threatened by Libyan domain shenanigans

We all know the dangers, but we're addicted: URL shorteners make links dependent on third parties whose business security, reliability and trustworthiness are ever in doubt. And it just so happens that the most popular URL-shortening suffix, .ly, is under the family control of Libya's mercurial dictator.


  1. Short URLs for throw-away links, e.g. Twitter.

    Full URLs for meaningful links, e.g. Boing-Boing.


  2. Will Greenland catch on that allowing to redirect anyone to anywhere is almost certainly going to mean that people are going to use their country’s TLD for pr0nz???

  3. I wonder whether will post a Sharia compliance policy to their site in order to keep their domain from being yanked, move to another domain, or keep its head down. If the latter, I imagine that, unless they start censoring their site, there’ll be a lot of people posting links to, say, breweries, bacon fandom sites and high-interest bank accounts, just to provoke. Things could get interesting.

  4. So why doesn’t the NIC just revoke Libya’s ownership of .ly? The net needs to take a hard line against countries that can’t be trusted with the net.

    Looks like good news for

    What third world dictatorship is .gl, though?

  5. .gl is Greenland, which is a territory of Denmark, a country not known for its Sharia-compliant media.

  6. @deckard68: legally, Libya is well within its rights to decide what domains to register and not register in its national domain. Much in the way that Canada was legally within its rights to revoke, because it wasn’t based in Canada. (The US, incidentally, doesn’t allow non-US organisations to register .us domains.)

    1. bingo. its their TLD to administer as they please, no matter how distasteful anyone else finds it.

      I was on the verge of picking up a .ps domain, but then read the fine print from the Palestinian NIC, which had a similar provision to Libya’s for local law, and didn’t do it.

      Its a shame when people don’t do their research before picking up a clever domain, or assum the rules will not apply, and get caught out on it. But them’s the breaks.

    1. I wonder if Libya did something clearly improper — say, redirecting links — whether it would be scandalous for ISPs (or maybe google via its DNS) to redirect to the alternatives maintained by and the archive.

      Broken URL shortening services seems an interesting architectural problem, in that they can’t be repaired (forgive me if I misunderstand the issues) without doing something fundamentally iffy.

  7. What is so special about .ly for URL shorteners anyway? is much used but it’s not as if it’s short for an actual word…. unless I’ve missed something

  8. We registered a couple of shortening-style domains, but haven’t put them to use. There’s just something weird about the whole idea of it — it’s only necessary because of twitter, to be honest, and I imagine we’d only use it for that unless other compelling reasons presented themselves.

  9. Well, not just Twitter. Really long URLs can also get chopped up going through email. That’s why MakeAShorterLink and TinyURL predate Twitter by several years.

    I keep hoping for Unicode support to be widespread enough that I can use

  10. … is under the family control of Libya’s mercurial dictator.

    Yeah, but we have 4chan. Don’t make us summon 4chan.

  11. For the unfamiliar … “email” is an enhanced form of Twitter than doesn’t train your brain to think only those short thoughts that can fit into 140 cha

  12. I regard URL shorteners in comments with a jaundiced eye. Nobody wants to click on a blind link, they leave a trail of dead links in old threads and, I’m not making this up, I have seen people use shorteners that have more characters than the original URL. Who gives computer access to people who can’t figure out how to mask a link?

    <a href=”full URL goes here with no spaces”>Whatever you want to call the link goes here</a>. The URL must include the http part and don’t forget the “s before and after the URL.

  13. You should see the flyer our new coffee shop on campus has come up with. The URL at the bottom for their Facebook page covers three lines and includes what I’d estimate to be a 16-digit number. I stand there poking it with my finger, but nothing happens.

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