Twitter Resource Identifer

Something I was pondering today: is there a compact way to describe external resources in twitter posts? I thought up an answer I'm going to call the Twitter Resource Identifier (TRI).

The canonical way to point to an external resource in twitter is to use an URL shortener such as If you use the bitly domain you can get an 18 character URL such as which points to an external URL (in this case That's not bad, except for the fact that URL shorteners suck, and 18 characters is significant chunk of the 140 character twitter limit.

Here's the best idea I could come up with: encode the locator in a 3 digit alphanumeric code at the end of the tweet, and reference that against a URL in your twitter profile.

I chose 3 alphanumeric digits (including both lower and uppercase ASCII) because it gives a reasonably large search space. In this case the valid characters are 0-9a-zA-Z, which gives you 56^3, or 175,616 possible codes. If you assume each locator maps to one web page, 175,000 locators seems like a reasonable upper bound on the number of pages you would want to reference on one website.

Ideally then you would post a tweet like this:

Check out my hot new blog post about Pokemon! d2E

and your web server would have a database mapping valid TRIs on the website. Note this could be automated by the webserver as it could generate TRIs for every new page in your content management system.

Then a user could manually use the TRI as follows:

This process could be automated by twitter clients as they could do the profile lookup and TRI combination in one step. Then the TRI could be displayed as a direct clickable link in the tweet. One nice feature of this approach is it puts control in the web server instead of in a third-party link shortening service.

I wonder if anyone can think of a better solution to this issue? Also, what are the problems with my proposal? One I can think of is this could be trivially exploited by spammers.

Note that this is not specific to twitter, it could be used with any social media website which offers a profile where you can store a link. I thought specifically of twitter because of the 140 character posting limit.

Anyway, that's my random Sunday idea that I wanted to share. Comments welcome.

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