Did Digg Just “Bait & Switch” Twitter Users?

UPDATE: This image speaks for itself:


UPDATE: Leo Laporte had Digg co-founder Kevin Rose on his show and asked him about this. You can see it on Twit Live – the Diggbar discussion starts at the 11:26 mark.  Here is an excerpt:

  • (Laporte gives Rose the background from an article on Techcrunch)
  • Laporte: Is that true?
  • Rose: That’s a good question.
  • Laporte: You don’t know?
  • Rose: I’ve been gone for 2 weeks so I don’t know what got pushed, what code got pushed and how it functions but my last understanding is that what we wanted to do is have it so that if you click on a Digg URL it takes you to the Digg stories so you can Digg it. Rather than providing a short URL service that just forwards and does redirection we would just do a URL service just for Digg articles. Just like the same way that Techcrunch does “techcrunch slash 85374” – if you go to that you’re not going to go to some other site you’re going to go to techcrunch. That’s the story.
  • Laporte: So you’re backing off on the original idea which is a general URL shortening service…
  • Rose: Correct.

UPDATE: Digg has confirmed via email that this is not a mistake and the shortener is working as intended.

UPDATE: Let Digg know how you feel through Twitter. Send an @digg via @socialnews reply and your tweets will be posted here as well.

TweetEither there’s an error happening with Diggbar or Digg just made a big mistake.  Before, those who clicked on the links when not logged into Digg would be taken to the source image, article, or video.

Upside Down DiggRecently, the links have been switched to point to a Digg landing page if you aren’t logged in – the pages where the story is posted on Digg, not the original source.

No word from Digg regarding this. No blog post. No onsite message. No reply to a recent email. They dropped it in and now it appears that they’re seeing if it sticks.

I’m still holding onto hope that it’s a mistake and not a conscious choice.

Joel Mackey, a top user on Twitter, editor of Open Press Wire, and former Digg user, first noticed the change on Wednesday.

WebAddict“I supported Digg and my buddies and willingly retweeted their stuff when Digg forwarded to the content because I knew it benefited BOTH parties,” he said. “Digg users got Diggs from my Digg followers and Twitter users and zombies got content.”

Here is the thread as he tested the change through his 75k+ followers. It’s in reverse chronological order.

Diggbar Change

MrBabyManAndrew Sorcini, the most prolific Digg user as MrBabyMan, said, “Sending someone who visits a site via a Digg URL automatically to the submission page on Digg will seriously hamper the functionality of Diggbar as a URL shortening service.”

When Digg removed the internal “Shout” feature and integrated with Twitter and Facebook, users flocked to these sites as a way to spread their content. The Diggbar URL shortener attached to the these new share options allowed users to Tweet content they found on or submitted to Digg. Sending unauthenticated clicks to the landing page has forced many to abandon using Diggbar altogether.

Primatage“I won’t be tweeting Digg links anymore. The majority of my followers on twitter are not diggers,” said Matthew Rogers, a Digg user with a 55% front page percentage.  “When they click a link to read something I’ve tweeted, they expect to be taken to the page I’ve described, not Digg.”

Private chat rooms have been buzzing about this since Mackey’s find.  Dozens of top users have been looking for an alternative URL shortener.

There seems to be three possible explanations for this move:

  1. It’s an error. I emailed Digg to bring it to their attention, just in case.
  2. It’s a test. Digg is known to make potential features live for a period of time to collect data. This would explain the lack of a blog post regarding the change.
  3. It’s a “bait and switch”. They see the popularity of the Diggbar shortener as an opportunity to get non-users to visit the site, most notably from Twitter.

If it turns out to be #3 and this is made permanent, it will be the end of Diggbar’s usefulness on Twitter. Self-respecting users will not spam their followers with links to a landing page.

Diggbar as a shortener has been successful up until now. It has nice features including traffic counts and an ability to shorten a URL from the navigation bar by simply typing “digg.com/” before the target URL.  The convenience of a Twitter button on the story page has helped it to grow.

If this sticks, the growth is over. Digg’s URL shortener will no longer be a player in the crowded field.

* * *

Read more news about Digg at Social News Watch.

Leave a Reply


  1. This is really messed up. I was actually embarrassed when I discovered I’d been sending people to Digg landing pages. Most of my Twitter followers are not Diggers, though many are. But even the Diggers don’t want to be sent to a Digg landing page. They want to see the article, then decide whether to digg it. That’s akin to stumbling someone a Digg page. Bad form and lame. If this is not changed back, my days of using the Diggbar are over.

