Room 208

Elaborate Burn

Posts from September 2015

Working!!! (season 3) episode 13.

Tumblr has started making link posts point to an interstitial redirect on, instead of directly to the actual page. In the spirit of Google’s incredibly annoying redirector, the URLs are hideous:

t appears to be a Base64-encoded token specific to the post, while u is just the Base64-encoded URL. The redirector at least checks that the token matches the URL so that it can’t be used for phishing by setting an arbitrary target, which raises the question of why the URL is there in the first place, in a format that’s opaque to human readers.

Not following Google’s example, the redirect is performed as an HTML <meta> refresh. This is stupid for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which is that it confuses clients that aren’t Web browsers. Moreover, while Google waits until the link is clicked on to replace the URL, so the status bar remains useful, Tumblr doesn’t. This means that there’s no visible indication of where a link really points if you’re not on the dashboard.

What is the point of all this? Analytics, most likely, though of course given Tumblr’s remarkable lack of communication about its platform the real reason is anyone’s guess. What I do know is that it’s dumb.