It’s obvious that the current state of affairs at Digg is becoming a hotbed of controversy. Like all conspiracy theories it’s fueled by a controversial subject without any conclusive evidence or meaningful debate. Is the Digg bury brigade real? I think it exists even though it may not be a group like one of those underground haXX0rz groups running a botnet but real in the sense that it produces similar effects.
Why is this story spinning out of control? It’s the lack of openness and willingness to discuss the issue with the community involved. It’s become a divisive issue pitting the rabid fanboys against users that are just as passionate but in a different way. Mix in the army of spammers lurking in the shadow and you get a never ending blood bath.
The current debate is in some ways like debating UFOs. Do they exist? There is no conclusive evidence that could convince skeptics and there is no lack of evidence that would sway a believer’s faith. However, the crucial difference here is that Digg does in fact have the evidence if they’d only analyze their data and maybe share with us some of the results. They certainly don’t want to go the AOL route and release all the privacy info but they can at least examine it, perform statistical analysis, report on it, and have a dialogue with the community to eventually fix it.
It’s not in fact the so-called bury brigade fueling this raging fire but Digg’s unwillingness to talk about it either way. Setting aside the irony of the “bury brigade” wreaking havoc on a site named “digg” we do know that the bury system is broken and needs some fixing.
Spam or Controversy
One of the problems with Digg’s bury system is that it doesn’t distinguish between spam and controversy. Sure, there are a couple options to bury stories like “lame”, “marked as inaccurate”, “dupe”, “wrong topic”, and “spam” but this classification invites abuse. It’s like handing enemies weapons from knives to nukes and saying “choose”. Of course, they’ll use nukes especially when they can lob them from complete darkness without ever being found out. The problem is the bury process is finalized in a more or less automatic way with Digg staff/moderators rarely reinstating something simply because it would be the right thing to do.
Sites affected are typically non-authority sites (big media, staples like TechCrunch & Engadget, etc.) with passionate readers. John Chow is a prominent example but so is Little Green Footballs.
Setting aside what you think of their ideology, you just have to laugh when you look at the search results for stories that never made the front page because their posts have more Diggs than the average front page story. Yet none of these posts made it to the front page. Not even for a minute.
I think it’s a fundamental flaw in the system. How can you avoid controversy? What use is the regular news section then? How can you realistically find safe topics that close to 1 million users can agree on? I think this is partly the reason why “AMAZING HDR Images” do so well despite the fact that people keep complaining of seeing the too much. At least you don’t get embroiled in a futile flame war.
Something should be done before Digg itself gets buried as lame.