  2. Dude this is seriously messed up. Most of my twitter followers are not digg users and this means I have been unknowingly spamming my followers digg landing pages all this past week. That’s not cool at all.

  3. JP

    I believe that is called pageview skimming.

  4. Digg needs to look at StumbleUpon and Bitly. Both services give you stats and graphs and don’t play around with their valued end users.

    Plus StumbleUpon hasn’t taken the Social, out of social bookmarking. All of Diggs moves have been anti-social.

  5. I’ve heard some positive feedback about stumble upons URL shortener su.pr ? I tried it once and liked it.
    Read a great comparison of URL shorteners the one with add on function triggers (appended to the end of the URL) was my favorite by for the life of menu can’t find the original post

  6. This is messed up, I can’t share digg urls on twitter anymore because now they are basically just spam.

  7. Not cool! This story got picked up by Mashable too.

  8. I’ve got su.pr so I can’t or shouldn’t complain about StumbleUpon ‘s baby because we’ve had a lot of hits form using it.

    So it is not doing what Digg does. Our analytics stats show that we are getting the hits.

    But visitors see our site within the StumbleUpon frame, and although they can click around and use our site, they are still not ‘in’ our site.

    So they can’t bookmark it (though of course they can give it a thumbs up) without cutting out the stumble part of the URL (who’s going to bother to do that).

    Not sure where Stumble is going to go with this.

  9. The diggbar was lame when it came out and even worse now. Bit.ly is much more useful with its functionality and api access for third party apps.

  10. I wish url shortening services were not shoved down our throats thats what I wish. If I can fit my url into my tweets without needing a url shortening service, then twitter shouldn’t automatically shorten my urls.

    If I want to shorten a url I should have to goto a service whose site is designed to do that. Posting digg links was fine but to automate it is not fine. And what of the people whose websites have been blacklisted by digg? My marketing site was blacklisted just for being a marketing site (straight from digg I still have the email). What happens when the retweeters try to feed that through the automated shortening services? I am just sick of the world trying to automate everything, it doesn’t make things simpler it makes them more complicated!

  11. Using Diggbar as anything other than vehicle to promote a digg submission has always been a really bad idea to me. I don’t care what they did -or- didn’t say about how the thing would work, why would anyone want to use this for vanilla link sharing?? It makes no sense at all. Bit.ly is million times better for that.

  12. Definitely no one like a redirect in this way

  13. This is pretty disappointing stuff to see from Digg. I thought they were better than this.
    I’d only recently started to use their short urls, not for twitter but mainly for facebook updates etc, where a short url isn’t necessary, just more aesthetically pleasing. Sure, I used them tpo post links to articles I’d found on Digg.com itself but I know a lot of my friends are unfamiliar with the way Digg works meaning that, if they click the link to the article I now post, a lot of my friends won’t understand where the hell they’ve been sent to unless they land directly on the page with the content I’d like them to see.

    I mean, I wish a lot of my friends were using Digg. The site itself is awesome when you’ve got an hour or so to kill and Diggnation is friggin’ awesome to watch each week. But a lot of my friends will never have any use for Digg.com besides maybe clicking on the short url to get to the article I’d like to share.

  14. Mr Obvious

    Keep on using URL shorteners! HAHAHAAH 😀

    What did you guys expect… that someone will provide free shortening (cough bullcrap cough) service forever???

    Just wait, next one that pulls the same is just around the corner.

  15. Glen

    Over-react much? I don’t like going to the digg landing page and having to click a second time, but all these posts about “end of the web” etc are a bit (lot) hyperbolic. Calm the hell down, you make it seem like your “followers” will all abandon you if you send them to one digg landing page, if that is so, maybe it’s for the best.
    Your “follower” count is not that important, it’s not a cult and they won’t take up arms for you when the ATF come swarming your house.

    Even with the digg bar before, I would click on the actual link before emailing it out, a lot of people (especially people not familiar with twitter) don’t understand URL shorteners and won’t follow a random looking link.

  16. My Bimbo

    Digg heaves. When are you Digg fangirls going to learn.

  17. Lol – I never used the digg shortening service cos it seemed to me they were trying to trick people. Seems I was right.

    I love digg, but they seem to be making a few big mistakes lately and really disrespecting their userbase.

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