How Does One Even Make an URL Like This?

I receive emails with journal tables of contents, including Emerging Infectious Disease. Here’s the url of an article provided in the article:

https://lnks.gd/l/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiJ9.eyJlbWFpbCI6ImZlbGRnYXJkQG5jYmkubmxtLm5paC5nb3YiLCJidWxsZXRpbl9saW5rX2lkIjoiMTE3Iiwic3Vic2NyaWJlcl9pZCI6IjM4ODkyOTQ3NSIsImxpbmtfaWQiOiIyNzIwMTc0MiIsInVyaSI6ImJwMjpkaWdlc3QiLCJ1cmwiOiJodHRwOi8vd3d3bmMuY2RjLmdvdi9laWQvYXJ0aWNsZS8yMS81LzE0LTExODRfYXJ0aWNsZSIsImJ1bGxldGluX2lkIjoiMjAxNTA0MjIuNDQzMzQzMzEifQ.y4oyeNbi_BwsWvqOtT6jNTmangPf1yPHG49FNMfZqtQ

It resolves to this: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/21/5/14-1184_article

Not clear to me why the first version is needed, or how it’s generated.

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6 Responses to How Does One Even Make an URL Like This?

  1. Physicalist says:

    Maybe they want to know who it is that clicks on the link, so they make each URL unique? This can’t be a full explanation, though, because it’s absurdly long even for that.

  2. zero says:

    They might be using some form of permanent link scheme, where their excessively long link will resolve to the article as long as it is still there and can be redirected later if the URL changes or if the author decides to host the content elsewhere.

  3. Sioban Krzywicki says:

    Very likely a revenue generating redirect. That or it is so the target can know which distribution system brought the reader. It is end-user tracking, but they don’t care who clicked the link, just which system brought the link to the reader.

  4. Arjun says:

    I second Sioban, and I’d venture to guess they encoded the entire name, url, account number, email address, and hair color of the referrer into the URL. They couldn’t be bothered using a database in their redirector.

  5. Chris G says:

    I’m reminded of an episode of NewsRadio where Joe Rogan reprogrammed the office phones to make “#45720” (or something like that) the quick-dial for “911”.

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