Digg Responds, Says DiggBar Not Evil



In a post on their blog this morning, Digg answered many of the concerns and accusations that have been filed over its new DiggBar service (previous coverage) in an attempt to quell some of the backlash.

In their response, Digg claims that they took several steps to ensure that the DiggBar was fair to publishers, including the following:

  • JavaScript-Based Linking: The links on Digg’s page are actually links to the original source, but they are modified using JavaScript for visitors that have that option selected. Search engines can’t see JavaScript and, theoretically, should only be directed to the original content. Registered users can turn this off by visiting their Settings and editing their Viewing Preferences.
  • Canonical Links and Meta Tags: In an update earlier this week, the DiggBar now identifies the source URL as canonical, indicating that it is the original source of the content, not the DiggBar URL. Furthermore, the new Digg URL pages now also include a meta “noindex” tag to ensure that the Digg page is not indexed in the major search engines.
  • Working with Web Analytics Companies: Digg also said they have worked with many different Web analytics firms, including Comscore, Nielsen, Quantcast and Compete to ensure that the source URL will be credited for the traffic. They have confirmed, on all of those sites, that it should work as planned.

The reaction to this has been very postive, include articles both on Mashable and on TechCrunch that are supportive of the changes, the latter even saying, “So crisis averted… Whew, no [sic] I can go back to using the Diggbar.”

However, the comments on both posts have been less enthusiastic. Both sites have commenters that are still critical of the change and are not satiated by the fixes.

Clearly this controversy is going to be continuing for quite some time.

My Thoughts

There isn’t much doubt that this is a step in the right direction. Though I’m going to withhold judgment until I see evidence that these steps are actively helping Webmasters, especially those who had already seen some of their links in Google get replaced by Digg’s, the “noindex” alone shows a willingness to at least make some concessions to publishers.

Though, theoretically, the Digg URLs should not be making it into any search index anywhere, it would still clearly be better for publishers if those URLs didn’t exist at all or forwarded the traffic on directly.

Furthermore, this doesn’t do anything to address the legal concerns listed in the previous post on the topic. The copyright, trademark and tortuous interference issues remain as do all of the non-SEO related ethical issues, including advertising and visitor interference.

Though I’m going to sleep better tonight knowing that the DiggBar has at least done what it can to resolve the SEO issues, which were at least the most immediate of the concerns, there are still many other issues that need to be addressed.

However, I think the best comment on the subject came from Kevin at ToMuse, who reminded me that the reason framing was abandoned in the late nineties, when it first became popular, was because it caused problems with visitors and the Web at large. As more sites used frames, frames began to open up within other frames, creating a mess.

Since only a few sites use frames now, the problem isn’t there yet. But with Digg and Facebook both using the technique, it is only a matter of time before more sites take it up. As this frame monster I created with help from friends on Twitter shows, it’s already possible with a little effort (special thanks to @jfredson).

Though the immediate problems with the DiggBar seem to have been dealt with, the longer term ones remain. Let’s hope that the problem is averted as I don’t think anyone who developed sites in the mid to late nineties wants to go through the “frame wars” all over again.

Want to Republish this Article? Request Free Permission Here. It's Free.


  1. I think the steps'd made the digg users satisfied. I hope so. I found and read a lot of interesting articles thru digg. They can apply the frame things, but the content authority must go to their writers, so it's fair =)

  2. While these are certainly steps in the right direction, there are still some MAJOR unresolved issues here.In terms of SEO, the benefit from inbound links is not going to pass through a canonical tag. I'm sorry, it just won't. So, any time anyone links to the Diggbar URL instead of YOUR URL, you're getting screwed by the Diggbar.Also, and probably more importantly, Digg has no right to frame my pages. They're profiting from it through more page views, increased user activity etc, and as a content producer, the only way I can stop it, is to put frame busting code on my page which can cause problems for all sorts of other legitimate plugins or tools.Digg offers badges that people can put on their site if they want people to be able to digg from the story, so why not make this framing something similar? I realize it wouldn't benefit Digg nearly as much, but they also wouldn't be stealing my content.

  3. Excellent job of pointing out that the problem is not at all solved. Again, I think perhaps one of the most important issues is that, like you showed (http://unhub.com/digghijack), these frames create a total mess of the web. I was able to even take it a step further and re-shorten a few more of the shortened url to create this and hopefully drive home the point: http://tomuse.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/mu…..What most people fail to realize is that, because the user is not requesting or giving permission to Digg and the other offenders to display these frames is that it is essentially spamming them. I like to call it "FRAME SPAMMING": http://tomuse.com/framing-spam-diggbar-facebook…..

  4. I hope someone sues them. It's essentially spamming in the sense that when you click on a shortened Digg link or a re-shortened Digg link it shows the frame without the users consent to do so (see link for further explanation in my comment below)

  5. There's still a lot of unanswered issues here. Though there has been some things done to satisfy content creators, there are still many long term problems that need to be addressed before I'll be satisfied. It seems that there are still no shortage of visitors that dislike the new DiggBar, a plea to not immitate even reached number one on Reddit.

  6. I agree that the canonical tag won't help much, mainly because it is meant to be a tag to deal with duplicate content on the same domain, not cross domains. For example, you put it on tag pages to keep it from duplicating your individual posts. However, since the addition of the noindex tag, ther SHOULD be no Digg URLs in Google, though it is not clear if any of the link juice will pass.I agree with your frustrations on the framing issue. I am not using a frame buster and probably want because there are legitimate uses for framing, but it is easy to see why many are upset about the way Digg is handling this issue.Finally, I also agree that this system should be opt in. If I am fine with the framing, I could allow it. But the problem there is that there is no real way to indicate this. Robots.txt doesn't do anything other than switch indexing on or off and there is no META standard. Sadly, I don't think there is a practical way to opt in or out for that matter.

  7. That's a great URL We'll have to keep on top of this and keep adding frames to it as we build out. It'll be interesting to see how long before the site is not visible "above the fold" as it is on the Web.Interesting comment and name in frame spamming, something for me to definitely think about…

  8. You can also click the red "X" to close most popups but I'll wager that you still surf the Web with some form of popup blocking.Just because you can close a Web annoyance doesn't make it any less annoying…