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Frequently Asked Questions

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About the Service

What is Go.USA.gov?
Go.USA.gov is a URL shortener for government employees. It takes a long URL, like http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/Environment-Agriculture.shtml, and turns it into a short URL like http://go.usa.gov/TBUj.

Go.USA.gov is only open to government employees and only shortens government URLs - that is: .mil, .gov, .fed.us, .state.xx.us and .si.edu URLs.

Go.USA.gov also tracks the number of clicks each shortened URL receives, allowing users to measure the impact of their outreach.

Who can use Go.USA.gov?
You must have a verifiable U.S. federal, state, or local government e-mail address to register for a Go.USA.gov account. If you are a government employee, but are unable to register, please contact us.

Does Go.USA.gov have an API?
Yes. Learn more about it on our blog or view the documentation.

What is Go.USA.gov's Privacy Policy?
Our privacy policy is simple. We only collect personal information required to issue a login ID to people who have a government issued e-mail account. For more details, read our Privacy Statement.

What can I expect from Go.USA.gov?
Go.USA.gov is available "as is." We strive to keep the service stable and reliable, but can’t guarantee 100% availability. If you shorten a URL using Go.USA.gov and the original URL changes, Go.USA.gov can’t guarantee that our link will redirect to the correct location. However, we definitely want to know if you encounter a problem or issue with Go.USA.gov. Please contact us if you experience problems or have suggestions for improving Go.USA.gov.

We also post notifications of scheduled maintenance and other updates on Twitter at @GoUSAgov.

Who developed Go.USA.gov?
USA.gov developed Go.USA.gov in coordination with members of the Drupal community.

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About Short URLs and Analytics

How often are user analytics updated?
The "Recently Shortened Links" analytics found on the home page are updated within minutes of shortening a URL. The analytics on the URLs you shortened are updated constantly.

Why are the metrics reported on Go.USA.gov different than what my other analytic tools show?
Unfortunately, we were not able to exclude bot traffic from the click count for short URLs created before August 21, 2013. This means that a click was recorded every time a person clicked on your link and when a machine "clicked" on it while running an automated task.

Short URLs created after August 21, 2013 should have more accurate click counts because we excluded most search engine bot traffic. We can't promise that all bot traffic will be blocked, but we have taken steps to exclude the major search engines.

Do Go.USA.gov links ever expire?
No. Short links created by Go.USA.gov will always redirect to their assigned URL.

Can I delete a Go.USA.gov link?
No. Go.USA.gov links are permanant by design and cannot be deleted once created.

Is there a character limit for URLs that can be shortened by Go.USA.gov?
Yes. Currently, URLs must be 1,024 characters or less to shorten correctly.

Why not Go.gov?
Go.USA.gov was created to serve citizens and we believe that including USA.gov in the shortened URLs makes them more intuitive and meaningful to users. Many Internet users may not realize that .gov is the exclusive top-level domain of the U.S. government, and USA.gov adds valuable context to the short URLs.

Should I use a shortened URL in a print publication? 
No. Only use shortened URLs in a situation when the URL is clickable. Experience has shown us that people have trouble when they see a shortened URL in a print publication and then try to type the URL in the address bar of their browser. They may only type “go.usa.gov” or make a typographical error, that will send them to the Go.USA.gov home page and make them (understandably) frustrated and confused because they can’t find what they came for.

How do I create 1.USA.gov URLs?
Anyone—including non government employees—can create 1.USA.gov URLs by using Bitly.com or any service that uses Bitly’s API to shorten a .gov or .mil URL. Learn more about the difference between Go.USA.gov and 1.USA.gov.

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About Custom Short URLs

Can I create custom Go.USA.gov URLs, such as Go.USA.gov/wildfires?
No. This is a feature of other URL shorteners, but we’re still not sure if we want to implement this on Go.USA.gov. See our blog for a detailed explanation.

Can the short URLs Go.USA.gov produces be customized for my agency, such as Go.EPA.gov?
No. This is not possible with the current Go.USA.gov configuration. Also, USA.gov adds valuable context to the short URLs since many Internet users do not recognize agency acronyms.

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Get Help and Contact Us

Whom do I contact with questions or problems about Go.USA.gov or 1.USA.gov?
You can e-mail us at go.usa.gov@gsa.gov, or you can contact us on Twitter at @GoUSAgov.

I forgot my password. How do I log in?
We’ll help you get a new password. If you do not receive the password reset e-mail, please send us a message at go.usa.gov@gsa.gov. Learn more about this issue.

I forgot my username. How do I log in?
As long as you know the e-mail address you used to set up your account, we’ll help you get a new user name and password.

I have some ideas to improve Go.USA.gov. How can I help?
Go.USA.gov is open source, and was developed in Drupal using the theme base BlueprintDrupal CoreShortenShort URL, and TLD restriction modules. If you want to contribute to Go.USA.gov, please contact us.

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