Digg has apparently been a URL-shortener recently, but they’ve just angered a lot of people by changing the behavior of their shortened URLs to redirect visitors to a Digg page instead of the typical and expected link-shortener behavior of redirecting to the target page.
Shorteners are convenient, but they create a number of significant problems such as this.
Do you trust that shortener to be operational in a few years when you’re going back through your archives and looking for that one page that you blogged about? How about that article you short-linked from Twitter three weeks ago? Will your shortener still work? Will they still redirect for free, or will they force you through an interstitial ad page like Digg has effectively done here?
By depending solely on the whims, uptime, financial viability, and business decisions of a middleman, you’re dramatically reducing the durability and longevity of a link that you’re publishing.
And that’s just one of the many problems with link shorteners. They also have negative implications for your readers and search engines.
Use them only when necessary, only when links are unimportant and don’t need to be permanent, and only from shorteners that you trust to be in business and non-annoying for a while. Digg may be in business for a bit, but I’d never trust them not to be annoying. Personally, I go with Bit.ly when I need a shortener, but I minimize such occasions.