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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Downfall of Digg is Forthcoming and Here is Why

It's only a matter of time. Another site will rise up from nowhere and Digg will slowly fade into oblivion. It is hard to imagine right now with the size and coverage of Digg.com but it is coming.

Everyone has heard the stories about Digg being run by a select few users and the corruption that coincides with it. Anti-Digg stories being removed, accounts being deleted and large scale cover-ups all around that would make Whitewater proud.

I'll preface this by saying I like Digg. It is useful and usually full of interesting stories, but what I have experienced is the true reason why someone else will come and take over the Digg empire.

Digg's fundamental principle is social-generated content, the new media where the users are the reporters and that only stories that the users aka "Digg-nation" finds interesting. But this principle is in jeopardy as the blogosphere has buzzed many times about "Digg-Gangs" and how certain users who digg something carry more weight then other digg users which allows stories to get to more prominent positions such as the home page and category home pages.

Now I can understand why this is in place. To help prevent spammers and such from getting their stories in a prominent position but the negative effect of this is you are isolating new users who are submitting quality content.

Let me give you an example. I listen to sports radio about 20hrs a day and have a multitude of RSS feeds that are sports only, so I am pretty on top of the news in the sports world. I highly doubt there are many more people that are on top of sports news more then myself and being that the Digg/sports section is pretty poor, I thought I would help contribute by submitting new and breaking stories in hopes that the sports section of Digg would pick up and it would be a bit more interesting.

2 days ago I submitted a story to Digg regarding the Arizona Cardinals name of their new football stadium, and it ended up with 17 diggs. Well, yesterday while going through my RSS feed, I saw that the same story had made the digg/sports home page. One of them with 11 Diggs which is less then my submission and another with 470 Diggs and counting. Both stories were submitted well after mine, and the one currently on the sports home a whole day after.

After contacting a few of the prominent "Diggers" in the sports section (who asked to remain nameless), I asked them all the same question on how their stories always get "dugg" and I was taken aback by the answers. These "diggers" all have some sort of advanced notification system, from email list servs, message board, and even IM bots to notify their digging network.

This has become a major problem with Digg where a select few groups are controlling the contents of various sections. There is no motivation for the millions of other users who aren't a part of a digg-army and just want to submit good content in order to make a section better but can't make any contributions because people aren't using the digg system like it was designed.

If Digg plans to expand into other areas such as they have sports, entertainment, and others the system needs to be revisited and tweaked or else the other sections will face the same mediocrity that plagues the newer categories.

I'm sure this story will get buried or deleted from Digg like the others, but Digg it here

By Matt O'Hern at 11:19 AM | Comments (43)

(43) Thoughts on The Downfall of Digg is Forthcoming and Here is Why

I hear you. This is the main reason I don't go to Digg. Some of the "top" stories are only there because of a digg-mafia.

Comments by thomas : Wednesday, August 23, 2006 at 12:34 PM

What about using data mining tools to reduce duplication?

I've riffed off your topic on my own blog to explore this idea. See what you think.

Shifted by Jason: Comment included a link without a link back to this post. Thus it's deemed comment spam. Sorry Nik, you lose.

Comments by Nik : Wednesday, August 23, 2006 at 02:45 PM

me thinks reddit.com will reign supreme by the end of the year...

Comments by juju : Wednesday, August 23, 2006 at 04:02 PM

Nice Digg story and all that but...

As you are an admitted die hard sports guy (and sports radio junky)can you email me? I would love to chat with you about a bunch of stuff. I run a sports radio station and I would like to hear from a total stranger about my industry. What's right with it? What's wrong with it? What makes a show special? What makes a show suck? National or local? More callers or fewer? And a thousand more. I'd also like to know what rss's you swear by.

Chance dawt mcclain at gmail dawt com

Comments by Chance McClain : Wednesday, August 23, 2006 at 04:09 PM

I got suspicious of Diig a good while ago, but my problem is that I don't find a good alternative. Probably, as you bet, the challenger will come from nowhere, or probably is just alive and kicking somewhere. Suggestions, please?

Comments by Nelson Medina : Wednesday, August 23, 2006 at 07:25 PM

Reddit.com is already more interesting than Digg and IMHO will only continue to eat up disenchanted Digg users. The only problem is that a lot of them seem to have got used to the bad behavior accepted on Digg and are frustrated when they are downmodded into invisibility on reddit in the comments. There is abuse of the story-modding, for sure, but nowhere near the obvious and malignant self-interested BS seen on Digg.

