructions. . .

Coblaith Muimnech
<mailto:Coblaith at sbcglobal.net>

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