1. The DiggBar is Not Evil

    digg-logojpg

    Over the last few weeks, Digg’s new “DiggBar” has been kicking up a fair amount of controversy. So far, I’ve seen a fairly even split between the people who like it and those that seem to think it’s worth blocking Digg traffic over.

    The more vocal group is of course those that don’t like it. I won’t bother linking all the articles that are anti-Diggbar, however, the one that caused me to comment was one from John Gruber, of whom I am a huge fan and long-time reader. His recent post How to Block the DiggBar made me review and think about the bar in a more critical light.

    His primary argument is that the DiggBar breaks an old “understanding” in the web world that framing someone else’s content is wrong.

    All sorts of sites tried this sort of trickery back in the mid-’90s when Netscape Navigator 2.0 added support for the <frameset> tag. It did not take long for a broad consensus to develop that framing someone else’s site was wrong. URLs are the building block of the Web. They tell the user where they are. They give you something to bookmark to go back or to share with others.

    The DiggBar breaks that, and I’ve seen no argument that makes it any more sense to support this than it does to support 1996-style <frameset> site embedding.

    Daring FireBall, 04/09/2009 – How to Block the DiggBar

    I remember the Netscape Navigator days and I remember this exact problem that Mr Gruber is talking about. The old method used a purely <frameset> setup and with the limited support for frames that this browser had, it was a horrible idea…. However, it’s 2009 and I think I have to respectfully disagree with Greg.

    Why the DiggBar isn’t Evil

    If the DiggBar was simply a bar that sends you back to Digg, and was 100% focused on retaining your traffic I would agree with Greg. However, as social media services like Digg and Twitter begin to shape the way we share information online, the DiggBar has proven to be a useful tool for me.

    The DiggBar loads up all the features I need in order to share a link with other people within 1 click. More than likely, these friends have Facebook, Digg and Twitter accounts so when they recieve my super-short url it’s already setup for them to share, RT on Twitter or favorite in their Digg account.

    It Helps my Digg Account Too!

    Another reason I like the tool is that now I am able to use all the functionality that Digg offers but with much less effort. I can favorit, Digg or Bury articles without needing to digg through article comments and I can easily find related stories right from the bar.

    This has improved the effectiveness of Digg for me because I am now using all the needed Digg features in order for them to serve up more links that I’m interested in.

    Digg’s Official Comments

    There were many additional complaints and concerns with the DiggBar, such as: SEO concerns, hogging traffic, messing up ad-revenue, etc, that website publishers were concnerned about.

    John Quinn recently wrote a response regarding these concerns on the Digg Blog:

    Prior to launching the DiggBar, we reached out to Google and SEO experts to ensure we adhered to the leading best practices, as we framed and linked directly to source content via the DiggBar. This process involved gathering feedback from publishers to ensure the execution was as content-provider-friendly as possible. We took several steps to ensure that search engines continue to count the original source, versus registering the DiggBar as new content. We include only links to the source URLs on Digg pages to allow spiders to see the unmodified links to source sites. These links are overwritten to short URLs in JavaScript for users who have this preference.

    John Quinn 04/07/2009 – Source

    It appears to me that they have made every effort possible to make the bar as unobtrusive as possible while offering some real value to people using both their website and who are dipping into social media to share information and connect with others.

    What are your thoughts regarding the new DiggBar?

    Update – 4/10/09

    I’m never one to say I’m not wrong, especially after general concensus is that I am wrong!

    After doing some reading, I’ve found a few resources that offer strong, well detailed reasoning as to why you should block the DiggBar.

    I’d be interested in seeing what the result of this is: Will Digg make the Diggbar an opt-in service instead of opt-out, will content publishers see a big enough increase of traffic that they stop blocking the bar?

    Update – 4/11/09

    Some questions:

    • Could the fact that many extremely popular sites like Facebook and Digg are framing their content and people seeing a spike in traffic also mean that they are changing the way people browse the web? Should content publishers take a serious look at this instead of digging their heels in at the first sight of innovation?
    • Would you turn away a 20% jump in traffic to your site form a highly popular site simply because it doesn’t fit your revenue and publishing model?
    • Does this make anyone possibly think of classic newspapers and press that are dying because they have refused to adapt to the changes in technology?
    • Social media sites like Facebook (200+ Million users) and Twitter (2 Million and growing users) might be signaling a change in how people use the web. Isn’t it dangerous for publishers to simply ignore this?
    • What could be even worse for these publishers is if they adopt these social media sites in token only, put for tepid efforts to adapt, and then are crushed by newer more agile sites that are willing to adapt.

    Just some thoughts… I’d love to hear yours!

    Update: 4/15/09

    Digg’s John Quinn gives us an update on the DiggBar based on feedback from users.

    According to John, all of Digg’s shortened URLS will be properly setup as 301 redirects so that Google’s Search Engines will properly index the original posts. >

    Additionally, the only people who will see the DiggBar are people who are Digg users that have chosen to view them!

    Read the full post from John Quincy here.

    This should address people’s concerns and hopefully we can get people to stop blocking Digg traffic!