By now, a lot of Internet users are suffering from URL-shortening overload syndrome and I am no exception. When I found out about Stumbleupon‘s Web 2.0-aptly named Su.pr, I can’t deny that I groaned more than just a bit. When it comes to the Unique Ideas Department, URL shortening is old hat and I wondered why Stumbleupon couldn’t work on something new and exciting. Something to get my browsers in a twist and my cookies all warmed up.
But after trying the service for over a week, I have to admit that my initial reaction may have been a little bit hasty. This shortening service may actually have some potential. If they work on the ideas that people are suggesting, the veteran of the game – TinyURL – may start to have some sleepless nights ahead.
The main advantage that Su.pr has over other similar sites is that it has the power of the Stumbleupon community behind it. Once Su.pr gets onto the Stumbleupon toolbar, those fans will be using it all the time to shorten and track their Stumbleupon submissions. This is something that big names such as TinyURL doesn’t have – a ready made user base who will embrace the service from the word go.
You can sign into Su.pr with your Stumbleupon account or use the beta code “suprbeta”. (Update: StumbleUpon just made Su.pr public) Once in, you have two immediate options – just shorten a link (to do with what you will) or “Post” which will send the link to Twitter and/or Facebook.
Clicking “just shorten” will give you a nice short URL as the service is supposed to do:
But if you choose to “post” it, you can then open up all the tracking possibilities.
Once posted, you will see your “stats” section open up below with the link you have just posted.
Now click on “thumb up now” to submit the link to Stumbleupon. This opens up a box to thumb the link up and also give you an opportunity to make a comment, just like you would on any other Stumbleupon submission.
After you have submitted the link to Stumbleupon, click on “view stats” to get an immediate overview of who is viewing your submission.
As you can see, it shows you how many Stumbleupon views you are getting as well as retweets and where your traffic is coming from – directly typed in, bookmarked, email and mobile. Since this link has just been submitted, the page is pretty much blank but once people start receiving the link, that graph will quickly fill up.
One possible privacy issue is that you can view the Stumbleupon stats for ANY website, even if you are not the owner of that site. Just go to http://su.pr/report/domain/yoursite.com/ and enter the domain name in place of yoursite.com. OK, perhaps some webmasters may not consider their stats top secret but some others, including the really big blogs with a lot of advertising money at stake, may not want their stats thrown out there for all to see. A way to lock this page down unless you are the owner may be a good idea for Su.pr to urgently consider.
What if you don’t want to post a Su.pr link just now but later at a certain time? No problem there either. Su.pr has you covered. Just use the “schedule for later” option and enter the time you want it sent. Be careful though to choose your correct time zone, though.
That is the basic essence of Su.pr – to give you a way to shorten your links and then track them. But you would be sorely mistaken if you thought that was the end of it. Oh no, there’s more so let’s take a look at them all.
First there’s a Worpress plugin. Apart from being able to have your links posted to Twitter and Facebook,
the plugin also allows you to set up custom domain short URL’s. So instead of http://Su.pr/ABCD, you can now have http://yourdomain/ABCD. This is a fantastic development for anyone who does a lot of URL shortening and at the same time wants to promote their blog domain. Just follow the instructions here to find out how to do it.
Another great feature of the WordPress plugin is that a Stumbleupon toolbar will appear on your domain when someone clicks on a Su.pr URL in one of your blog posts. This gives them the chance to thumb it up and down and also track the URL at the same time. However there seems to be a big hiccup in this department as stumbling Su.pr links with this toolbar will take you to an error page. It seems that the Su.pr team may have released this option a bit too prematurely.
Having the Stumbleupon toolbar at the top of the domain though will probably be a big boon for webmasters who want to push their content a bit more. If you put your domain name into your Su.pr settings then when the toolbar shows up, your most popular links will appear in an iframe to the right of the page along with the number of stumbles that link has received.
Su.pr also has an API key so developers who wish to make products around the Su.pr concept will be able to do so. So look out soon for Adobe AIR apps to shorten your links from and iPhone apps. Although the Su.pr team are already looking at such concepts in their suggestions forum.
For those who like things a little bit simpler, there is also a browser bookmarklet which will make it a bit easier to turn the pages you’re on into Su.pr links.
It’s great how the Stumbleupon team have taken such a common concept such as the short URL and turned it into a tool of many uses, as well as heavily promoting the Stumbleupon service at the same time. When you think about how former owners eBay were letting Stumbleupon stagnate, it’s good to see the site going back to their original owners and those owners going all out to create something which may in the long term revolutionize the site and the web. Look at it this way, how many short URL sites are offering all the things that Su.pr is offering and when you look at the suggestions forum, it’s obvious that Su.pr is going to knock out all other rivals at the short URL business. For a start, the Stumbleupon community is driving it forward with ideas and suggestions on how to improve.
This is something that companies like TinyURL can only dream about.