Earlier today we reported on a change in how Digg handles URL redirects from its URL shortening service called DiggBar. Users of the service are not happy – links are now sometimes going to Digg’s summary of the story instead of the story itself. The term “Bait and Switch” is being thrown around liberally, and Digg founder Kevin Rose is steering himself right out of the mess.
Before the change, a shortened URL would point to the underlying URL (example). If the person clicking was a logged in Digg user they got the Digg toolbar on top with stats and the ability to Digg the story. If they were not a logged in Digg user the short URL simply redirected to the original URL, which is how most other URL shorteners work.
Now it’s different. Logged in users still see the DiggBar. But non-Digg users get redirected right to the Digg page about that story. In the example above, they’d be directed here.
The reason for this? Digg clearly wants more unique visitors. Before they only “kept” people who were already using Digg and logged in. People who didn’t use Digg never hit the site. With this change all those non-Digg users are now hitting Digg.com and racking up the user stats.
I actually think this is extremely shortsighted of DIgg. Competitor Bit.ly (and they may be Digg’s biggest direct competitor soon) has a clean experience that is predictable and creates user trust. With Digg, you can’t be sure where people will end up once they click the URL. And the constantly changing policies only add to the uncertainty.
As we wrote previously, people are not happy. And Kevin Rose, fresh off a two week vacation, says he had no idea the change was happening. In a Twitter message an hour ago, 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).”
Translation: He’s not happy (otherwise he wouldn’t disagree with a new policy publicly). Look for a reversal on this policy sometime soon.