Pinboard Blog

War on Urchin!

If you've ever clicked an article in your RSS reader or Twitter stream, you may have noticed an unsightly query string clinging to the end of your URL like shit to a sneaker:

These parameters are used for tracking by a Google product called Urchin. There are five of them (term, campaign, media, source and content) and they are just another one of the malicious effects of URL shortening. When everyone is passing around shortened links, it's easier to add this kind of cruft to the fully-expanded URLs without anyone caring much.

Today I finally started stripping utm_* query parameters from all URLs arriving in Pinboard. They create needless URL bloat, erode user privacy, make it more difficult to identify duplicate content, and benefit ad publishers at the expense of everyone else. Out they go!

It will take me a little while to make this change retroactive, so some users may see what appear to be duplicate bookmarks show up in their account. Please rest assured that these will disappear as I work my way backwards through the database.

Soon: death to URL shorteners!

—maciej on June 11, 2011

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