A few days ago, an anti-Reddit screed stayed at #1 for quite some time, then slowly decayed off the front page as people seemingly got sick of it. That was impressive.

Comments by Tim : Wednesday, August 23, 2006 at 07:37 PM

I compare Digg to the US election process: the "party" chooses the candidate, and then you have to vote. Doesn't matter if the candidate is the best choice, or was there first, etc.

They are one of the big boys now, and you're limited by what they present to you. For example, my news sites were blocked because one of their regular users reported me as a news "middle man" despite the fact that sites like physorg, livescience, and sciencedaily use the same model I do: press releases.

One big difference is that on my sites, I won't report a cure for cancer next to a story about the latest ipod accessory...

My stories never advanced to the front page (despite being posted BEFORE the other sites (which is what a good news organization does)), so it doesn't affect my traffic, but my readers can no longer post my sites.

Digg's policies (or lack thereof) will lead to their downfall.

Comments by Hans : Wednesday, August 23, 2006 at 07:41 PM

The natural progression of anything that is popular are these "gangs" as you call them which would insinuate that they are dangerous which is stupid.

America has been run by two of your so called "gangs" for two hundred years now. No one can break them down if they tried.

If you've ever ran anything that allowed user input then you would know that if you want to keep your direction with your site, you have to delete a few posts here and there. That is no suprise.

What you are doing with this article is nothing more than crying like you did in high school that you don't belong because you wouldn't conform to a certain image.

So in short, if you don't already realize by what I've already said, if you are going to make an omlette, then you have to break a few eggs.

Why don't you try to build a utopian website and see how hard it is when it gets popular. I've done it, it's impossible.

Comments by Tahko Tetsujin : Wednesday, August 23, 2006 at 08:10 PM

Heh. What a load of crap. Sounds like sour grapes to me. Jealous are we?

It's all High School until you die. Get over it.

Comments by Nora : Wednesday, August 23, 2006 at 08:24 PM

So I suppose any article on how digg sucks (even if it's logical) is prone to have digg-partial people whining over it, people insulting you personally without offering point-point rebuttals.

Roberts, pay these people NO mind. Digg is nothing more than a groupthink ant farm of pretentious, uneducated kids.

I say, keep up the good work, you don't have to be LIKED to be RIGHT.

Tony

Comments by Tony : Wednesday, August 23, 2006 at 08:49 PM

Well, I wrote about this today as I note how hard it is to get a story to get more than a couple of Diggs; now I know why.

How can the average Digg contributor possible get much attension when there's Digg Gangs manipulating the system to make sure their stories get DIGGed ahead of everyone else's.

Comments by webmetricsguru : Wednesday, August 23, 2006 at 09:30 PM

web 2.0 is an advertising scam.

that's the title of an article that needs to be written. what you are describing is not only specific to Digg but many other UGC sites and blogs. Take TechCrunch for instance. Arrington's blog is supposedly news about startups. In reality, it's a tool for him to promote his own agenda. There are hundreds of startups out there and he decides to post every feature update of zoomr or riya. Of course, these sites are sponsors of his blog.

Digg promotes positive stories about its sponsors...i.e. apple.

Comments by factpolice : Wednesday, August 23, 2006 at 09:34 PM

Hans, that is a very good analogy. I would also like second the motion for Reddit.com as an alternative to Digg. Personally I use PopURLs.com so i get the best of both worlds.

Tahko, i know its hard, I run a large scale college website and its very difficult, i acknowledge in the article that I know why digg does it, but i just don't think its good for their long term potential.

Comments by Evan : Wednesday, August 23, 2006 at 09:47 PM

Agreed, reddit is more interesting, faster, and less-controlled than Digg.

Since I found out about all the secret editting going on at Digg (recall the recursive post) I've stayed away from it.

I get everything I need in the news and opinions from Reddit at this point.

Comments by Charles Jillian : Wednesday, August 23, 2006 at 11:01 PM

I switched to Reddit immediately after Digg started requiring you to log in to view certain stories. Plus, the RSS feed from Reddit allows you to jump directly to the story.

Comments by PC : Thursday, August 24, 2006 at 12:05 AM

I've stopped using Digg too in favor of Reddit. Reddit just seems more interesting. And the comments are way more intelligent.

I've also been looking closely at a new site called Fanpop (www.fanpop.com). It's still new and relatively empty, but the concept looks promising (sort of a cross between digg and yahoo groups for very targeted niches).

Comments by Joe : Thursday, August 24, 2006 at 12:47 AM

There are what over a BILLION websites...

