A few weeks ago I wrote about the problems with keeping urls alive, and one of my readers raised a very valid point in relation to this that I hadn’t really considered properly when it comes of creating QR codes. I really should have thought of this much sooner, so many thanks to “FreeRangeMom” who flagged up this issue and is keeping me on my toes.
I had naively thought that the url generated by a QR code generator would only have the url I plug into it. This is not the case, it actually routes to your chosen website via their servers. This means that one then is beholden to the server that generated your code for the longevity of it, so then one needs to ensure that not only the server on which their content is hosted is maintained, but also the server which generated the QR code as well.
This then got me thinking about url shortening for QR codes. It has been considered good practice to use a url shortener like bit.ly or tinyURL.com, but if you think about it, this just compounds the problem. Url shorteners do mean that there are less characters to encode in your qr code, meaning less errors are likely to occur whilst scanning. However, url shorteners also mask your ip by redirecting it through that of their service. So… if you use a url shortener you need to hope and pray that their server doesn’t go down either, otherwise you’ll get what is known as Linkrot, defined by Wikipedia as “all URLs related to the service will become broken.”
There are also issues on where the url shortening service is hosted, for example bit.ly is hosted in Libya, which, given the current policitcal instability, may not be the best place to host anything right now.
So, in my opinion using an url shortening service for your QR codes is NOT actually a good idea. A better idea would be to own a short domain name dedicated for QR code linked content & set up file naming conventions which enable as short a name as possible for files without confusion or duplication of names.
As for using QR codes and the risk of linkrot there, the only way to avoid that is to create your own QR code generator and then maintain hosting for as long as you want your links alive. There are open API’s which enable coding of QR code generators, but I need to learn a bit more about them before I can comment. This is a real problem for artists using any type of graphical tagging, because if theyr’re anything like me, they’d much prefer to be making works, rather than sorting out technical problems and getting out of their depth with code.
Response: bar code printing softwareLinkrot in QR-codes, or any graphical tags for that matter... - The hidden message - art practice as research