When Digg launched the DiggBar early this month, it wasn't immediately clear how people would respond.
It didn't take long, however, to find out what website owners thought about it as the DiggBar was met with immediate criticism, resistance and anger. From arguments that Digg was essentially stealing content to concerns about the impact of the DiggBar on SEO, many were voting to 'bury' the DiggBar.
Daring Fireball's John Gruber put together a PHP-based solution for blocking it, complete with a blunt message for the folks at Digg: "Framing sites is bullshit."
In a blog post, he wrote:
All sorts of sites tried this sort of trickery back in the mid-’90s when Netscape Navigator 2.0 added support for the <frameset> tag. It did not take long for a broad consensus to develop that framing someone else’s site was wrong. URLs are the building block of the Web. They tell the user where they are. They give you something to bookmark to go back or to share with others.
The DiggBar breaks that, and I’ve seen no argument that makes it any more sense to support this than it does to support 1996-style <frameset> site embedding.
He wasn't the only person to label the DiggBar 'evil', either implicitly or explicitly. While Digg initially tried to defend itself, that did little to convince most publishers and yesterday Digg relented. In the next week, Digg will redirect anonymous users to dugg content using a 301 redirect; only logged in users who haven't opted out from using the DiggBar will still see the DiggBar.
Obviously, this won't go far enough for some but as Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land said, it seems like a reasonable compromise, all things considered.
Unfortunately, as one commenter suggested:
I think that this type of framing is something that’s going to become an increasingly common (and annoying) part of the web landscape as the web 2.0 model brings more and more visitors...
...the fact that it does increase traffic metrics is why it’s not likely to go away.
If anything has been learned from the DiggBar, it's that framing content is as unpopular in 2009 as it was in 1999. So popular startups had better think twice before they do it. Try again in another 10 years.
Photo credit: digitalsimulacra via Flickr.