Project: Go Links for NC State

There’s a million different link shortening services out there: bit.ly, tinyurl etc. A problem with those short links, is that they have different domain extensions that are impossible to trust from an institutional or branding perspective. NC State Go Links meets this need by providing a self-service method for NC State Employees to create and manage shortened links that use the ncsu.edu domain.

For example…you can convert this URL:

  • http://www.ncsu.edu/policies/informationtechnology/REG08.00.2.php

Into this…

  • go.ncsu.edu/ComputerUse

Which one would you rather cut and paste into your browser, or email, or print on a brochure?

Benefits of using Go Links:

  • Create random or user-specified links. Users can create links that automatically use a random 6 or 7 character string, or they can specify exactly what they want their link to be. As long as the link doesn’t conflict with an existing one, or a banned word (see below for more on this), then they can create it.
  • All links use the ncsu.edu domain, communicating trust about which website you are being redirected to
  • Ability to create and publish a go link, and then later change the target. This means no more reprinting brochures if a link is incorrect or you need to change it later. Just change the target, and anyone visiting that go link will go to the new target
  • Ability to report abuse or misuse directly from the go link’s page. This helps the user community to police the system without involving the service-owners (jointly managed by University Communications and OIT).
  • Track hits, referrer information and browser statistics for each go link. There is also the ability to add Google Analytics tracking code to each go link for users who need advanced analytics.
  • Ability to manage links with other people. Using the tagging feature, you can give other people permission manage your links. This is helpful for departmental links that more than one person should be responsible for.
  • Banned Links. Administrators can set up “banned” terms that cannot appear anywhere in a go link.
  • Disable / Administratively disable links. Administrators or users can disable/enable links without needing to delete the link. This allows for temporary disabling of links in the case of policy violations, or disputes over where a certain go link should redirect to.
  • Change Ownership. Users can transfer ownership to another user without needing to involve an administrator.
  • Wrong Links Tracking. Administrators can view statistics for incorrect go links. This is helpful in determining trends or detecting if someone published an incorrect link which is generating a lot of traffic to the “link not found” page.
  • Link Themes. Users can specify different layouts for their go links by choosing between a default toolbar at the top, or a set of administrator-created themes that put the toolbar and branded information on the right-hand-side of the page.
  • There is an API available so users can programatically create golinks. This is already in place for sysnews posts (http://sysnews.ncsu.edu)

Need more information?

Go Links was developed by Nick Young, but is open source, developed using PHP, Zend Framework and OT Framework. It is not packaged and ready for distribution just yet, but if you’re interested, please send an email to oitdesign@ncsu.edu