My answer involves networking-related infrastructure administration, specifically DNS. The question is more about being a power browser user.

I guess the particulars - that is, the Q and A belong in a comment, but I doubt they'd fit so I'll put 'em here for now.

Q: URLs for articles in PubMed are unreasonably long, e.g. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1, where 1 is the article's 'PMID'. What's a short alternative? (This question could be generalized, but I don't know of an answer that is site-independent.). There's gotta be an easier way than using an URL shortener each time! Many researchers use these things all day every day...

I've done a bunch of googling and tried a bunch of URLs that one would want to have work, like https://pubmed.gov/1, and none of them worked.

A: Use an URL like http://p.elvey.com/1 - it just works. And if you want to know how I did it and/or to set up your own URL redirect (say, if you don't want to trust me) here's how I did it.

I had used the service at ebayitem.com in the past, and wanted something similar, but no on seemed to have done it. I logged into my DNS management system set up a few different hostnames (A records) with IPs of the PubMed servers, and others as URL redirects, to see if I could make one that worked. I found that setting up the hostname p as a 301-style URL redirect to http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed was the best solution, resulting in the shortest URLs. It works perfectly, and should be stable at least as long as I'm breathing or my business is around. And HSTS upgrades it to a secure connection.

I set up an URL redirect in the "DNS" settings for a domain I control. (Technically, an URL redirect relies on more than just a DNS redirect, but most registrars and DNS providers support them, so let's ignore that.)

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25545022 shortens to
p.elvey.com/25545022 !

PS. Ah, damn. After all that, I thought to check a couple more hosts. Yup. pubmed.com/25545022 works great, and the domain is registered to the NIH. Still, both could be improved. Neither is entirely over HTTPS, but could be. And someone else is going to google and find this Q&A.

It looks like the guidelines on whether a question and its answer are more on or off topic are based more on the question than any answers. So what the answer teaches is less important than what the question asks. That's an odd way of organizing information, IMO, but that's the way the guidelines are written. Even though in general, I think the answers are more useful to folks than the questions.

  • As for the specific Q&A: Networking-related infrastructure administration, is clearly a Serverfault topic, as is setting up DNS records, but those are part of the answer, not the question, which is about a power user tool. – Matthew Elvey Oct 16 at 23:50
  • It is not clear exactly what problem you are trying to solve. Why do you think your example link is unreasonably long? In any case I would use some kind of text expansion macro instead of all this DNS redirection stuff. – DavidPostill Oct 17 at 14:30

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