Digging in the Mud

Published 15 years, 1 month past

There’s something about the Diggbroglio that has left me scratching my head:  how is it that so many people are up in arms about the DiggBar when they’ve had nothing to say about the framing bars of StumbleUpon, FaceBook, etc. etc.?

Now, please note that I’m not saying the DiggBar, or any other framing bar, is cool and we should all love it.  I’m not.  I absolutely, completely, totally get all the reasons why framing bars are bad for breaking bookmarking and navigating and search engines and copyright and hijacking content and so on.  But that’s precisely why I’m so confused, because we’ve known for years now that framing bars are bad mojo—and yet StumbleUpon, for example, is based on bars.  There is a browser extension/plugin StumbleUpon thingy you can install, but there’s also a web-based framing bar thing (see this link, for example) that they offer, and I bet people use.  You don’t have to be a member to use it: I hit that link in a browser that allows cross-site frame loading and I get the bar and the page it’s framing, and I’ve never been a StumbleUpon member.  The source shows it’s using iframes to make it happen.  So far as I can tell, it’s not really different from the DiggBar.

So why do we have people writing JavaScript and PHP and Ged-knows-what-else that specifically busts out of the DiggBar framing, instead of busting out of all framing?  After all, site framing is universally agreed to be objectionable; even yet-to-be-discovered life forms orbiting distant stars think it’s a bad idea.  So why is one instance of it being targeted while the rest are tolerated?  Why are we all not just using if (top != self) {top.location.replace(self.location.href);} and other-language equivalents?  Yes, I know, some of you do just that, but why isn’t everyone?

Perhaps because I have yet to eradicate a stubborn streak of faith in the rationality of my peers, I assume that there’s some technical difference here that I’m missing and that, once understood, would let me understand the source of the outcry.  So can someone please explain to me, or point at an explanation that states, the technical ways in which the DiggBar is worse enough than already-extant framing bars that it’s triggered this outrage?  Again, nobody has to enumerate the complete list of the DiggBar’s sins; I understand.  A list of any different and more egregious sins would be just fine, though.

Also, if anyone comes up with a way to bust out of the frames while still preserving the bar—that is, correcting the problems framing bars cause while preserving their functionality for the people who want to use them—that would be extra-cool.  After all, people who use those services like the bars.  If we could let them browse the web the way they prefer while fixing bookmark/SEO/etc. problems framing bars can cause, that would be a win all the way around.

Update 14 Apr 09: looks like Porter‘s trying to keep the bar without the framing.

Update 16 Apr 09: in his post about Digg changing the way the DiggBar will work, John Gruber lists (by way of quoting Digg VP John Quinn’s post about it) the two things that made the DiggBar extra-objectionable (at least in his eyes).  Thanks, John!

Comments (22)

  1. Does Digg give you the option to turn the stupid bar off? I have been using StumbleUpon for a few years, but I’m never a fan of extra garbage in my browsing window. So when I want to use StumbleUpon, I just turn on the toolbar in my browser, and then turn it off when I’m done. I’ve never found StumbleUpon intrusive or overbearing.

    I can see why Digg would do this, even if I don’t necessarily agree with the supreme arrogance of it, it makes sense for their business. I primarily go to Digg for the content, leave their site to read the articles, and never have any other interaction with Digg. I never Digg things up or down, and I only go into the comments if an article link is blocked at work and I want to ascertain if it’s worth checking out later.

    Since the inception of Digg bar, I actually started Digging just about everything I read from their site. I never use those hideous little social media buttons people append to their articles, but if I’m already signed in to the tool bar, what the hey.

    They should consider the bar from an experience standpoint, if not from the perspective of their content providers. If I’m not already signed into Digg (not sure how long their cookie lasts but it ain’t long enough) and I click the button to Digg an article, poof once I sign in I’m redirected to the Digg home page and have lost the article and 9 times out of 10 will be too lazy to try and find it again.

    Options are the key to a avoiding outrage. Give me the option to turn it off and install a browser toolbar if I’d prefer. Give me the option to stay logged in for a zillion years if it’s my home computer.

  2. I don’t use either, so I don’t really care, but the main difference I see between the StumbleUpon link you included and the DiggBar is that StumbleUpon includes the original URL as a parameter rather than shortening the URL.

    And, of course, Digg has more traffic, so anything it does is going to get more of a splash.

  3. Here’s my take on why this suddenly has become a hot issue:

    1. People are having discussions about rev=”canonical”
    2. Some people (and then some high traffic blogs like Kottke) point out the evils of URL shortening (yes, we have known for a long time that URLs should be permanent, and it’s good to be reminded)
    3. A discussion about content ownership ensues at some high traffic personal blogs (see http://www.43folders.com/2009/04/10/free-me )

    This results in URLs, content, and attribution being a hot issue.

    Then Digg, generally disliked by most of the (3) blogs’ audience, releases the Diggbar. John Gruber, A-lister-A, dislikes this too and writes a little blocking script. He posts links to Diggbar blocking scripts for every popular CMS out there. People like incoming links from Daring Fireball so they whip up a script to do it for their CMS of choice too. That’s why there are so many people out there writing a (really basic) script.

    Snowball effect. I think it’s rather fascinating how a few influential people can cause a storm.

  4. Im totally with you. I think google image search is a good usecase for frame-bars. But digg, stumbleupon etc just breaks the web. Why? Because people actually use those links, its very rare that someone sends a google image search result with the framebar.

