Link rot is when the address you use no longer points to a page. It could be that the site has been shudown, the page has moved or the content has been lost. But if you use a URL shortening service then there’s additional possibility–the shortening service is no longer running.

Short URLs exist for a reason though, they make it easier to spread links on sites with character limits, and they interrupt the flow of text less than full links.

At Deferred Procrastination, we’ve got our own link shortener to take one of the failure points out of the chain; our short links should be around for as long as our pages are around!

You’ll see blog posts with the a short url of the form: No, it’s not the shortest in the world, but it’s all in at 29 characters.

And it’s implemented in the following way:

  • is set to resolve to the same IP address as in the DNS record.

    • This is set as an A record, not a CNAME. A CNAME record for the non-subdomain name will override all other records, including any MX records you might want to use differently.
  • is redirected to on the webserver. A 301 (permanent) redirection is appropriate because it’s an alias redirecting to a canon name.

  • The b/ redirects to blog/ in the root .htaccess document. Again, a 301 redirect is appropriate. Using a subfolder might seem wasteful, but it means I can add wiki, forum and shop links at a later date without changing the format.

  • The 5 character suffix is generated by le_petite_URL plugin for WordPress, so every link is unique and set for each post number automatically. wvson for this post.

This also has the added benefit that each part of the url is interchangeable by a user, so gets you to the homepage and will still get you here. It also benefits the person spreading the link, by making it a little more transparent, even if it’s not the absolute shortest way of doing it.