WP to Twitter: The next step forward

December 11, 2012

Topics: Web Development, WordPress.

I don’t worry too much when I’m planning on adding a new feature to WP to Twitter – most people won’t notice, many won’t care, those who find it useful will be happy about it. But right now I’m thinking about removing a feature, and that is a much more sensitive issue.

Specifically, I want to remove support for URL (Uniform Resource Locator) shortening.

The main argument for keeping URL shortener support is to provide short URL statistics: using a tool like Bit.ly, you can track the clickthroughs on the specific short URL sent to Twitter. However, this can now be done using Google Analytics, which also gives those with an analytical interest the ability to look at their statistics in just one environment.

Shortening URLs to send to Twitter used to be very important — but with the introduction of Twitter’s t.co URL shortening, which is mandatory on all URLs, it’s become really fairly irrelevant. (Yes, it’s mandatory — you may see a different URL, but when you click on the link, you actually go to the t.co shortlink first.)

So I’m looking for users of WP to Twitter to let me know how they feel about URL shorteners. I know how at at least one person feels, and I’m inclined to agree – although Bit.ly works for most people, it fails for almost as many.

One consideration is that I would release an add-on plug-in that would provide URL shortening options in WP to Twitter – if you really want it, you can have it. But I very much want to remove it from the main plug-in.

Your comments are very much appreciated.

Have something to contribute?

« Read my Comment Policy

28 Comments on “WP to Twitter: The next step forward”

  1. Yeah, I was just thinking that as it is a luxury now, and not essentially a requirement to post to Twitter as it was before. Good point though, some would be aggrieved at it.

  2. It’s certainly a thought. I’m always hesitant about moving features that have been free to become premium; but if it was cheap enough, that might be a reasonable idea. (It wouldn’t seem right to charge a lot for features that are already available.)

  3. Just an idea – maybe make the URL (Uniform Resource Locator) shortener extension a cheap premium module (maybe $5?). I’d happily pay that for the added extra, and it could help with future development costs.

    Currently the free version does everything I need/want, so going for the paid version doesn’t make sense for me at least.

  4. Just to clarify, again, this step is not going to result in URL (Uniform Resource Locator) shortening ceasing to be available for WP to Twitter — just that the URL shorteners would not be a standard part of the plug-in, and would need to be downloaded as a separate (free) plug-in. This would simplify the interface for those who don’t need this kind of service.

    But I appreciate all these comments – it’s giving me a good sense for how people use the shortening services and why they want them.

  5. I use Bit.ly for shortening more for branding than statistics and would miss it to be honest.

    As you said, t.co makes using shorteners a luxury rather than a need, but I for one would miss it.

    Thanks for all your work on the plugin!

  6. Wouldn’t mind. Frankly, I get more failures from the plugin than successes when it comes to URL (Uniform Resource Locator) shortening. Given that t.co is more or less automagic, it doesn’t make any sense to layer more shorteners on top of it.

  7. Thanks for commenting. I’m definitely taking all of these comments into consideration, and I’m not going to rush to a decision.

  8. I would really appreciate having the url shorteners – thats what makes the plugin excellent .. having ow.ly would be a well appreciated addon!

  9. Not using the URL (Uniform Resource Locator) shortener would not in any way take away the ability to send a URL — I will always include default support for standard URLs (which will be shortened by Twitter through t.co), for abbreviating URLs using WordPress, and for external plug-ins such as Twitter Friendly URLs, just as I do now. What I aim to drop is support for external services such as Bit.ly, Goo.gl, or Su.pr as a part of the main plug-in. Even those services would continue to be available as part of a separate plug-in.

    There is no need to use any kind of shortening with WP to Twitter, regardless.

  10. The whole reason we use WP-to-Twitter is because it simultaneously sends a tweet when a post is published and includes a short URL (Uniform Resource Locator) to the post in the tweet.

    WordPress now provides short URLs for Posts using their wp.me shortener. You can get the shortened URL by clicking the Get shortlink button at the end of the Permalink below the title of the post to use it in other posts or tweets. Unfortunately, this button doesn’t show up when making a post using the Events Calendar plugins. (And WP-to-Twitter doesn’t automatically send simultaneous tweets for those calendar posts but they can be sent if you manually type the message in the WP-to-Twitter box on the Event Calendar post page–then a URL gets included.)

    I am *guessing* that as of now, if we use WP-to-Twitter and the WP shortener instead of bit.ly, that the tweet will show the WP short URL.

    But if the next update to the plugin decouples itself from URL shorteners, then I don’t know what the simultaneous tweets will contain. The full URL of the post? If so, Twitter won’t tweet it at all. Since WP-toTwitter doesn’t work automatically with Event Calendar posts, we’ll have to create short URLs externally to include in the tweet message before publishing the event post. Those are extra steps that the WP-to-Twitter plugin really helped with. A tweet without a URL to a the post is useless.

    Please at least keep the WP shortener in the plugin so tweets will include a URL.

