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While reviewing a LQ post, I found the answer contained a link, purportedly to a video providing a proof requested in the respective question. However the link was presented as a bit.ly "shortened" link.

This has the effect of disguising the real URL's format, and potentially contributes to link-rot, so as a general preference I'd like to see this avoided. Using my new-found hyperlink hyper-vision, I see there are currently 52 posts containing URL "bit.ly" on Main Math.SE (none on Meta), of which 29 are in Answers. (I'll make a CW post to summarize instances of other common link-shorteners.)

While there are legitimate reasons for shortening and branding links, I find it difficult to imagine those purposes applying here (Math.SE or even StackExchange communities generally). However my ignorance is not a wonderful justification for an editing campaign to remove and replace where possible.

A discussion or pointers to previous discussion on this point of policy would be appreciated.

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    $\begingroup$ I had sometimes problems with links to WA (as described here and here and maybe some other posts.) I usually solve this by using tinyurl. (Although probably urlencoding should work too.) $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Dec 1 '14 at 13:51
  • $\begingroup$ Nice insight. I'm going to take a look at SO and MetaSE for a wider perspective. $\endgroup$ – hardmath Dec 1 '14 at 14:04
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    $\begingroup$ The proposal Ban URL shortening services has (status-declined), in the sense that SE will not automatically stop these from being posted. However, users should feel free to edit to un-obscure problematic short links, or flag comments containing them. $\endgroup$ – user147263 Dec 1 '14 at 14:08
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    $\begingroup$ This now-closed thread on MetaSE could be something of a model. As Martin's Comment amply illustrates, redirected links can serve a good purpose, and editing things on a case-by-case basis (rather than imposing a systematic ban) makes sense. It also makes sense to have guidelines formalized here as reference. $\endgroup$ – hardmath Dec 1 '14 at 14:27
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    $\begingroup$ @Martin: The hyperlink button on the editing toolbar automatically fixes those links, as mentioned in some of the answers on the posts you linked to. $\endgroup$ – Rahul Dec 1 '14 at 15:54
  • $\begingroup$ In the link posted by hardmath this answer points out that there are some cages where direct links cause problems and URL shorteners can help. One example is links to Wayback Machine. If I try linking to ... $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Dec 2 '14 at 7:44
  • $\begingroup$ ... a specific version of a page it works ok. Also listing all captures, it seems to work. So maybe the situation has improved in the meantime. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Dec 2 '14 at 7:47
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A comment above from Famous Blue Raincoat is probably the best answer to this question:

The proposal Ban URL shortening services has (status-declined), in the sense that SE will not automatically stop these from being posted. However, users should feel free to edit to un-obscure problematic short links, or flag comments containing them. – Famous Blue Raincoat Dec 1 '14 at 14:08

Various cases where shortened links may serve a useful purpose are noted in some other Comments above.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, Carl. Famous Blue Raincoat -- if that's his real name -- also deserves credit for spotting the search tool identified in this related Answer. $\endgroup$ – hardmath Feb 25 '15 at 13:19

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