Microsoft in Need of a URL Shortener

The apparent evilness of URL shorteners seems to be hot news at the moment. Some say they are the "herpes of the web", while others simply that they suck.

Although I can see the argument against them I am kind of indifferent to them. That said, I think they are useful when used in print. Long URLs just don't work in print media. The first time I saw one it used TinyURL.com and was in Personal Computer World magazine. Why people use them in the virtual world I'm not sure.

Anyway, the reason I mention them is because Microsoft sent me something in the post last week that made me laugh. See if you can see what in the shot below:


The bit that made me laugh wasn't the URL itself but the little note below it apologising for how long it is.

I can't imagine anybody in their right mind has typed the whole thing in to a browser and completed the survey. Surely!? After all, what's in it for us?

Maybe Microsoft didn't like the idea of using a third party service to provide a shortened URL, but then they're using surveymonkey.com for the survey so it can't be that. Lord knows what they were thinking pasting that URL!


  1. That URL is rather amusing, especially for something like a survey that they don't appear to be offering anything for taking. I would think brand wise it would be a good decision for them to just whip up redirects and form their own url shortening. Then you don't even get the excuse of not wanting to use a third party service :P


  2. I received the same mail, and had the same reaction.

    If they can't even supply a decent url, I don't bother doing the survey.

  3. ULR shortening services get used quite a lot and may be seeing an increase in popularity for one reason: social networking and the relatively use of short and frequent updates. A shortened URL works much better in Twitter and Facebook updates.

    This then gets people familiar with them and liking them, etc.

    Catch up people. I jest. But I suspect that is one influence on the increased awareness of them.

  4. Hang on - you work with IBM products, so you've used the IBM website, and you consider THAT a long URL?

  5. We have created our own internal tinyURL database which we feed a URL to on the back end and then include the short URL in the emails. Once the LOOOONG notes URL hits the exchange server it is broken up. Pain in my butt it is (and always has been).

    I was reading the other day about how the likes of FlickR and others are using rev="canonical" to achieve the same thing



    • avatar
    • PaulG
    • Tue 21 Apr 2009 08:22 AM

    What if that URL is unique to the person it was sent to? I appreciate having it smaller is ideal for the user, but perhaps that might explain why it was done?

  6. Classic! Our survey builder doesn't generate links like that :o)

    • avatar
    • bill e
    • Tue 21 Apr 2009 08:56 AM

    Lol. That's one of the common activities that we've done with our website - putting in easy to remember URLs for major parts of the website.

    • avatar
    • Chris Brewer
    • Tue 21 Apr 2009 12:38 PM

    re: PaulG, no that's the same URL for everyone - I know because I did actually put it in and had it almost correct the first go, except I put an extra 'r' in surveymonkey, not the horrible mish-mash ID string.

    Actually would prefer it if MS stopped delivering the massive amount of paper and folders with the Action Pack - we only use it for the servers and Office...

  7. I think you hit the nail on the head -- MS doesn't have a service which does this yet, and they're loathe to use a third-party for anything (though I'm sure they're in the works to buy tinyurl.com now!).

  8. Hi all-- full disclosure I work for SurveyGizmo (a competitor of SurveyMonkey). Anyways, I just wanted to say that in case anyone was looking for a survey tool that automatically gives you shorten links that you could check us out-- ie, getting a survey link like microsoft.maps-survey.sgizmo.com (this doesn't really exist-- just an example). Just thought I'd throw it out there in case anyone was looking...

  9. Website Rules - Substitution. - Use it all the time.

    Don't you just love Domino sometimes?

    • avatar
    • Richard C
    • Wed 22 Apr 2009 03:12 AM

    Another benefit of having url-redirects is that it can be reusable ... an absolute godsend to the website editors I work with (we have a separate application that deals with redirects - not Domino's website redirects in names.nsf).

  10. Technology is supposed to make things simple. In the wrong hands...well...the example speaks for itsielf.

Your Comments


About This Page

Written by Jake Howlett on Tue 21 Apr 2009

Share This Page

# ( ) '


The most recent comments added:

Skip to the comments or add your own.

You can subscribe to an individual RSS feed of comments on this entry.

Let's Get Social

About This Website

CodeStore is all about web development. Concentrating on Lotus Domino, ASP.NET, Flex, SharePoint and all things internet.

Your host is Jake Howlett who runs his own web development company called Rockall Design and is always on the lookout for new and interesting work to do.

You can find me on Twitter and on Linked In.

Read more about this site »

More Content