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Following The Tr.im Incident, 301works Is Ready To Insure Shortened URLs

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picture-104Perhaps you’ve been following the Tr.im fiasco. If not, basically the URL shortening service shut down and said all its links would cease to work by the end of the year, dealing a severe blow to users of any URL shortening service. Tr.im has since recanted its decision (if only to make it easier to sell), but the problem is still a very real one: What happens if your favorite URL-shortener just shuts down? 301works hopes to solve that.

Perhaps you heard about 301works in one of our recent pieces about how Bit.ly was attempting to salvage the Tr.im wreckage. The idea was the 301works would be a centralized hub for all shortened URLs, not run by any one URL-shortener. Tr.im balked at the idea of joining, but plenty of others are, including Bit.ly, Awe.sm, Adjix, betaworks, Cligs, and URLizer. All of them are teaming up with Gnip to launch this project.

One of the holdups in Tr.im’s participation was that it didn’t want one company ruling all of this data. And while Gnip will be handling it at first, to get the project off the ground, the plan is still to find a non-profit group to manage 301works. All the members are clear that they want this to be an open-source project that sets users’ minds at ease about using URL-shorteners.

The service will launch sometime in the next few weeks, after the participating companies have a chance to tell their users that they will be backing up their links on 301works. While most are unlikely to have a problem with that, some might, so they’re giving them some time to opt-out.

So how will 301works actually work? Well here are the key points for how companies will be able to back up their links:

  • URL shortening services decide the frequency that they will make updates.
  • URL shortening services decide how their updates can be made available to the public. Some services will provide regular uploads and downloads (hourly, daily, weekly, etc) and some will opt for a pure archival approach.
  • Gnip is providing the infrastructure service to support aggregating data from URL shortening services. Gnip will provide the infrastructure service to compress the data into pre-defined download options for end users.
  • Companies will be able to submit data via a REST API using HTTP POST over SSL. In addition, Gnip can provide other approaches on request.

All of this sounds great on paper, but the question of just how well this system works remains to be seen. Still, it’s promising that we’re seeing a bunch of companies take action on this so quickly after an incident that left a lot of people concerned about the future of URL-shorteners.

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