The all new BBC Backstage Idea Store allows the more geeky of BBC user to suggest things that could be done with BBC data and ways of improving existing BBC web services.
One such suggestion is asking whether the BBC should have its own short url service like TinyURL or bit.ly.
The rationale as defined by the poster (LoopZilla) says:
bit.ly, snurl, tinyurl are used by the BBC and many others. What doesn’t the BBC have its own short URL service?
The basic concept behind it seem to be that as the BBC increasingly uses services like Twitter (and those services become popular with the BBCs audience) and other such systems that involve creating content in a minimum of characters – making shorter urls available will become more important.
there are many a move taking place within the BBC to standardise URLs introducing PIPs and codes – BBC News and Sport already have them – /programmes and iPlayer share them and the new /music uses standard codes as well.
So the question is – would it be any stretch of the imagination for the BBC to introduce its own short url service with a BBC domain name instead of using a commercial one that could do any number of things that might bring the BBC brand into distripute without warning.
Short URL services are only of any use on micro-blogging platforms like Twitter, within Facebook updates or when sending Instant Messages.
Other than that you’d be just as well using the full URL. I mean on a blog you’d (in the post or in the comments) you could just as easily create a quick link with a word or two to send someone to a website.
On this blog I offer a TinyURL version of every story – for example the post on the new Being Human series has the full URL:
But can also be accessed here:
A comment from Derivadow on the Idea Store post suggests that short urls are NOT a good thing as they break Google Juice.
URL shortning serivces are evil, because they break the web and harm your google juice. A much better soultion is to design short urls in the first instance.
I’m not sure I understand why people don’t like URLs – they are what makes the web, services that try to replace them (eg DOI) or services that provide another level of indirection and therefore a single point of failure cause fractures in the fabric of the web. Don’t do it people!
To a certain extent that makes sense – but if the story lives in one place (at the full URL) with the short URL available using the same code it will still break the Google Juice – but does it really matter for the BBC?
In fact is Google Juice REALLY that important? Surely what is equally important is getting as many people as possible to see your content – if someone sends it to their 10 thousand friends on Twitter – that would be a big boost to anybody.
It would be interesting for the BBC to offer short url’s for some of their news stories and it shouldn’t be THAT difficult really – the code to do this isn’t exactly ground breaking.
For news you could just use the same code already in place.
So the page could exist at:
But have an alternative URL at
In fact a link to an iPlayer video could exist at:
Dot IM is the domain for Isle of Man and is already owned by the BBC and not in active use.
The examples above use a folder like letter to show what area of the site it comes from – but if the codes are really unique that shouldn’t really be necessary.
The iPlayer example could just as easily be: http://bbc.cim/boogndt1.
If the app was built properly it could also be extended to those sites without unique codes (where the journalist writes the filename). At the time you create the story you’d also create the short code by giving it an ID (that was matched against the database to make sure it wasn’t already in use.
So this story on BBC Jersey:
http://bbc.im/jcivpart – or to make it more forumulaic could be date and creation based so http://bbc.im/09010625
Oh and the short url service I set up is gtfa.eu (get the flip away you). Oh and while you’re at it – this could be a useful plugin to install: http://www.longurlplease.com/