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Main > Archives > 2006 > September > Digg's Kevin Rose on Recent Indiggnation: Fact vs. Fiction

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Digg's Kevin Rose on Recent Indiggnation: Fact vs. Fiction

Vote DiggWe (Jason, Evan and John) had a conference call with Kevin Rose (President)and Jay Adelson (CEO) of Digg to give them an opportunity to respond to speculation from Evan and others about how a small number of users are controlling placement of stories on Digg's home page.

Jay and Kevin said they couldn't explicitly detail how Digg's ranking algorithm works because it would be used by those who want to game the system (the aiding the enemy defense is popular these days), but they gave enough information to understand the basics of how Digg's version of a democracy works.

Just because a story gets a lot of diggs doesn't mean it's home page bound. Who is digging (and his or her reputation) is also very important. Digg factors in the length of time that a person has been a digger as well as the amount of their activity, so stories boosted by old-time frequent diggers will rise above stories that are dugg by newbies to the site.

Digg users have to participate for an unspecified "short" period of time before their diggs will carry the full weight. So the most senior diggers (including the editors) do have more influence, but according to Jay (per a follow-up email) "there is general sense of a maximum" weight that the most senior diggers can carry. The algorithm does not care about who submits a story, but the quality of the headline as well as the number of images and external links on the article page also matters.
So while our democracy (electoral college aside) doesn't care how long or often you vote, your history matters to Digg. This makes it a challenge for participants who have joined recently to have a say in the new sections such as sports or entertainment. (Jay said Digg uses a different algorithm for each section).

Other factors that influence a story's chance of getting on the home page include time of day, day of the week that the articles are submitted and the number of times it was buried. Kevin said that explains why some popular stories that made it to the home page are sometimes removed. The names of people who bury stories are not disclosed because "we don't want to start flame wars."

When asked why his name appeared several times on stories that were dugg sequentially dugg by the same people, Kevin said he was using the DiggUpdate tool to track users, two of whom turned out to be people who were gaming the system and were subsequently banned. (Could he really have been that naive?)

Kevin and Jay said the intention has never been to allow "gangs" of users to game the system, and while Digg has always looked for patterns of groups who consistently digg the same stories, Digg will soon update its algorithm to further prevent gang activity. Kevin said that while friends who track each others diggs shouldn't be discriminated against, "20 people who always vote together need to be treated as one mind" by the algorithm. (Jay said today's outage at Digg was for a software update, but he said he didn't know all of the features that were being added).

So just as new websites are "sandboxed" by search engines that lower their rankings until they have been established, new digg users must become active participants and wait a while until they count as much as other users. This is good business practice for Digg (it motivates people to come back often, thereby building traffic), but it is a disincentive for users looking for instant gratification.

No democracy is perfect, but Digg promises to continually update its algorithm so that users will be the primary weighting factor determing how articles get promoted on the site. And bloggers are correct to make sure that they are doing their job well.

By Jason Dowdell at 05:10 PM | Comments (19)

(19) Thoughts on Digg's Kevin Rose on Recent Indiggnation: Fact vs. Fiction

why can't the algorithm be as simple as "The article that is most dugg" by unique user be on the top? I say, if digg start to add too much of the enginuity, they will screw it up and piss off many people....

Comments by impu : Thursday, September 07, 2006 at 06:39 PM

"And bloggers are correct to make sure that they are doing their job well."

Exactly. Some people have been saying, "Quit your complaining!". It's not complaining, it's just helping out a system we all love. If you never say anything (or blog about it) nothing ever changes.

Comments by Sean : Thursday, September 07, 2006 at 06:41 PM


It's not that hard.

Comments by asd : Thursday, September 07, 2006 at 06:48 PM

Even simpler: never display the name of the submitter. Then there is no ego gratification to reward people for submitting stories nor is there any complaints by people recognizing patterns of submissions. Problem Solved.

Comments by panique : Thursday, September 07, 2006 at 06:56 PM

That doesn't prevent a user IMing the story title to another user with instructions to digg it up.

Hiding the name does little to blunt the efforts of a group if they are at all determined.

Comments by hap : Thursday, September 07, 2006 at 06:58 PM

^ Then they'd have to remove the friends tracking system where you can find your friend's dugg stories.

Also people could email their friends about the title/link of the story and have them digg it.

