URL shorteners are problematical, as everybody knows, but with the rise of Twitter and its ilk they seem to be a necessary part of the landscape. Some of the biggest questions around services such as bit.ly, TinyURL, and is.gd is what happens when they go out of business (as tr.im did last August). Now a group of such companies, organized under the auspices of the Internet Archive, has formed a non-profit entity to hold URL-shortening databases in escrow, with the intent of continuing to resolve a member company's links should it get out of the business. At announcement, the 301Works organization has 21 URL-shortener members, including the largest, bit.ly. Many others are not (yet) on board. The members have agreed to cede control of their domain names to 301Works.org should they exit the field, and to back up their URL mappings regularly to the organization.
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