Above is a screenshot of multiple toolbars being used here that I pulled from an experiment at Rev2.org. It includes a web toolbar from Krumlr, Ow.ly, Digg, and Facebook. When I see a screenshot like this, I cannot help but think how this reminds me of GeoCities circa 1990’s when there was that stupid web banner that dragged up and down as you scrolled through content pages. That banner alone helped contribute to the downfall of GeoCities.
The first one to come up with the toolbar out of all of the Web 2.0 companies was StumbleUpon. Their web toolbar was just an alternative to the Firefox or Internet Explorer toolbar. StumbleUpon just made it easier to use the service for those who did not have access to their own computers with the toolbar already installed.
But then Digg decided to replicate StumbleUpon’s web toolbar even though it was not necessary whatsoever. The community was much better off without the Digg toolbar. Given Kevin Rose is such an avid Twitter user and Digg wanted more traffic, this is why they created the toolbar and shortened the links for Digg.com URLs.
It didn’t stop at Digg. Facebook decided to get into the web toolbar game by creating that feature for shared links on the social network.
All of these web toolbars are doing something worse than what the GeoCities banners were doing back in the 90’s. These web toolbars are absorbing more traffic since it is their domain names being used but loading the content owner’s website in an iFrame.
By not getting the traffic that other websites are taking from you and if for some reason you aren’t getting the link-bank credit, then you could be potentially losing traffic. Fortunately for Pulse2.com, our main traffic sources are not from these content-stealing web toolbars. This is why I personally don’t mind it as much as many others.
For those of you out there that are using WordPress, there are some plugins available that automatically kill off the web toolbars. One of them is called “Frame Breaker, aka Die Digg-bar die!”