Some More Thoughts On The DoucheBarDeathBarDiggBar

After posting my friendly JavaScript DiggBar killer yesterday, I mulled over some additional thoughts on the issue. I suspect that the DiggBar controversy will go on for about another week or two and result in Digg pulling the feature entirely in lieu of actual browser toolbars; longer if they refuse to do so.

There are various reasons I only foresee the eventual outcome of this situation to be the removal of the DiggBar entirely. First I want to list five (out of many) fundamental problems inherent to the current DiggBar:

  1. The DiggBar is in effect whether you’re a member of Digg or not. Not a member? Tough luck, you’re being forced to deal with it anyway.
  2. The DiggBar is an all-or-nothing solution to a problem that wasn’t (just) Digg’s to solve, i.e. if a DiggBar URL would simply 301 Redirect to the original source if you’re a) not a Digg member or b) a Digg member who disabled the DiggBar in their preferences, it wouldn’t be all-or-nothing.
  3. The DiggBar is opt-out instead of opt-in. In today’s online world that’s a fundamental flaw. One of the reasons Twitter is so successful is because it’s opt-in by design.
  4. The DiggBar stays around when you navigate beyond just the original source’s page. Click to another article, page or even website, and you’ll still have that bar at the top, now referring to something you no longer have on screen.
  5. Less interesting to most people, but the DiggBar and the resulting cross-domain page viewing process creates security concerns for JavaScript. Digg’s own Analytics code for example, included on each DiggBar page, will raise several errors.

Worth noting is that all five gripes above can be nullified with an actual browser toolbar.

Now, taking those five reasons into account, there is really just one two-tiered scenario in which the DiggBar can exist:

  1. It must be an opt-in choice which, if not opted into, makes the short URL perform a 301 Redirect to the original page. This would then also be the behavior for non-members.
  2. Clicking anywhere in the original page would have to kill the DiggBar so as not to confuse the reader’s site navigation.

This obviously reduces the appeal for Digg to even have the DiggBar at all, which, paired with this massive cry of foul we’re seeing happening right now, leads me to believe that Digg should (will?) remove the DiggBar.

They can replace it with a real browser toolbar if they really want.

As for my JavaScript DiggBar killer of yesterday, something struck me when I read John Gruber’s comment in his link post about it:

This is far friendlier to Digg users than my solution, but I’m not trying to be friendly about this.

I think John is absolutely right in that we shouldn’t be friendly to Digg about this at all, and Danny Sullivan says the same thing. But some nuance is warranted, in my eyes: big sites like Gruber’s and Engadget should block DiggBar traffic entirely to really send a message; small sites like me have enough to gain from exposure—even if it’s Digg—to not downright block but to simply kill the DiggBar and let the reader enjoy our content.

I firmly believe there is room for both approaches to co-exist and work together, because ultimately the goal is a shared one: to stop bad practices like framebars from taking place on the Web. Danny Sullivan’s piece, however, made me consider not even limiting the frame-breaking code to the DiggBar but simply toall frames—including Google Images’!

What I realized, after reading that, is that I never use Google Images to see the entire page of context for the image I’m searching for. I instinctively just click on the thumbnail to get only the image itself.

I’m thinking I’ll be spending some more time thinking about this whole thing over the weekend. For now, I’ll leave you with an entirely different format to communicate this whole DiggBar message in:

Dear Digg,

If you wish to provide your users with a toolbar
for added functionality in browsing Digg,
give them a real toolbar as a browser plugin.

Don’t fuck up the Web as a whole.

A web developer who cares

Perhaps we should all start emailing this to Kevin Rose?

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