The end of shortlinks

published: Saturday, Feb 15th, 2014 | category: Announcements | author:

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Important Notice!

The link shortening service was retired on March 1, 2014. Information on this page may be outdated or inaccurate.

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Guinea pig frowning

That’ll do, pig. operates with one goal in mind: to promote the adoption and rescue over the purchase (or purposeful breeding) of pet guinea pigs.

To this end, launched in October 2012 as a free service to “shorten links and raise money for guinea pig rescues.” By connecting with “affiliate” merchants like and Target, earns money each time a product or service is purchased through a shortlink. These shortlink earnings are then donated in full to guinea pig rescues chosen by you via online polls and surveys.

Since its start, has been able to donate over $300 to hard-working 501(c)3 non-profits that demonstrate the ability to properly rescue, shelter, rehabilitate, and rehome homeless guinea pigs.

But, as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. Unfortunately, this is the case with‘s link-shortening service.

Beginning March 1, 2014, the link shortening service will be retired. This decision has not come easily, but it is the best course of action for a number of reasons, outlined below. shortlinks will work indefinitely

Although you won’t be able to create new shortlinks, all shortlinks made prior to March 1, 2014 and shortlink analytics will continue to work indefinitely.

#1. Declining User Base

It’s no secret that the use of appeals to a niche, tech-savvy group. Shortening links, tracking analytics, and using in a way that brings in dollars for guinea pigs has proven to be a challenging tool to package. Whether the cause comes from the complexity of how works or from weak messaging, usage in 2013 was dismally low, and easily the #1 reason why retiring shortlinks makes the most sense.

Without the time of a robust group of volunteers to grow the service, and without a flash-bang of new users, our current user base isn’t large enough to raise the kind of money that can justify such a large output of time for daily maintenance and security. started strong with over 25 loyal users. After several months, that number grew to 35. Then 45. Then things stalled towards the Fall of 2013. People began to use less, staff had less time to blog and post rescue news across our channels, and traction eventually declined.

Then, at the end of 2013, came the next piece of news.

#2. Unfavorable Merchant Agreements

When started in 2012, our negotiated merchant agreements were earning an average of 20% to 50% of the price of items purchased at participating shops through links. To put it plainly, these percentages are the only way is able to raise money for guinea pig rescues.

Today, those same agreements are earning 5% to 15%. It’s a numbers game, and, without a massive future influx of new users, our earning power has, unfortunately, flatlined.

#3. Technical Considerations

Spam Link in Email Message

Spam Link in Email Message

Daily link monitoring and spam protection has grown far above and beyond what can be handled by‘s current volunteer team of two. The more spam that goes untreated means the more difficult it is to keep shortlinks functioning properly across channels such as Facebook and Twitter.

In fact, in the past several months, has been flagged as a “suspicious source”, most notably on Pinterest (update: 2/16/2014: This has been resolved). This happened due to those who would rather use for greed and trickery rather than its intended use: raising money for homeless guinea pigs. While spam use of poses no threat for other users, it significantly degrades the user experience beyond staff control.

We want our awesome users to be able to share shortlinks wherever and whenever they want. Unscrupulous spammers have made this goal increasingly difficult, and sometimes near impossible.

What’s Next?

Beginning March 1, 2014 at 12:00am Pacific Time, the shortlink service will go offline.

Please note: the website will remain online. All web-pages will remain accessible and all shortlinks made prior to March 1, 2014 will work indefinitely.

Stay In Touch! will still be around after March 1, 2014, and you never know what can change! Join us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date on any new developments for!

What About the 2014 Rescues?

LA Guinea Pig Rescue and Wee Companions were selected to be the 2014 Featured Guinea Pig Rescues. Each of these deserving rescues will be sent a contribution equal to the largest donation we’ve issued. Each rescue will receive a check for $80.00, which we will announce on the blog. (Update 2/1/2014: Please read 2014 Rescue Donations for updates.)

Closing has been in operation since October 1, 2012. In the nearly two years of operation, has issued a total of $381.20 for guinea pig rescues; generated 2,476 links on the domain which has raised public awareness of guinea pig rescues; and has made an earnest attempt to share stories of guinea pig rescues and their successes on our blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

Whether you are visiting for the first time today or you were here shortening links to raise money from day one, we hope you are left with a better understanding of the merits of adoption vs buying.

We will continue to make frequent cash and supply donations to our favorite guinea pig rescues. We hope you will, too.

For a list of guinea pig rescues you can help, please visit the Guinea Pig Rescue Directory.

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About Brian

Brian Balla is a professional web designer and WordPress blogger from Portland, Oregon. Included among Brian’s varied interests are reading, social media, web analytics, and amateur gardener (zone 8B).

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