DiggBar Is Welcome Here

As you have heard, the DiggBar is now considered evil. Steven Hodson has a great rant, where the first paragraph is priceless:

Like most things, we seem to be travelling back in time to pick out the worst shit possible, give it a nifty Web 2.0 type name and then release it upon the world proclaiming it as great stuff. Case in point is social media services like Digg and Facebook bringing back the black plague of iframe software toolbars.

Yes, framing content seems to be back in style due to the URL shorteners and the features that they are adding. Some of the URL shorteners are fighting back because the DiggBar does not “do things right”. BurnURL has stated what the right way is:

One of the changes we recently put live was to remove the Sharebar when we detected the user-agents of Google, Yahoo, MSN and Ask (these four account for the largest portions of search traffic).  These crawlers don’t need to see the Sharebar (as they’re not going to interact wtih it), so we don’t need to serve it to them.  Instead we feed them a 301 redirect.  This tells them the URL that was burned is the original content owner and it should be listed in the index on that topic.  Our shortened URL effectively gets ignored.

Granted, I think this is a good thing, and all framing concepts should use this. The biggest complaints I have heard about the DiggBar is that they “steal traffic” and it is an SEO killer. The DiggBar does display a blog’s content, so I am not sure where people feel they are losing traffic from the DiggBar. It definitely makes traffic from Digg easier to track as there is now one short URL. The SEO killer part is also somewhat humorous. If Digg wants to own Google, they likely will. If you look for something resembling the keywords from your blog post, some of the top results are probably from Digg already. We, the lowly blog owners, are the underdog in that fight. You may be able to surpass Digg if you get enough links and the required PageRank, but you automatically start out way behind Digg.

The biggest issue I have with framing is that it can affect the design and layout of your site. Granted most web designers will laugh at my remark as foolish and ameteur, but most people do not know how to create a truly fluid and resizable layout. Most blogs are dependent upon the theme that they have installed for their blog platform of choice.

Otherwise, I do not care whether users appear with the DiggBar or the BurnURL bar or whatever framing thing they have. I still get traffic in the end, and that is what most people want. So, if you want to use the DiggBar, and other sites are complaining, feel free to come over here. I would welcome the traffic.

8 thoughts on “DiggBar Is Welcome Here

  1. robdiana,
    Perhaps the most important reason for blocking frames, and why they were squashed in the late 1990’s, is the havoc they cause for users. Once a provider (Digg) is allowed to implement them, others will follow and soon the Web will be nothing more than frames within frames (see image below).

    Moreover, because such frames are displayed without the user’s consent on another publisher’s site, Digg and other framers are essentially spamming. I’d even take it a step further and say that if publishers aren’t blocking such frames and therefore are allowing the spam to occur, they are just as responsible.

    Digg is baiting publishers with the promise of greater traffic returns when the fact is that you can improve your traffic stats by actually breaking the DiggBar.


  2. Well Rob, this is one of the rare times you and I disagree.

    I hate the DiggBar. I hate it from a usability standpoint. I hate it from a design standpoint. I hate it from a best practices standpoint.

    – The framing of the sites obfuscates urls and you, as a user, do not know what site you’re being directed to. Not to mention if a user uses the back button. Digg should have allowed users to opt-in, not be forced to deal with the bar and then opt-out after being annoyed. StumbleUpon got it right. Allow users to download a toolbar at will.

    – The design part CAN suck just as bad. That 50px bar can screw up a nicely laid out design. It can also mess with the user’s experience if there are navigational elements on the very top of your page layout. They also hijack a users screen real estate without asking.

    – There’s a reason frames died in the late 90s. Bringing it back doesn’t make it cool again. There are times when going against best practices can yield phenomenal results and put you and your site ahead of the pack. This isn’t one of those times. This, IMHO, is a desperate hacked attempt from digg.

    For a small time blog or website I can see how some people would just LOVE the diggbar to get a little digg-love, but is it worth it? Digg has been shown to be a poor quality traffic provider and this bar will most likely increase that.

    I loved the idea of digg having a url shortener until I attempted to craw a link and found they do not redirect properly and make it a PAIN in the ass get the original or “canonical” url. Even ow.ly isn’t that bad and I detest that shortener.

    Other url shorteners do the same thing as the diggbar and I hate them too for the same reasons above




  3. Rob, BurnURL is straw-manning the debate. DiggBar uses the exact same method BurnURL uses to serve content to search indexes: it’s a broken method, and the issues go way beyond mere SEO (3 Dog Media has a great write up on this, including Digg’s information on what it does for SEO: http://www.3dogmedia.com/truth-about-diggs-diggbar/). The internet community already vetted the idea of framing content in the 90s, and there’s no need to go through it again.


  4. Actually, I should clarify what I said: it’s not the exact same method; it’s effectively the same outcome (DiggBar URLs should not get get indexed). 3 Dog Media goes through Digg’s problems with its implementation, but the idea of serving content that’s one way to users and a different way to Google is against Google’s policies: http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=66355 I wrote about this part of the issue here: http://marktrapp.com/blog/2009/04/04/url-shorteners-are-playing-fire


  5. Brian

    You may disagree with my post as a whole (and that is OK), but we actually agree with the design problem. I believe the bar messes with my blog, as the theme is not overly fluid. The lack of redirection is somewhat annoying as well, and I am not sure why they do not do what other shorteners do with the redirect.


  6. Kevin,

    I understand the problem with the frames, but saying that once one provider starts everyone will do it is not quite right. About.com has been doing this for years. Google does it with their cached versions of pages, though that is a slightly different scenario. Digg was also not the first url shortener to do it. Ow.ly and BurnURL did it first, and StumbleUpon did it earlier than they did.

    It is a slightly disturbing trend, but people seem to be getting more upset because it is Digg and not someone else.


  7. Mark,

    The SEO implications are a little harder to get for most people, and I admit I glossed over them. From the simple perspective, the 301 redirect passes along the search indexer, so you do not really lose the link. Digg hides everything which is good from the “it does not get indexed” perspective, but bad because you lose any SEO help that link could have given you. I am not a professional SEO, so do not take the above as advice.

    The big question is whether the framers like BurnURL are indexed along with the page they are framing. How these things get crawled is an interesting point.


  8. The multiple bars is mostly a null problem
    What sort of user is going to be the 4th to put a bar at the top – are they *really* going to avoid clicking on the cross next to the bars when it starts to get a problem?
    Methinks they won’t

    ps : yes it can be annoying to get those – whine at the people who send you these sorts of links if you want to … i’m sure they’ll stop if it’s really that bad (or block/unfollow/etc)


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