Monday, August 17, 2009

Tr.im to be 'Community Owned'

Nambu announced their final plans for the URL shortener Tr.im. The service will become community owned. Before explaining the finer points of the plan, they took a few swipes at both Twitter and Bit.ly. Bit.ly did make an offer for Tr.im which they rejected. They also took a swipe at Bit.ly's attempt to prevent link-rot in URL shortners with the same critic I had given; namely that the policy depends on the URL owner agreeing or donating the name to/for the cause.

"We would like to set the record straight. Last Monday, August 10, 2009, bit.ly offered $10,000 for the tr.im domain name and everything associated with it. They used this “offer” to inject themselves into the conversation, and generate attention for their shallow initiative to address link-rot. It was transparent, and so I rejected it.

That initiative, 301works.org, is little more than a bit.ly public relations stunt, which is why we have not joined it. It has little substance, claiming to address link-rot while it does nothing of the kind. If a URL shortener decides to close, only the donation of the domain name and the data can address the existing links. For any high-volume URL shortener, like tr.im, it is unlikely a commercial entity would do that given the offers we have seen come in this past week to immediately hijack all tr.im URLs.
"

Now for the finer points of the plan;

"On or before September 15, 2009, Nambu, tr.im and I will complete the following:

1. We will renounce all ownership interest in the tr.im domain name and donate it to the community. We will work out the legalities of this over the coming weeks, but it will ensure no one is ever able to hijack tr.im URLs in the future. They will always exist, period. Everyone can use tr.im with confidence.

2. We will release the source code used to implement tr.im for anyone to use, help develop, or privately extend as they like. We will release it under the MIT open-source license. It is our sincere hope that every URL shortener becomes as good or better than tr.im, or can learn from our architecture and feature set.

3. tr.im will offer all link-map data associated with tr.im URLs to anyone that wants it in real-time. This will involve a variety of time-based snapshots of aggregated destination URLs, the number of tr.im URLs created for any given destination URL, and aggregate click data.

If the community can take tr.im to a market share of 5-10% of shortened URLs then the community will own a statistical snapshot of the bit.ly/twitter walled garden, as it pertains to links that are being shared in real-time. By making this complete snapshot available in real-time to anyone that wants it the community will enable anyone to innovate and work on this data as they see fit for whatever purpose, not just bit.ly/twitter and their connected friends.

4. I, Eric Woodward, will personally guarantee any shortfall in tr.im’s operating expenses, indefinitely. We had an issue with tr.im consuming Nambu’s corporate resources, but by assuming this responsibility myself, this issue goes away. I am more than able to do this, and more than willing to do this. The community needs and deserves its own URL shortener.

5. tr.im will begin publishing all statistics and information related to it usage. Its operating cash flow, redirects, URL creation counts — everything — so that the community can have confidence it is on solid footing.

6. tr.im will being accepting donations to help meet its operating expenses, but in a completely transparent and open way.

7. tr.im will add the capability for anyone to use their own domain name on tr.im’s platform, also free of charge, on a donation basis.
"

They end with a call to eliminate the need for URL shorteners;

"It is my personal opinion ... that the usage of URL shorteners needs to transition into the public domain, or the need for them within social networks such as Twitter and Facebook needs to be eliminated. ...

I sincerely hope that Twitter and other aspiring social networks allow users to attach links to their status updates outside of any arbitrary character limitation, preventing the looming crisis of link-rot that bit.ly/twitter is potentially creating. Everyone could then use their own domain name to share links or track statistics (if they wanted to) because then the domain name’s length would no longer be relevant. This would be the ideal solution.
"

More at http://blog.tr.im/post/165049236/tr-im-to-be-community-owned.

Past related posts:
Berman Post: Tr.im Shuts Down, Bit.ly May Come to the Rescue
Berman Post: Tr.im to Comes Back
Berman Post: URL Shorteners Try to Fight Dead Links

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