Digg Gets into the Content Theft Business

digg for content aggregation

There’s a major change at Digg…  They won’t be linking to your content anymore.  Instead, they’ve rolled back the clock and pulled out a favorite tactic of content thieves.  For now, all links on Digg are pointing back to Digg, where they show your content under their toolbar and on their domain.

No, that isnt Digg.com
No, that isn’t Digg.com!

What is obvious here is that Digg is desperate. For all their talk of success, they’ve never had a viable business model and they don’t actually create new content (unless you’re talking about the comments – not exactly A+ writing)

What is less clear is how the search engines will treat this change. Under the new toolbar system, all links on Digg point to the Digg domain. If your link gets to the front page, Google will only see a PR8 link pointing to a Digg.com page containing your content. Who do you think the search engine is going to think is the original author? Digg!

So Digg has literally crossed the line. Where once, it was a place where people could share links, it has gone over into the dark side of outright content theft.  If a new, small website tried to pull such a stunt, they’d be laughed off the internet.  If Digg does it, they’ll be able to soak up a ton of traffic to someone else’s stuff.

Consequences, Consequences…

It is unlikely that advertisers will be fooled by this switch, but Digg surfers and content publishers are likely to retaliate in any way they can.  To start, I’ve noticed the Digg page is pretty slow – the comments are a bit slower than usual.

And publishers are going to need a way to protect their hard work and unique content from search engine plagiarism.  One idea I’m thinking about at the moment would block Digg’s bots from my server:  I wouldn’t be surprised to hear about DMCA notices being filed against Digg, either.  It is one thing when a spam blog lifts content, but it is something entirely different when a “mega-domain” like PR8 Digg gets into the thievery biz.  Publishers can’t establish ownership against that kind of pagerank powerhouse – especially when an indexing and linking resource like Digg won’t help you anymore.

I can’t imagine this will last long. If I were a search engine programmer, I’d slap Digg to oblivion just like I would with any other two-bit content scraper.  I won’t hold my breath for this one though, we’ve all seen hints that there’s favoritism toward strong brands and well-known names.

I mean, who cares who created something, as long as a mega-corp can profit from it.  Am I right?


  1. Am I right?


    The bar is the only aspect of the page actually hosted on Digg’s domain. Everything below that bar is in a frame, loaded directly from the author’s server, itself. Look at the code, yourself. It’s painfully obvious.

    Also, while you’re looking at that code, you may also notice that it was tediously designed to actually improve SEO for the content’s site. Previously, people would get little to no Google-juice, even if they were on the Digg frontpage. All they got was a spike in traffic and 15 minutes of fame. With the new Digg bar, you’re actually getting something out of Google when Digg links to you now.

    As much as I hate Digg (mainly because their staff is more worried about keeping a minority of their users quiet instead of praising their top-contributors), the new Digg bar is a godsend to those wanting to improve their SEO through Digg.

  2. I’ve done just a bit of preliminary research on the effects, and I’m starting to notice a trend:

    Digged pages from low pagerank sites are ending up in the supplemental index. In the midrange of PR, there’s a few stories where Digg outranks the original source for any bit of content copied & searched for. For Arstechnica, BBC, or TechCrunch, the original is ranking and Digg’s page is in the supplemental results.

    I’ll get some more specific examples up a bit later on

  3. Well, I’ve got all the proof I need. A political blog post I wrote a while ago is no longer in the SERPs… See, it got 3100+ diggs once upon a time but today it is the discussion page on Digg that is getting the traffic I had last week. This is according to webmaster tools and a search for the corresponding phrase. #5 -> #35 in a week and now Digg’s domain has a front page result instead.

    As far as I’m concerned, Digg has officially become a menace to be reckoned with – it’s not just Reddit’s retarded cousin anymore!

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