Digg Relents on DiggBar


In a post on the official Digg blog, John Quinn has announced several changes to the controversial DiggBar, including two changes that are aimed at appeasing Webmasters upset with the bar appearing on their site.

First, the DiggBar will no longer show up on users that are not logged in to Digg. This means most visitors that click Digg-shortened URLs, such as those posted on Twitter, will be redirected (via a 301) to the original site and will bypass the Diggbar. This makes Digg URLs function the same as TinyURL and other URL-shortening services.

Likewise, links on the Digg homepage will not display the DIggBar for users who are not logged in.

Second, they are making it easier for Digg users that don’t want the bar to opt out. They are working on making the process more obvious. This comes in response to some who complained that the option was difficult to find.

The end result is that those who are not logged into Digg and those who are but have opted out of the DiggBar should never see it again. Only users who are actively logged into Digg and opted to view the DiggBar will see it and they will continue to do so both on Digg’s site and on shortened Digg URLs.

Digg hopes to push these changes through next week though the homepage has already stopped linking to the DiggBar for users who are not logged in. However, shortened Digg URLs still, in some cases, show the Diggbar whether the user is logged in or not.

This is actually the second round of changes to the DiggBar since it was announced. The first saw Digg switch to JavaScript based linking, so search engines would not see the DiggBar when indexing Digg’s homepage, and use Meta tags to block search engines from indexing DiggBar URLs. Though these changes were a positive step forward, they were not enough to completely quiet the criticisms about the DiggBar.

Digg hopes that this new round of changes will finally satiate the bloggers and other webmasters that have railed on it for the past two weeks.

Is It Enough?

For those that have been concerned about SEO issues, this should finally put those problems completely to rest. Though the previous round of changes should have prevented DiggBar URLs from appearing in the search results, this round will ensure that “link juice” flows correctly, including over the shortened URLs, which now will use a 301 redirect.

For those who hate framing on principle and all of its forms, these changes will be slightly less than satisfying. Though this is definitely a good step forward, the fact is the DiggBar will still be framing sites, albeit in a much more limited capacity.

Regarding the legal issues, the trademark issues have likely been lessened as there is less likelihood of confusion when the Bar is only shown to existing Digg members that understand what the bar is and does. The potential copyright issues and interference issues, however, remain though the likelihood of them being seriously raised are much less.

All in all, I don’t think this is going to put an end to all of the controversy over the DiggBar, but if Kevin Muldoon’s post on BloggingTips (a site I also write for) is any indication, it has gone a long way toward mending bridges. Muldoon even added back the Digg button after removing it due to the DiggBar.

Bottom Line

Though I don’t think this will completely end the controversy over the DiggBar, it will likely put the vast majority of it to rest. Most webmasters that were upset about the DiggBar will likely be satisfied by these changes though there will be some who take an absolutist view on frames that will not.

However, for those that don’t want even this very limited use of the DiggBar on their site, I would encourage you to add a frame breaking script to your site to ensure it doesn’t appear.

The sad and worrisome news though is that Digg was not the first and will not be the last site to use frames in this manner. Several others do right now.

The larger issue of framing is not going away any time soon. As content creators and webmasters, we need to be ready for it.

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