  5. The reason people aren’t busing ALL frames is that Google Image search brings a lot of sites a lot of traffic and uses frames. The reason people are up in arms about Digg’s frames is that they bring a ton of traffic, but very few ad clicks and not a lot of visitors stick around long enough to comment or explore a site.

  6. This has obviously been extremely exacerbated by the rise of Twitter. I wish they would add some sort of functionality that would eliminate the need for url shortening. I wished for HTML anchor tags that would not count against the character limit, but understand that doesn’t work for SMS. Not sure what the answer is, but I can’t help thinking this problem would not have come to a head without Twitter.

  7. As far as I have noticed: a shortened URL on Facebook will redirect to the correct URL if you’re not logged into Facebook, or aren’t friends with the user who posted the link. ==> Google and the other usual suspects end up at the correct URL eventually (they just get redirected), ergo no uproar.

    Another aspect I’m not getting: it’s perfectly possible for a user to disable the diggbar, without any hackery: next to the Diggbar’s Close button a little arrow shows up when hovering over the Diggbar. Two clicks later (the first one being on the arrow) and you’ve turned off the Diggbar, permanently.

  8. “After all, people who use those services like the bars”

    I think that’s a bad assumption to make. I <3 Digg, but I can’t stand the new bar. That bar makes me roll my scroll wheel a few extra times on every article I read from Digg. Aggregated across all the Digg articles I read every day, that adds up to a 0.00000001% increase in my chance of carpal tunnel syndrome.

    Ok, maybe the bar’s not so bad, and maybe I’m just bitter because I’m a web developer and I value on-screen real estate very highly. But still, the point remains that the people who *make* Digg like their bar; the same can not (necessarily) be said for the people who *use* Digg.

  9. Don”t forget Google Translate and similar services, where the framing is actually useful for visitors.

  10. Technically, there is no difference. Digg was the simply straw that broke the camel’s back. Or more accurately, the rest of these bars were straws and DiggBar was the log that broke the camel’s back.

    Fun with frame-stacking.

  11. Well said. I particularly enjoyed the last paragraph — I would love to see that happen.

  12. Here are the reasons I think are causing the extreme reaction versus FaceBook and StumbleUpon (in order of decreasing “validity” as an argument as I see it):

    * Digg’s perceived high Google-juice
    * Digg’s front-and-center use of framing (FaceBook’s use is far from central to their service, and StumbleUpon’s might be seen as just a crippled little brother of their browser add-on)
    * Digg’s explicit promotion of the feature as a URL-shortening service (Quote from Digg: “Make short Digg links and add a DiggBar on any page on the web using this handy bookmarklet.”)
    * The current popularity of url-shortening services right now in combination with above.
    * Digg’s high number of not-logged-in users that will get the “bar” automatically (do not-logged-in facebook users even exist?)
    * Digg’s launching of the feature into a fully Twitter-aware web
    * the pile-on effect

    There are some existing URL-shorteners that do similar things (ow.ly comes to mind). They are also not good, but are much less high-profile than Digg. I avoid clicking on them, personally.

    As for making a Diggbar that does not suck – I don’t see a way to do it that does not involve browser add-ons. However, if they made the Diggbar an opt-in setting I’m sure people would be mostly satisfied.

  13. If I’m not totally mistaken, then breaking out of google’s cache frame is truly annoying. Maddening. So, yes totally universal javascript is bad :-)

  14. I think the difference in reactions come from the fact that clicking external links is almost all one does on Digg (particularly if you don’t comment). I only noticed the Facebook toolbar a day or two after the Diggbar, not because it was somehow less irritating, but because I so rarely click links in Facebook. How long has the Facebook toolbar been around? Also, I only log in if I want to dig something, or comment (which is not ver often). For just browsing and reading I am usually not logged in which means that my preferences are not read, and the toolbar is there. So now I have to log in all the time which wouldn’t be a problem if Digg would remember me better than it does, but it seems like I have to re-login all the time.

  15. Ha! Your reaction was similar to mine (about why the specific rage at the Diggbar and not the other javascript bars already widely in use). My first thought was that the ‘Facebookbar’ was doing almost exactly the same thing…but I hadn’t seen anyone kicking and screaming about it! These portal-bar items are definitely a bad idea for many reasons – busting out from ALL of them (gracefully) would be a good move.

  16. Pingback ::

    Example of framebar evilness « god morgon!

    […] 2009 April 14 by andreas Wowsers! Will the diggbar debates ever end? Eric Meyer asks on his blog today why are people so upset about diggbar in particular and not other framebars like google image […]

  17. example of how framebars slows down the web: http://tr.im/iP8L

  18. This is unrelated, but you have a horizontal scroll bar I can’t seem to shake. Using Firefox 3.0.8

  19. Pingback ::

    Digg e la nuova Diggbar « Howtoweb.it

    […] qualche giorno fa da Digg. Su questo proposito anche Eric Meyer manifesta il suo disappunto con un articolo, sottolineando come la problematica più grave fosse rappresentata dall’utilizzo dei frame e […]

  20. I think people are always up in arms about anything to do with Digg because it is so popular and people are always trying to be the most powerful “DIGG’ers.” Thanks for bringing this point to light: if you don’t like framing, take it out on all sites that frame! Thanks for sharing.

  21. Personally I was annoyed by the Diggbar because I felt it stole decent linkage – because users didn’t close the Diggbar. Another reason is that I don’t use Facebook, so I haven’t experienced the FB-bar (or whatever it’s called). And StumbleUpon…well all they really have is their bar, right?

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    Checking if my page is embedded in an iframe - PHP Solutions - Developers Q & A

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