The Digg Bar is the latest product from the guys at Digg – it’s a toolbar that sits at the top of the site you visit every time you follow a link from Digg. It’s a somewhat contraversial new feature. There are fears that it’s going to lessen the impact of making it onto Digg because of the way the bar handles the URL during the linking process. There’s some concern that it pushes things like comments from your site onto Digg, since Digg is more accessible via the bar. There’s some concern about Digg using your content to advertise – it’s inevitable that they’ll use that half inch slice at the top of the browser to serve ads in some form.
I have a different opinion of the Digg Bar, however, after a few days of thought about it. I don’t think it’s harmful at all – it serves it’s purpose as a pretty nifty feature, and Digg will probably monetize it, but it’s not something to get upset about, and here’s why.
First, Digg adds a ton of value to the internet. It’s not inevitable that the internet will be the dominant form of communication. Think of what the internet would look like today if it were owned by AT&T – It would probably cost a fortune to access and wouldn’t be nearly as good as it is today. Think if it were owned by the federal government – it would be subject to a revolving door of elected officials and getting a website would require a government application. Digg is one of those transformative companies of the current internet, in that it’s actually facilitating the movement of people from one media to the next, not just reaping the benefits of that ‘inevitable’ transition.
Second, Digg visitors to your site – they really like Digg, and you shouldn’t begrudge them that. They’re at your site precisely because they were at Digg and followed a link. Being linked from Digg exposes you to potentially the largest audience you’ll ever see. Cetainly, you may not capitalize on it in the best manner, but hey, you’re still getting juiced to hell, so go with the flow.
Third, in relation to more commenting being done on Digg than the actual linked to site, I’m pretty sure the locality of the comments doesn’t matters a whole lot. It’s pretty certain that if Digg weren’t there, those comments probably wouldn’t have been left on your site anyway, and, to be cheesy, all press is good press. In the end, Digg is adding value to your content through their own comment system.
The final point is that of just shared prosperity. Digg makes a dime off linking to your content, and you can use that traffic to lube the gears on your business model, whatever it may be. If you’re smart, you realize the need to make sure you’re prepared to prosper when you get visitors regardless of where they come from. For my part, I’d be happy as hell if this story ever were to make it onto Digg, even if I’d not make a dime and my site would almost surely crash. Such is life.