Comments by Daniel : Thursday, September 07, 2006 at 07:08 PM

I don't really see a problem with groups of friends digging the same content. Howevever, if the senior digg users are using their "power" for evil by setting up multiple digg accounts for themselves to digg the same story then they should be blocked.

Good luck identifying that...

Comments by Andy : Thursday, September 07, 2006 at 09:04 PM

It sounds like Digg is doing all the right things; yet, the Digg Ranking Algorithm is still perceived to be unfair by many.

Comments by webmetricsguru : Thursday, September 07, 2006 at 10:28 PM

Digg is good, but sometimes inaccurate stories get dugg to the top...which we have to look out for.

Comments by Gdog : Thursday, September 07, 2006 at 11:09 PM

Isn't the point of digg to get information out to people, not who is submitting the story. If Joe Blow wants to spend his entire day digging stories and what not, he should be getting to the top page.

And as for this part of the article

"So while our democracy (electoral college aside) doesn't care how long or often you vote, your history matters to Digg."

The United States is a Republic, not a democracy.

Comments by Greg : Thursday, September 07, 2006 at 11:21 PM

Digg is not a democracy. Democracies and Republics for that matter do not give more voting leverage to older members of the society. Otherwise the older members of the society would vote to send the younger members of society off to fight wars for them and essentially enslave them to the system.

Uh, wait, maybe Digg is a Republic or Democracy, sounds all too real. Glad I turn 40 in a few years - never said that before.

Comments by brettbum : Friday, September 08, 2006 at 12:30 AM

Like all extremely popular new concepts, it takes time and patience to optimize and tweak to perfection.

But even factoring in any imperfections, the I.T. world is certainly better off because DIGG was created

There are many top users who get to homepage stories and are completely honest

Comments by Search Engines : Friday, September 08, 2006 at 01:14 AM

I think too many people are seeing this as taking a hammer to the algorithm, when it is more likely a small tap or tweak.

More or less "weight" is also a relative term since we have no idea of specific numbers in the algorithm.

Also, for those of you out there who think "what the hell... why not just let the most dugg stories go to the front, regardless", can look under American History: The Federalist Papers, arguably the most insightful documents to the founding of the U.S. Think of gangs who promote stories for whatever their motivation is, to be known as "Tyranny of the minority".

Comments by xray : Friday, September 08, 2006 at 02:06 AM

I think that Diggs algorithm should be applied to general voting systems.
I think that more and more people ar e not voting, especially here in the UK. Maybe if you earned your vote you'd appreciate how hard it was won and value the power it has. And that taking a more active part in any democratic state can only be agood thing for all.

Comments by Car 54 : Thursday, September 14, 2006 at 05:35 PM

I'm a newbie to digg and feel that Kevin and his crew should be given a chance to perfect the digg format.I like digg because I get to see things I normally wouldn't see just cruising the net alone.We need a free exchange of ideas,especially in technology.I miss the old TechTV and am glad there is a new technology forum.GO FOR IT!!!!

Comments by popp1999 : Wednesday, September 20, 2006 at 01:45 PM

There’s a site out there called that helps promote your digg articles if you’re looking to generate more traffic from digg. It’s main purpose is to help businesses who use to promote themselves.

Comments by Nate : Tuesday, September 26, 2006 at 03:58 PM

I still like Reddit, a much better algorithm and the system is very simple and powerful. It leads to alot of abuse but the users are starting to filter it out themselves. Its a great system, but the users need to learn how to use it. So instead of creating all of the boundaries like Digg is doing, the users on Reddit are learning social news site etiquette.

Comments by Jody brewster : Monday, February 05, 2007 at 10:34 PM

User self-policing is still the best way to go, as no matter what algorithm changes Digg makes, it will be gamed at some point.

Empowering users, with some kind of visible metrics of Digg activity, and disempowering senior diggers sounds like a way to achieve "transparency."

Comments by Larry : Sunday, December 07, 2008 at 11:07 PM

The best articles should rise to the home page. Put up the article on a preview page. Ask for willing voters, configure a panel of 50 members none of whom should be friends of the authors. The provide preliminary rating.
For all readers who are not friends of the writer allow rating.
This business is seniority appears to be part of creating attachment and a hierarchy within Digg. It has nothing to do with the quality of writing.

Comments by atul chatterjee : Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 03:52 AM

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