URL shorteners are great tools for anyone who’s ever tried to share the long address for an online resource. (Try sending someone a non-shortened link to a GoogleMapped location, for instance...) These tools are especially useful in the age of Twitter, a medium in which users are limited to 140 characters per message. For a few years the most widely-used shortener was TinyURL.com, but a couple of years ago Bit.ly overtook TinyURL in popularity on Twitter, where such tools are probably most widely used.
Earlier this summer, Bit.ly announced that all of its users may now create their own custom short domain for use with the Bit.ly URL shortening service. In other words, if you ran a website devoted to the future of scholarly communication--for example--and you wanted to create custom short URLs for sharing content from your site, you could buy the domain name
schlr.ly, sign up with Bit.ly, change a few settings, and you’d be in business. Once you’re signed into Bit.ly with the account associated with your custom domain, your shortened URLs will be preceded by
schlr.ly rather than
How to decide on a short domain name? Bit.ly recommends Domai.nr, a free service for coming up with ideas. If you type in
scholarly, for example, Domai.nr returns several suggestions for shortened versions of that word that also happen to work as domain names.
How to purchase a domain? I’ve always liked Namecheap, but Domai.nr will suggest a variety of places to buy your domain. The cost of purchasing your own domain will vary depending on what TLD your domain uses. According to one site, something ending in
.ly (a TLD created for the country of Libya), will cost $120 per year. By contrast, something ending in
.us (a TLD for the United States) is only $10 per year.
How about you? Do you have your own custom short domain? Or do you have any tips for making the most of URL shortening services? Let’s hear from you in the comments!