So, here’s how this went down…
I’ve spent most of two years manually posting “new comic” missives to Twitter so that folks who don’t follow the RSS feed (or the one person who follows the LiveJournal rendition of the RSS feed) will know that there’s something to read. Twitter’s been good to me, as occasionally a particular comic will be amusing enough to someone that they’ll “re-tweet” the link so their friends will also come visit and enjoy.
Great! However, this relies on two potentially unreliable things.
One: I have to remember that it’s Monday or Thursday and Twitter needs my attention. I haven’t missed too many days of promoting the comic, but it happens.
Two: In order to keep well under the 140-character limit for Twitter messages, and especially if they’re going to be forwarded by others, what you want to use is a “URL shortening” service. Quite a few exist, and generally they’re reliable and safe… but sometimes I have trouble with one service or another, and it gets tiring to have to dance around and find the right one.
So… I decided that I wanted one of my own.
I spent most of an hour at Hover, my (most excellent) domain registrar, looking for really short domains I could pick up on the cheap. I wasn’t actually surprised that nearly every short word and two- or three-letter acronym I could think of was taken, but I did get frustrated after a while. Finally, I settled on ‘qvack.us’.
Then all it took was to point the domain to my server, reconfigure Apache to add that site, install the rather nifty YOURLS package, get a Twitter API key, install the plugin for WordPress, do some basic configuration… well, okay, I spent a few hours on this.
But it’s worth it: Each comic gets its own short URL (several, actually, due to a WordPress/YOURLS bug, but what’s a few duplicates between friends?) and the Twitter message is posted when the comic goes live.
And I get my own URL shortening for anything else I’d like to link to for my friends on Twitter. Excellent!