Why don't Digg digg us?


At Grand Illusions we tend to keep our heads down and concentrate on what we see as our main passion - sharing with you our enthusiasm for all the fun science and education toys that we come across. Part of the web site showcases Tim Rowett's amazing toy collection (18,000 and growing!) while other parts include articles and optical illusions. There is also the Toy Shop, where we sell a small range of toys that are hard to find elsewhere. I should maybe say that at the time of writing this - October 2008 - neither Tim or I get any kind of a salary for doing this. Indeed we have both invested a lot of our own money in the company. We do - of course - hope that we will grow over the coming years, and that we might get to the point where we can afford to pay ourselves something, but we have not got there yet. We have been running Grand Illusions for ten years now, and we always try hard to be fair and honest, and we also like to feel that we are responsive to comments from customers and visitors to the web site.

A little while back, in December 2006, someone posted a link to Digg, one of the Internet's largest social networking sites, about our Metal Pen. It attracted quite a bit of comment on Digg, and the posting ended up getting 3950 Diggs. We certainly noticed the effect, in that we had increased traffic to the Grand Illusions web site, and we also sold more Metal Pens over the subsequent weeks and months. I should emphasise that we had absolutely nothing to do with any of the postings on Digg, either the original one, or any of the subsequent comments. Nor did we know any of the people who did post. We were certainly grateful however for the increase in traffic and in sales. If you were one of the people that posted to Digg, thank you!

Skip forward to September 2008, and we have a new toy that we are very excited about, the FunFlyStick. Tim saw this at the New York Toy Fair in February 2008, and we liked the company that make it - Unitech Toys, in California. Like us they are small, and like us they are passionate about toys that are not only fun, but also have an educational angle to them.

So on September 7th 2008, having signed up to Digg, I tried to post a link to Digg about the new toy, the FunFlyStick. However I got an automatic message from Digg, telling me that the Grand Illusions web site was banned because we host adult content. Now adult content is something we have never hosted in all the years we have been going. So I e-mailed Digg Support to query this.

I didn't hear back from Digg, so I tried the following day to submit our link, just in case they had fixed things. This time I got the message you see here - our url has been reported by users to be in violation of Digg's Terms of Service. I e-mailed Digg again, and got a standardised response, basically saying that we were spammers. I understand their point that sometimes there are people who make multiple postings who think that they are not spammers, even though the wider audience DOES see their postings as spam.

However, as I said earlier, Grand Illusions has never posted any content to Digg. Nor have we ever got other people to post on our behalf. This is simply not the sort of thing we would do. So I made the point to Digg that I could not see how we could have been in violation of their TOS since we have not actually done anything. However they have not replied to any of my subsequent e-mails.

So are we labelled as spammers simply because other people have made posts about us on Digg? It sure seems that way.

Hendrik Ball

Grand Illusions Toy Shop

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