Why Short URLs are blocked and how to un-block them

URL Shortenings are mainly used by services like twitter to reduce the amount of character in URLs. Since you can only put 140 characters it make sense to be more economical about the number of characters in your post. For example the article about URL Shortening at the Wikipedia is : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/URL_shortening (42 characters long) when shortened it can be one of the following : “http://bit.ly/urlwiki“, “http://tinyurl.com/urlwiki“, “http://is.gd/urlwiki” or “http://goo.gl/Gmzqv“. All of them direct you to the same location. (If you happen to click this short links from Ethiopia, for some reason the first two will not work and the last two will work).

Other than being economical, short URLs are prettier to look at and are useful to disguise the underling address.

Okay that said, let’s say am one of those government type who proudly say I can decide and choose whatever my citizens would like hear, see, eat, sleep with ….. and one day I decided to block site X. Because according to ME, site X is talking bad about me, criticizing every move I make. So I say site X is bad, it’s out of my control, and citizens should not see that site no more. Bang! Site X now say “The connection was reset..” or according to Google Chrome “Oops! Google Chrome could not find X”. Success! but hey what if the people over X get smart and put their address http://sho.rt/x and share it with facebook and twitter? bummer! why not block the whole http://sho.rt URL all together? but wait what about all those great sites shortned by the sho.rt?? Well, I don’t care. Let the smart asses find a way to that.

I guess that was what the people at the ISP or whatever discuss among themselves before blocking several short URL giving services like bitly.com here in Ethiopia. dumbs!

Okay, creepy right. I know. I would say: block whatever you want but at least be smart about it.

Let’s find a solution. I guess spending more time on how to solve the problem would be helpful than crying about the poor thinking out there. Keep in mind that am not trying to figure out a way to unblock X here, all am going to show you is trying to Unshorten your URLs (good ones 😉 or all of them ). There are handful guides out there to do unblocking and other stuff on google.

My Solution will include a handful of add-ons, websites and other methods. I will go through 2 here. Choose the easier you find and stick with it. Enjoy!

1. Use a URL un-shorten services online

This solution involves copying the short URL and past it to the site that will give you the full address of that short URL. Then you can open it without no problem. If you are lazy to google, here are 4 examples of such a service.

Explore your options, some may support all shortner services, others may not.

2. Install an add-on/extension to your browser

This might not be an ideal solution for all of you out there. Either it will be too technical to have to install extensions or you may be using variety of other devices with different kind of browsers. If you are on Internet Explorer, Chrome or Firefox chances are there are browser extensions to do just that. Again if you are lazy enough to google I will put some of them here.

  • Firefox
  • Google Chrome
    • URL Expander
  • Internet Explorer
    • [I need help on this one, I don’t have IE on my machine if someone get a solution please email it to me]

My ultimate solution is to use Greasmonkey and here is how I finally find the solution.

Greasmonkey is a firefox add-on, it allows other developers to write script that changes how websites function. Install Greasmonkey and add the script that will always give you an option to unshorten any URL on any page and replace the link and the text (which is great). The problem with few other unshorten plugins I checked was they change the text but not the actual link, which means clicking on them won’t work.

After installing your Greasmonkey, install a user script from here. Restart FF, Bam! your problem is solved already


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