Design of this site

Looking at, I realized I have things to say too.

URLs shouldn't be too short

  • Look at the link – what is this monstrosity of a web address? No contextual information. If it had been named, I could recognize it as a page I've read before: "ah yeah, that's that page Sivers wrote about short URLs". With the ultra-short variant, I have to visit it before I can recognize that I've already been there and go back to wherever I was.
    • Sivers would respect my time better if the URL gave enough info for me to avoid clicking it! There's a design criterion.
    • Even is not a link I can recognize on sight. Single-word slugs are usually a bad idea, though is OK. It strains the limits of my pattern-matcher, but it matches.
      • For that particular page, the top domain luckily contributes to the meaning, as the page is literally about the design of, not about design in general.
      • A year from now, I might not recognize it, but it's night and day compared with, which takes me only an hour to forget. In the time I've been drafting this article I've been largely unaware of just what article that links to – I visit a few times for curiosity, but the association between the generic verb "destroy" and that article fades so quickly. "Qntm destroy what?" It doesn't complete to anything like a sentence.
      • The ideal slug is seen in URLs like, if we ignore for a moment the superfluous bits and bobs like the /posts/x4dG4GhpZH2hgz59x/ and the www. I prefer to handle links such as this. It's many years ago I visited this link, yet even after all that time, it's impossible to mistake. That feature, recognizability, trumps any length aesthetic.
        • Takeaway: slugs should be long and specific, maximizing recognizability.
    • You should have to click links as little as possible (my site is a rat's nest of hyperlinks only as far as it must be). The same theory underlies people like Gwern's efforts to contextualize links and generate preview pop-ups. I say, it helps a lot just having a descriptive URL in the first place.

Permanent page ID🔗

  • My URLs get a unique random ID before the descriptive slug, i.e., giving me full freedom to rename the slug part and split and merge pages. I couldn't live without that; almost all my pages have been renamed at least once, and some have been through a dozen renames.
    • When writing the notes for yourself only, it is possible to rely on a mass-renaming toolkit such as what orgrr provides. However, that does not keep alive your blog visitors' bookmarks.
      • To keep them alive, the toolkit would have to keep a record of all renames ever done, that you can translate into URL redirects…
    • My page ID is five alphabetic characters, sans vowels, all lowercase.
      • Example:
      • This implies a 21-character alphabet, or "base-21". Out of that alphabet, there are 4,084,101 ways to compose a five-char string, plenty for one person's homepage (How long page-IDs?).
        • The probability of collision is low but not effectively zero like with a proper UUID, but here's an advantage of a one-person one-machine system – when a collision occurs, I can just renew the ID.
      • Excluding vowels prevents accidentally generating words (and obscenities). It means I can have custom routes such as without worrying that there already exists an autogenerated ID "login".
      • Old mistake: Instead of alphabetic, it used to be base-62 i.e. the ID could include numbers and capital letters. I had links like and

        Use lowercase alphabetic! It nods to the fact that URLs are a user interface!

        Sometimes I want to send myself a link between devices, but I have to stop and think how to do that. (Do I email myself? Do I use the Share button?) If the URL is short, it's almost always faster and more comfortable to just type it. Right?

        Here base-62 comes into the picture and tramples my lawn, because phone keyboards—

Created (7 months ago)
Updated (3 months ago)