Digg went down today for a little bit and when it came up I decided to poke around a bit to see if anything had changed.

That is when I noticed a new Digg Dialogg was coming up with Richard Branson.

digg-link-sales

Now I am not an expert on paid links like Greg Boser, Todd Friesen and Michael Gray are, but I definitely noticed the ‘followed’ link to FreeCreditReport.com. (msaleem had noticed it and tweeted it earlier in the day, but I was out all day and missed it.)

I asked Todd Malicoat, who spoke on a panel with Matt Cutts from Google about paid links, who commented:

“More proof big brands are the new blackhat – different rules for different size sites.”

I should note that I actually see nothing wrong with paid links and I know this is the year that Digg has to become profitable, but are they really willing to sell links of their site to do it? And to a company like FreeCreditReport.com?

Other complaints have been launched about some of the ads that are being shown on Digg in general, and during a keynote speech today at Ad:Tech in San Francisco, Kevin Rose talked further about advertising on Digg, as per this ReadWriteWeb article:

The site will focus on larger ad campaigns, and according to Rose, turn to its users. “If anything, Digg has users that like voting,’ Rose explained, “and I would love to see a world that if something is really crappy, it gets destroyed or thrown off the site.” Either that, he said, “or we charge people more for crappy ads,” he added with a grin.

Clearly with the FreeCreditReport.com links, they have decided to go the way of just making them pay more…

EDIT: In fairness to Digg, they have become much more responsive. They decided to ‘nofollow’ the links from freecreditreport.com off their site in an effort to avoid doing anything questionable as far as paid links go.

digg-link-nofollowed

Todd Friesen had this to add in a recent post he wrote:

“Google has us running so scared that we’re once again doing their jobs for them. The link clearly disclosed that it was sponsored. In my book that should be enough. Sure Google would like us to put that crap in javascript, use a nofollow blah blah blah. Google has a ton of pretty clever people over there. How about we make them earn their paychecks and sort out the linking issues on their own.”

Have an opinion? Let me know.