The ethics of v.gd (and why you should support us!)
Our URL shorteners is.gd and v.gd are not only fully featured and easy to use, but are also guaranteed to be run in a completely ethical manner. Here are some of the things that we feel make us an ethical service that you can trust, with some further information below: -
- We pledge to support v.gd as a free service indefinitely and to not introduce charges for services we previously offered for free.
- We pledge never to place 3rd party advertising on the site.
- v.gd doesn't require registration and doesn't collect or track your personal details.
- We are fully carbon neutral.
- v.gd's development is driven by its users' interests, not by investors or shareholders.
- We are hosted and run entirely from the UK and comply fully with its laws.
- We make an API available free of charge so that other applications can harness v.gd.
- We have a clear policy on what we don't allow v.gd to be used for. This includes use for spam, phishing, viruses, adware or child pornography.
- We're one of the most proactive URL shorteners in preventing spam/misuse.
- In running and staffing the site we will never discriminate on the grounds of race, age, gender, sexual orientation, disability, religion or how much you like cake.
- We have a "small and friendly" approach to support - your emails will not be answered by a mindless corporate drone, in fact they're most often dealt with personally by v.gd's creator.
- v.gd is the only major URL shortener we know of that makes a link preview page the default when visiting our URLs. This means our users can be confident of clicking a v.gd link and can always see where they'll be redirected to.
"Ethical" is a term that is too often bandied around as a corporate buzzword. To understand how we can have a credible ethical position in truth and not just in name, here are some details about the site's staff and ownership: -
v.gd's creator and primary maintainer is Richard West, a freelance developer and technologist. Richard is passionate about making the web easier to use and building sites that serve their users rather than corporations. Things he hates with a passion include cluttered websites, animated adverts, popups and spam. As a freelancer, Richard's development of the site is always governed by the interests of its users.
v.gd is wholly owned by Memset, a UK web host. Memset's executive directors, Kate and Nick Craig-Wood, are big fans of v.gd and use it frequently. Memset is owner managed, profitable and debt free, with Kate and Nick owning 90% of the shares. They have avoided external investment so as not to be beholden to corporate greed. This means that v.gd's running and development is free of pressures from investors, shareholders etc.
All of our hosting is carbon neutral and our host is independently annually accredited to confirm this. Memset were the UK's first CarbonNeutral® web host and their directors are passionate environmentalists, enacting policies such as providing staff with electric bicycles free of charge!
The ad-free URL shortener
v.gd will always remain free of any 3rd party advertising. We do mention our owner, Memset, from time to time and we're very open about this. We only do this in an informational way (e.g. to show users who v.gd is supported by) and in a restrained manner (such as via text links). We may also mention other services we own from time to time. You'll never see banner ads or popups on v.gd.
Fast, reliable and looking after your data
We have experience in running a URL shortener that's both fast and reliable and have been running is.gd since 2007 with only around 12 hours of downtime (and no data loss) since it was founded. Our current distributed architecture is also a significant improvement over what we originally used and our sites should handle many billions of shortened URLs. Since our host is also our owner we are much better placed to respond to any infrastructure issues that occur than most websites.
We take all sensible precautions (e.g. RAID to protect against disk failures and redundant power supplies) to keep our critical servers running - our sites' distributed architecture also makes them tolerant against certain failures. Even if something goes catastrophically wrong in a way we haven't foreseen, we take full database backups on a daily basis which we could use to restore from.
and some thoughts from v.gd's creator on why we feel we're better than the competition...
Our URL shorteners are in the fairly unique position of having the support and investment they need to ensure continued service while having an ownership structure that allows us to have a credible ethical policy. We make our intentions clear and we mean what we say. I'd strongly encourage anyone thinking of using v.gd to compare us to our competitors. Check out their websites and make an informed decision on which URL shortener you prefer. Obviously what's most important to you is a very personal decision, but here are a few of the things I'd want to look into: -
- Do they offer all the features I need (e.g. custom URLs or statistics on how URLs are used)?
- Do they have clear terms and conditions I can understand?
- Do I have confidence the service has the infrastructure and support to keep running for as long as I need it?
- If I have problems, can I email someone about them and get a timely response?
- How is the service funded and owned? Is there a danger they'll include adverts on my links or start charging for services that used to be free? Are there commercial pressures from investors or shareholders?
Another thing I think it would be wise to be concerned about is how the domain name the URL shortener uses is administered. This is especially relevant because many short domains used by URL shorteners are owned by nations which don't enjoy the same freedoms many of us take for granted - as such it's quite possible they'll pull the plug on URL shorteners that link to content they don't approve of. This isn't idle speculation either - I'd encourage anyone interested to read about the case of vb.ly, a sex-positive URL shortener which was shut down in this way by Libyan authorities.
The .gd top level domain that v.gd is allocated under is owned by Grenada, a Caribbean island country and Commonwealth realm which thankfully has no history of similar disputes.