I'm not sure who told you that you were forced to visit that particular one...


but trust me they lied -

you have what's called freewill and
unless you need to upgrade your system
something called a BACK button...

Hope that helps...:)


I'm sure out of the billlion or so web sites out there you can find dozens that do the same thing that DIGG does... just stick with one of those who've perfected the concept...

unless of course this is a whole NEW concept that's still learning and growing and finding ways to tweak it so it will ....

FIT EVERY SINGLE PERSONS NEEDS EXACTLY....

There are thousands of people going OF THEIR OWN FREE WILL to that site every day... please do write exactly how YOU would tweak that site to make every single person happy...

your comments ... are good though... the truth is it shows me that you have spent enough time on that site... to observe all that you have

you really should DEMAND a FULL REFUND - it's clearly not living up to it's GUARANTEE - demand every penny you spent there BACK.

and while your making that demand.. you should also glaringly demand that they drop all the heavy advertising all over their site ... it's shameful -

Oh and by the way I'd really love to hear how you faired on your own experience having 10's of thousands of different personalities interacting ... clearly you believe in some hard core policing, in what ways did you go about that?

Have a nice day

Comments by Clue : Thursday, August 24, 2006 at 02:46 AM

I don't think this is just Digg's flaw. How is reddit any different ?

Comments by Diego Amicabile : Thursday, August 24, 2006 at 05:29 AM

I don't think digg originally was very complicated in its rule system, just like reddit. But as the service becomes more popular, more mainstream, all kinds of safegaurds and anti-spam techniques have to be implemented. Reddit will have the same problem, I just hope they solve it right, and not the way digg does.

Comments by Hilko : Thursday, August 24, 2006 at 07:28 AM

Digg suffers from a systemically flawed design.

The idea behind it is to leverage "Group Wisdom" to decide what stories are on the front page.

Here's the rub though: For group wisdom to work, each individual should have no knowledge of what other users are doing and vote independently. It needs to be a secret ballot.

Digg, with every revision, has gotten further from that. The number of "Diggs" is featured prominently. Their social features seem designed to get you to Digg the stories your friends are Digging. Digg itself and the community at large gives more weight to the top users.

The result is it's not community driven and there's no group wisdom being employed.

I prefer Reddit; hopefully they won't make the same mistakes as they grow.

Comments by Eric : Thursday, August 24, 2006 at 08:48 AM

this story on digg has 300 diggs but isnt even on the category home page, but there is a story with 21 diggs... hmmmm

Comments by Evan : Thursday, August 24, 2006 at 09:41 AM

Curb your news addiction. If you don't like it, don't use it.

Techmeme.com will save you time. Try it.

Comments by PJ : Thursday, August 24, 2006 at 10:15 AM

I have had a similar experience with my own blog posts on dig.

I submit a story then someone will mine my links to create their own blog post, submit it to dig and vote early and often to pass my submission.

Comments by paul : Thursday, August 24, 2006 at 10:23 AM

I'm confused. Perhaps you could help me. If Digg is so terrible why have you ripped off their look and feel wholesale?

Comments by Rob Leather : Thursday, August 24, 2006 at 12:58 PM

(part 2 of 3)

-” I listen to sports radio about 20hrs a day and have a multitude of RSS feeds that are sports only, so I am pretty on top of the news in the sports world. I highly doubt there are many more people that are on top of sports news more then myself and being that the Digg/sports section is pretty poor, I thought I would help contribute by submitting new and breaking stories in hopes that the sports section of Digg would pick up and it would be a bit more interesting.

2 days ago I submitted a story to Digg regarding the Arizona Cardinals name of their new football stadium, and it ended up with 17 diggs. Well, yesterday while going through my RSS feed, I saw that the same story had made the digg/sports home page. One of them with 11 Diggs which is less then my submission and another with 470 Diggs and counting. Both stories were submitted well after mine, and the one currently on the sports home a whole day after.”

Here is a couple of possibilities into your example. There is:

a) Perhaps you aren't the leading expert on sports as you think you are. I mean this article is an article on a sports site that you write for right? No it isn't.

b) I looked at your “pink taco” story. As a matter of fact the person that got more diggs than you only posted it one hour after you did with a link to the story that worked. Your link only takes you to a place where you have to register to view it and no one is going to do that.

c) You are just a crybaby.

