Yesterday, much to the relief of many who had protested the service, Digg announced that they are axing the DiggBar as part of their service once the new version of their site launches.
This move comes only days after Kevin Rose took over the CEO reigns from Jay Adelson, who resigned to persue other options, and as the widely anticipated new version of the site is still in beta.
The move is going to be widely welcomed by those who protested the original DiggBar for the way it handled content. It also closes a particularly ugly chapter in the history of Digg where its product has caused it several public relations black eyes.
Last year, almost to the day, Digg introduced the DiggBar, its controversial tool that allowed users to Digg, favorite or share an article without leaving the site. It was introduced along with Digg’s then-new URL shortener, which used the digg,com domain.
The DiggBar created a great deal of controversy because of the way it worked, which was to display an iframe over the page itself, displaying the Digg buttons, logos, etc. over the content. This meant that the content appeared to be hosted on the Digg domain, unlike with other URL shorteners, the link was not simply redirected to the source.
This led to accusations of content theft against the DiggBar. Especially worrisome was the potential search engine implications as, at least theoretically, Google and others would not be able to see where the source of the content was and may rank the Digg URL above the original.
Initially Digg defended its product, saying that it wasn’t evil and that they had taken steps to mitigate against the SEO issues. However, a week after that they relented on several key issues, including having the URL simply redirect for non-logged in users.
Controversy once again arose a few months later when Digg, without warning, changed the way the URLs worked to redirect the short URLs to Digg’s landing page and not the source, this led to accusations of hijacking.
The latter issue was undone after Rose returned from vacation, he had said he was gone when the change was made, indicating that the two may have disagreed over the DiggBar and its place, thus making it one of Rose’s top priorities after taking over the CEO position.
Since then, the DiggBar has remained largely unchanged, until yesterday’s announcement.
No matter the reason though, the DiggBar is dead, or at least will be once the new version of Digg launches shortly. This is a good thing for all the reasons that Rose mentioned in his post but also in that it puts one of Digg’s most controversial elements behind it.
As the new Digg seeks to open up more partnerships with content creators, including having them directly submit their own work, this move seems to be a means to make peace with the content creators who are still upset about the DiggBar and the way it framed their sites.
Hopefully, it will be a lesson other sites learn from. Though, judging from the way Hootsuite and other twitter-oriented URL shorteners are using a similar iframe, it doesn’t seem very likely.