  11. I love the shortener option, just my shortening service of choice isn’t available as they payout per 1000 clicks. That is AdFoc.us

  12. I can see that having the plugin shorten the url can be redundant but I would be concerned with the full url and tweet won’t go through when getting the 403 error if the tweet is too long. I have it happen to me with Tweetdeck since it checks the character count before sending it to twitter.

    I’m sure the defaults will be enough so I won’t have to fiddle with the character settings.

  13. Sounds good Joe. Just sorted things out by updating the meta data in my WP database so it is all working good no for future and past posts.


  14. No, not really. If I received hundreds of emails begging me for the opportunity to pay for it, sure…but that’s not a very likely possibility!

  15. Joe – that sounds good. No chance that will become a premium plugin will it?

  16. Even if I remove support from YOURLs from this plug-in, I would make it available as a secondary plug-in; it would simply be an optional and additional installation, separate from WP to Twitter, rather than being part of the core plug-in. I don’t have any intention of making previously available functionality completely non-existent; but I do want to make it something that isn’t part of the defaults.

  17. I just purchased your Pro version and I use the self hosted YOURLS shortener to the tune of 39K links and nearly 4.1 million clicks being tracked. I picked your plugin because it supported YOURLS self hosted.

    So my thought as a newcomer is that I would hate to see it go because I like being able to track and manage these things outside of Google.

    Loss of this, for me personally, would mean I purchased this plugin with a different expectation and I would ask for a refund.


  18. I’ve been always using Bit.ly as my primary URL (Uniform Resource Locator) shortener. However, after they integrated t.co, I think we don’t need to use any additional services. Some of us are just to lazy to set back to ‘Don’t shorten URLs’.

    I suggest you removing shorten services, but make sure it sets back to default for those who use it 🙂

  19. Actually, that isn’t 100% the case. One one site, when one guy posts vids and uses the Custom Tweets area in the post, he sometimes gets that 403 error, so I go in after him, enable Tweet edits, go in an trim a few characters from his custom Tweet, save it and it works.

    How will removing the shorteners from the plugin affect the occasional character count conundrum?

  20. I had been using the “Don’t shorten”, but was worried about how much of my tweet text was being used by the full link, which I’m guessing now I misunderstood how it was being shortened.

    So, depending on how much title and post content I choose to let show, it’ll “truncate” the visible part of the link, but still use the t.co shortener anyway?

    That’s good to know… I’ve been trying to figure out how to squeeze all that into 140, and going nuts over it 🙂

  21. Hi, Summer – what Ben said is exactly right, and is why I’m going to be removing the URL (Uniform Resource Locator) shorteners from the main plug-in. They are now irrelevant: all links sent to Twitter are shortened by t.co. What you see displayed may be the original link sent, but the link has been shortened, and takes up 20 characters of your Tweet update — no matter what shortener you use before sending.

  22. Summer,

    Simply use the ‘don’t shorten’ and let it insert your link as normal. It will be shortened AFTER it is sent to twitter.

    If for example the link was: “http://www.joedolson.com/2012/12/wp-to-twitter-the-next-step-forward/”
    It may display on twitter as: “joedolson.com/arti…”
    It will be shortened using t.co and still work.

    Even your ow.ly links would have been shortened and using t.co , Twitter does this once it receives your tweet. You just don’t see it happen and can’t turn it on or off.

  23. I’ve only just started using WP to Twitter, and I’m happier with it than my previous Twitter plugin, but I haven’t quite figured out the URL (Uniform Resource Locator) shortening yet.

    Currently, it seems my best choices are “don’t shorten”, which doesn’t use the t.co at all. When I use Hootsuite to manually tweet to various of our accounts, we get the ow.ly shortener.

    I really don’t care about the tracking, not one bit. I just want short URLs so I can put more meat in the tweet 🙂

    What’s my best option for that now, and what would it be for future changes to the plugin?

    I do hope you keep things simple… it’s one thing that attracted me to your plugin from my previous one (a good one that went bad when they went pro only)

  24. So, on the basis of 3 votes and comments (and thank you for that!) it’s confirmed: I’ll be removing support for URL (Uniform Resource Locator) shortening in the next major release of WP to Twitter. I will set it up as a secondary plug-in, so that it’s still available, but it won’t be part of the main WP to Twitter set up.

  25. Whoops… I don’t just mean exclusively YOURLS shortening… I mean all shortening in general.

  26. I say you can remove it, and for the people (like me) who still want YOURLS shortening, can install a plugin for your plugin. Does that make since?

  27. Hi Joe,

    I use a custom domain with a YOURLS install to for aesthetic reasons, it helps tie it into my company.
    WP to Twitter is the easiest to setup and use, and most reliable plugin I ave used (even if it hasn’t been for that long yet).

    If you would code an add-on plugin to retain this ability then that would be great. If the demand isn’t there then I’ll just keep to using the ‘outdated’ version of the plugin. That’ll still work!

  28. Hey Joe. (Long time, no talk to!)

    Like you said, URL (Uniform Resource Locator) shortening was for a different time. Stats are covered by Google and the shortening is covered by Twitter.

    If people wish to retain this, I say go with your idea of the separate plug-in. Otherwise, remove it.