Comments by Tahko Tetsujin : Thursday, August 24, 2006 at 01:19 PM

(part 3 of 3)

-“After contacting a few of the prominent "Diggers" in the sports section (who asked to remain nameless), I asked them all the same question on how their stories always get "dugg" and I was taken aback by the answers. These "diggers" all have some sort of advanced notification system, from email list servs, message board, and even IM bots to notify their digging network.”

Maybe so but that doesn't explain why one got more diggs that yours. You linked to an article that required more than just clicking. Again, no one is going to randomly register to see one article.

-“This has become a major problem with Digg where a select few groups are controlling the contents of various sections. There is no motivation for the millions of other users who aren't a part of a digg-army and just want to submit good content in order to make a section better but can't make any contributions because people aren't using the digg system like it was designed.

If Digg plans to expand into other areas such as they have sports, entertainment, and others the system needs to be revisited and tweaked or else the other sections will face the same mediocrity that plagues the newer categories.”

You are an idiot that created a whiny article instead of trying to find what I found as the root of your problem which was how you linked to the story.

-”I'm sure this story will get buried or deleted from Digg like the others, but Digg it here”

Oh I'm sure this article will get more diggs now. Unless you fall to your own complaints and delete this comment.

Comments by Tahko Tetsujin : Thursday, August 24, 2006 at 01:20 PM

I agree with Rob Leather. Also, if Digg is so horrible and will fail, why are you submitting stories? In fact, by you submitting a story, you are helping the Digg environment. Go talk about Sports. You talk like you know about that.

Comments by Matt : Thursday, August 24, 2006 at 01:20 PM

Guys, I think you all need to go back to 6th grade and take reading comprehension again. I never said Digg was horrible, just pointing out its fatal flaw.

I was submitting sports articles to help the section, like I stated. I'm no expert nor do i claim to be one. I've even submitted lots of AP articles with relevant news that just dont get dugg.

Tahko, thanks for the name calling, real mature.

Comments by Evan : Thursday, August 24, 2006 at 03:17 PM

The only reason why I called you a stupid crybaby is because you are being a stupid crybaby.

You mislinked your article and instead of finding yourself at fault (which is something you should have done before going off and putting a foot in your mouth), you went and poked around and tried to find any face that could be at fault without a reflection.

Your article now is trite with no credibility. Anyone who looks up the "pink taco" article on Digg will see it because it's plain as night and day.

Seriously, you should feel like a heel but again instead of realizing your blunder and correcting it, you go strait to just calling me a name caller.

If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck it is NOT an elephant, it is a duck.

You better face off with yourself and your mistake or you are going to lose your job.

Comments by Tahko Tetsujin : Thursday, August 24, 2006 at 07:00 PM

How is the sports article mislinked? I went to it when it was posted and again now and it's fine. You don't have to register for it.

What great commentary from people - you suck, crybaby, hit the back button, etc. Seriously what is up? The people who resort to name calling IMMEDIATELY discredit themselves and any ideas they have regardless of the validity.

I think this article brings up a valid discussion. I also like the comment by factpolice on his/her view on web 2.0 being a scam. I'm in online advertising, and I am amazed on a daily basis the amount of money in this industry.

Comments by thomas : Thursday, August 24, 2006 at 09:48 PM

Good job Tahko -- "the article is mislinked."

Did you even read the article, or are you just into writing long, pointless essays?

Comments by Pyronite : Saturday, August 26, 2006 at 06:21 PM

Someone in an earlier post mentioned that sites like digg try to leverage a 'group wisdom' to decide what is relevant/important. The problem with this approach is that it depends in part at least on the wisdom, not to mention the integrity, of the individual diggers. And from my observations of some sections of digg so far it has become apparent that what is important or dug more often than not often is not even factual, in fact quite often the very opposite, but seems based more on what the majority of the diggers on a particular item want to be true and so promote even falsehoods as true as long as it fits with their beliefs. With this goes the propensity to both dig down any posts correcting the falsehood as well often as a stream of invective against those uniwse to correct such posts. It also goes without saying that if you are one of the favoured ones who are one with the group zeitgeist then you can write almost any garbage or lies and have it dug. The main reason I no longer visit the site.

Comments by David Richards : Wednesday, August 30, 2006 at 02:56 PM

Kevin and the digg community are all talking about the top user "collusion" but not the problem pattern of many stories getting "super buried" (this happens often if the article is at all critical of digg) or other stories with very few diggs getting swept to the front page while stories about the same topic with more diggs but _not_ by one of the top users don't get to the front page.

