Sunday, May 06, 2007

What is wrong with Digg...

What is Digg?

Digg is a user driven social content website. Ok, so what the heck does that mean? Well, everything on digg is submitted by the digg user community (that would be you). After you submit content, other digg users read your submission and digg what they like best. If your story rocks and receives enough diggs, it is promoted to the front page for the millions of digg visitors to see., the first of now many social news sites started off as a purely tech site that did a great job of using its users to aggregate the very best news stories. As soon as I found it was added to my daily read list (now my RSS reader) as it managed to get tons of stories much quicker than any other tech news site like Slashdot or Engadget.

According to Alexa, the unofficial internet site ranking company, Digg is now in the top 100 web sites out there and with that comes a massive readership. Unlike its forbears, as Digg became more popular, Digg diversified from purely tech news and spread into general news, politics and even video links.

All this is good stuff as it makes it easy for me to get all the news I want, albeit only the popular stuff makes it to the front page. But it has it's problems, which are listed below:

  • Story Rigging - As with anything on the web, anybody with anything to sell or an agenda to push try many methods to get the maximum numbers of readers visit their site. These people have researched the Digg alorithms and worked out ways to promote their stories to the front page with amazing regularity.
  • Dupe Commenters - At the speed that stories are submitted to Digg and go through the digg cycle, it is very easy to miss many stories unless you are 'plugged in' every second of the day. There is a habit for people to complain about a story previously being on Digg maybe only 4-6 hours before, but enough time has past for the story to fall off the front page.
  • Zealots - Digg is not alone on this one, but through Digg's diverse nature it has attracted many types of zealots to one spot, where Slashdot seems to have the Linux zealot crowd, Digg has large amounts of Mac, Nintendo, X-Box, PS3, AMD and Linux zealots.
  • Groupthink - Shown to be most evident in the recent HD-DVD debacle, there seems to be a massive sheep fest on certain issues like: the aforementioned HD-DVD issue, anti-Bush stories, Steve Jobs lovers, etc. It seems that a very loud minority gives Digg a bad name through there very vocal and sometimes vitriolic support of certain issues. I don't think that all these commenters actually believe what they push but seem to love the power given to them as a group to hide anything that goes against the groupthink.

It seems that Digg's strength of letting the users decide what gets to the front page and gets the most exposure is also its biggest weakness. No matter how it is implemented, taking any sort of editorial control will start to limit the range of stories available on Digg and then it will become just an semi-independent extension of the mainstream media. And we definitely don't need more mainstream media. 

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