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Digg Hijacking Your Links!

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Contributor:
David Silversmith
David Silversmith

There are many ways to get shortened URLs and Digg joined in this world a few months ago with the URL shortening service DiggBar.  They hit some initial controversy, but that ended today when a new change ignited major controversy as they are essentially stealing visitor traffic.

When you use a link-shortening service, you create a link and anyone who clicks on your shortened link is sent directly to the original web page that you’ve linked to.  This is how every link shortener works, from Bit.ly to Awe.sm, with the key element being the shortened URL directly sending you to the original web page. 

Until this weekend DiggBar worked basically the same way - the only difference being that Diggbar inserted a frame at the top of the page. DiggBar just changed this such that when you click on a DiggBar link and are not logged in as a Digg user you are not sent to the original page.  Instead you are sent to a Digg page rather than to the original web page.

Let's put this into a real example.  Say I use DiggBar to create a short URL that redirects to this Voxy article on shortened URLs at http://www.voxy.co.nz/technology/twitter-your-links-style/893/13768.  When users click on the shortened URL they are directed to to Digg’s page about Voxy - not to the actual page on the Voxy website. In short - Digg is hijacking the traffic.

It does not take much to figure out why this is good for Digg - every single non-member to click a Diggbar link is being sent to Digg.com, which means the site is going to get new users and a nice big traffic boost!  But the user - all the user gets is a poor user experience with each user essentially having to visit a Digg landing page before they can get to the actual page they wanted to see.

Amazingly, the founder of Digg, Kevin Rose, fresh off a two week vacation, has posted a Twitter message to say he had no idea the change was happening. In this Twitter message he said “just now reading the digg short url discussion, I was not aware this changed and will check in on it tomorrow (was on vacation for 2 weeks).”

To make matters even worse, all previously created Digg URLs now redirect to Digg.com. So if I have created and posted links to Voxy, nNow Digg has decided it would be better for my followers to visit the Digg site, even though that wasn’t my intent when creating the links.

Given Kevin Rose's comments, and the uproar, it seems likely that we will see Digg recant on this feature.  But, how many users will they lose due to this "bait and switch" approach.

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