The Chickens Have Come Home to Roost

In a dramatic turn of events, Kevin Rose quelled the Digg mob by posting the very HD DVD hex code that they sought to suppress and doing an about face from the CEO’s statement. It was a defining moment.

A lot of websites talk about being community-powered/centered/driven but there’s always a definite retention of control over the service. Even large forums are moderated to a greater or lesser extent.

Kevin Rose obviously saw a great threat against the very fabric that holds Digg together after all the recent missteps they’ve taken in dampening the communities loyalty. However, I think the long-term consequences of this will be detrimental to Digg as a corporation and community.

First, there’s the immediate legal situation facing Digg now that they have disobeyed the HD-DVD industry’s cease & desist. The entertainment industry has shown time and again that they could care less about bad publicity in light of pursuing “landmark” targets and Digg will certainly be a juicy one to make an example of. A cease and desist is hardly as scary as it seems because the issuing party is doing it to avoid a legal confrontation rather than start one. Still, the visibility of this case could push the DVD industry to retaliate.

Now, the only way out of a confrontation is to fight it to the very end or come to an agreement and delete the offending content. If Digg does capitulate, there might not be a revolt on the scale we witnessed but it will look even worse than if they had simply stuck to their original policy.

There Goes the Neighborhood…

By redeeming themselves to the “mob” the Digg management have basically sanctified the rowdy hordes that populate the deep underbelly of the comments section. It’s really obscene when you think about how much Digg polices and repeatedly punishes some of the biggest contributors while literally bending over for the “terrorists” that give Digg such a bad reputation.

The fact that one of the founders of a company can be persuaded to engage in teenage disobedience antics with the blessings of management is really disturbing to me.

We’ve heard all kinds of talks about Digg being a potential acquisition target but I think that this and their high cost margins basically leave them to go their own route for the foreseeable future without hope for acquisition.

My personal take

My personal take is that the bury squad and Digg mob is about the only rabidly loyal segment of Digg users that’s currently left. This combined with the fact that Digg’s been covertly policing content for sometime probably frightened them enough to face the threat of legal action in order to make it look like they rarely censor stuff (especially commentaries critical of Digg).

I think the whole affair was pitiful the second Kevin Rose waved his white flag. The chickens have come home to roost.

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