It’s incredibly shocking how short some people’s memories are. In the late 1990′s the Web became inundated by frames such that content was practically inaccessible. Fast forward approximately 10 years later and we’re facing the same problem once again. In response to the surging popularity of Twitter and the need to tweet shortened URLs, Digg and others (HootSuite, Krumlr) have resurrected the sleazy technique in an attempt to take advantage of this ever growing trend. By repackaging its frame based toolbar as a social media sharing service Digg hopes to artificially inflate their own visitor statistics and steal traffic from other publishers.
Why Large Publishers Aren’t Breaking Frames
There are several reasons to block the DiggBar including the fact that it 1) steals content, traffic, and potential revenue from publishers, 2) it confuses and spams website visitors, and 3) frames clutter the Web to the point at which content is negated. Despite all these clear problems, many large publishers remain supportive or indifferent towards the DiggBar. A few possible explanations for their position may be that they either don’t comprehend the immensity of the problem, they have a conflict of interest, or they have been duped into believing that the DiggBar can deliver greater traffic to their own website. Albeit we all experience lapses in judgment from time to time, I’m willing to bet that most of the large publishers siding with Digg are doing so because they truly believe that the DiggBar will bring them more visitors (actually, you can increase traffic stats more by blocking the DiggBar). This sort of selfish behavior was not only the driving force that initially caused frames to rapidly populate and corrupt the Web in the 90′s, but it’s exactly what Kevin Rose of Digg is depending on for their spambar to succeed.
Indifferent Publishers Partially Responsible For Spambars
The question as to whether the DiggBar is evil or not seems trivial given that ultimately it’s the publishers that allow the DiggBar to survive. By not acting to stop the use of the DiggBar on their own sites, publishers are indirectly promoting its use and allowing history to repeat itself. It’s quite disheartening that popular Web news sites like TechCrunch, Mashable, and Wired are not taking a defiant stand against such an obvious attempt to abuse the Web for personal gain. I would say that most bloggers, Web entrepreneurs, and internet tech enthusiasts know much better and it’s their own aspirations and pressures to demonstrate traffic growth that’s forcing these large publishers to standby and do nothing.
The same selfish motives cited above are most likely what drove Kevin Rose and Digg workers to create the DiggBar. I say this not only because it’s clearly obvious but also because, from an engineering standpoint, it makes no sense whatsoever. That is, why would you create a frame based toolbar when you can just as easily develop a browser based toolbar that can functionally meet all the same requirements without upsetting publishers or starting another backlash against frames? The answer is unequivocally that you cherish the end result (i.e. greater traffic) more than you do the integrity of the means in which it’s obtained.
Thankfully not everyone is willing to sacrifice their brand’s integrity for the chance at a few more visitors. In fact, while writing this article I was able to quickly identify 5 major publishers that are standing up against the DiggBar and breaking it. To my disappointment, however, I was also able to quickly find 5 major technology sites that do not block it.
5 Publishers That Are Blocking The DiggBar
- New York Times
- National Public Radio
- O’Reilly Media
- Search Engine Land
5 Publishers That Aren’t Blocking The DiggBar
- Silicon Alley Insider
Giving Digg A Taste Of Its Own Medicine
Perhaps it’s going to have to come to a point where Digg’s own site is being framed before they realize the seriousness of the problem? While they currently don’t allow you create shortened Digg URLs of their own website. You can indeed frame Digg using another URL shortener and re-shorten that using Digg’s shortening service. Thus, I thought it might drive home the point if I framed Digg to give them a taste of their own medicine. I’m very curious as to whether or not we can digg Digg and at the same time educate the masses as to why framing is not such a great idea after all. So feel free to share this article as many times as you want as well as digg the framed version of Digg I created. It will be very interesting to see how many Diggs we can get until they start blocking frames.If you liked this article, please take this time to share it with your Facebook friends using the Facebook button (see Facebook post button to the left) or retweet it using Twitter (see retweet button to the left). You may also want to follow us or subscribe to the site to stay up-to-date with this article. If you'd rather follow us from your Facebook account, join our Facebook fan page or subscribe to our NetworkedBlogs profile.
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