Digg Diverting Traffic Away From Web PublishersPosted by Loki on Jul 21, 2009 in FAIL, Online PR, Social Media | 5 comments
I’m sure many readers are already familiar with Digg, the socially promoted news website. I’m also sure that regular users of Twitter make up a significant number of those people as well. This post is for everyone, but most especially those in the crossover category.
You see, when you send a link over twitter you want it as short as possible. With only 140 characters to work with space is at an obvious premium. There are a variety of services, including Digg that provide URL shorteners. Bit.ly, Ow.ly, and TinyURL being a few others (I use ow.ly because it is integrated with HootSuite which is my preferred twitter management tool).
Not all link shorteners are alike, and Digg’s has just crossed a line as far as I am concerned. You see they have enacted what I see from a professional standpoint as a rather shady new wrinkle in the way their service works. You see if you are a non Digg user or a logged out Digg user following their short URLs drop you on a page within the Digg website rather than going to the link in question.
I’m sure this is capturing a lot of extra hits for Digg, but in a fashion that I find ethically questionable. Be aware that if you use Digg’s short URL’s you will be losing a large percentage of the incoming traffic those links should produce.
Mashable’s Pete Cashmore has a nice column about this which points out the fact that you may not always know when your favorite application is using Digg:
The move has many implications which are sure to irk Digg’s most valuable source of traffic and content: the publishers. Not only is Digg diverting traffic away from publisher sites, but many Twitter applications added Digg URL support on the assumption that Digg URLs would always work the same way as Bit.ly, TinyURL and the rest.
For instance, Tweetmeme, the service we use at Mashable to allow people to retweet posts, rotates through multiple URL shorteners including Digg. In some cases, people trying to share our stories will unknowingly be directing their followers to Digg instead of this site.
Updates to Cashmore’s original column include a twittered response from Kevin Rose (founder of Digg) where he says he was not aware of this due to being on vacation and will look into it. That response was made yesterday and as far as I know there has been no further news since.
I will say that I will not be using Digg or its services in the near future while I wait to see what happens. I certainly hope that Rose changes this practice, but only time will tell.
George “Loki” Williams is the owner of SocialGumbo, LLC