Note that Kevin didn't link to the two stories
http://jesusphreak.infogami.com/blog/what_happened_to_digg
that started this because they were marked as front page but not on the front page, he skips explaining why and how that is happening.

And yeah, nobody should care, but if you (Kevin et al) keep saying all the time - the site is completely user driven, wisdom of crowds, blah, blah - then don't have a man behind the curtain altering what gets to the front page or not.

Comments by bobo the monkey : Thursday, September 07, 2006 at 03:06 PM

Nothing beats VitalPodcasts.com for podcasts, skip text, and listen to some of the best sports radio via podcasts on VitalPodcasts.com.

Comments by Dave : Friday, October 06, 2006 at 07:34 AM

I just joined digg 2 months ago.
I read a few articles about how digg sucks but thought it was worth my time to decide for myself whether or not this is true.
Well today I saw it happen.
A story in offbeat news about a "bionic cow" was promoted with 25 diggs while another story with 52 diggs was left unpromoted.
Both submissions were by the same person and both had mostly the same first 24 people who dugg it and mostly top 30 users.
The glaring difference between the 2?
Kevin Rose was the last to digg the cow story submission before it hit the front page.
The other story is right now still sitting in the upcoming section with 60 diggs and the lame cow story that kevin dugg is still on the front page of offbeat news with only 99 diggs after more than 3 hours there.
I have to wonder was kevin just stumbling in from a night out binge drinking shen he DECIDED the cow story was fron page material?
By the way, the unpromoted story with 60 diggs is interesting: It's about a 100 year old lady who just renewed her driver's liscence.
So, I have seen it for myself: Digg is not user driven, but is in fact owner driven.
I highly doubt I will be doing any more diggin'.

Comments by rdixon : Wednesday, November 01, 2006 at 09:33 AM

My mind is like a fog, not that it matters. I just don't have much to say these days. That's how it is. I haven't been up to anything recently.

Comments by smileys people : Friday, December 01, 2006 at 11:30 AM

"It's all High School until you die. "?! ROFL, what a sad outlook on life. High school ends in 12th grade. Grow your own set of balls already.

Anyhoo, this article is spot on. Digg is done.

Comments by Farewell Digg : Tuesday, January 09, 2007 at 11:52 AM

So Digg becomes DMOZ.
Sorry to be a bit late posting this comment, but I just saw this. All of this reminds me of DMOZ (aka Open Directory Project). The idea was to have volunteer editors who would build a Yahoo-style directory out of the goodness of their hearts. But, once a DMOZ listing became commercially valuable, the "volunteers" became predators, blocking competitors and promoting their own sites instead. It's a form of "tragedy of the commons," and judging from the remarks, it looks like Digg has taken a tragic turn.

Comments by Mark Metz : Thursday, February 01, 2007 at 03:50 PM

I loved Digg when I first started visiting it for all of its previously stated positive qualities. Honestly, I have never been really concerned about the content being manipulated.

I no longer visit Digg because of the frequent displays of user immaturity and disrespect. I don’t like being a part of a community that revolves around hate or 8th grade humor. I don’t like the idea that I am indirectly supporting this behavior. I understand that the community can digg or bury comments…but when 98% of the comments are garbage why bother.

Tahko Tetsujin – your hostile, barely-intelligible rants are the perfect example of what is really wrong with Digg. You took a very interesting article and personally attacked its author. It is hypocritical of you to denounce the opinion of another and then expect anyone to respect to yours.

Your comments are obviously biased and were intended to kill the discussion. If Digg is something that is important to you then help make it better through analyses. Reread the article – the author state that he likes Digg. Don’t foolishly get caught up in all this self-righteous hype. Digg sucks because of you.

Comments by jean : Monday, March 19, 2007 at 07:28 AM

Mine is different everytime i submit a post. The post has been dugg already. I think something is not right. Is not in the past no wonder my traffic evaporized. Imagined post submit in a matter of second dugg already. Amazing isn't it.

Comments by eliseo : Thursday, September 27, 2007 at 01:54 AM

Many thanks for all your comments. Very valuable.

Comments by Free Full Videos : Tuesday, February 03, 2009 at 06:19 AM

I have read all throw this topic and I agree with every word. Digg's own fame is going to be it's own downfall. To many people are using it to for marketing purposes.

Comments by TheMarketingEffect : Wednesday, April 15, 2009 at 08:46 AM

I recently found this gem of an article. Sadly, digg is still popular and the type of behavior listed above is still happening.

Comments by Eliot : Sunday, July 25, 2010 at 05:46 PM

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