The recent net media circus on Digg is like the classic question of loyalty to one’s nation: are you a traitor for criticizing government or a true patriot? Of course, it depends on your intent but don’t ask the flag-waving population or you might get lynched.
Recently, lots of posts have been made on Digg’s issues (even on this blog) regarding the troubles brewing from within. The main point of contention is whether the elite submitters (the Top 100 club) are dragging Digg down or is it the “bury brigade” (a negative horde of commenters and voters who will lash out and attack anything that threatens their status quo or sense of superiority).
At the end of the day, only Digg can truly come up with the answer. They’re the only ones with the real data that could truly analyze which party is really hurting their long-term interests. It’s a shame they can give us some anonymized data along with expert analysis.
As of right now, they’ve sided with the bury brigade by taking out the top ranking users list. Now lots of top posters have become less active. On the upside, there are lots of new people making front page stories. On the downside, there is a noticeable drop in traffic according to Alexa (which is a suspect metric but hey) and a drop in overall quality (at least that’s what I hear from a lot of users).
Why is all the negative press on Digg removed by either the bury brigade or in some cases flagged by Digg’s very own staff? Do they want to send out the message that a news voting site can’t take criticism of itself?
I can’t understand why a voting site would allow for any kind of tampering whether it’s by staff or systemic. The main problem with Digg is they counter one form of tampering and padding with another that screws up the whole voting system over the long-term. The positive (in terms of voting) tampering is the friends system that leverages the visibility of posts from well-connected members. The negative is manifested in the bury brigade that uses Digg’s erratic classification of bad content (spam? dupe? lame? what?) that allows members with malicious intent to wreak havoc.
Sometimes Passion Makes Flaws More Apparent
When I first set out to get my stories onto the Digg front page I made one crucial assumption:
- if nobody other than Kevin Rose has an innate advantage to get on Digg, there must be a weakness in the system that will maximize my chances
In order to capitalize on that you need to first level the playing field by finding a way to get the best stories first and next write gripping copy that will get the voters attention.
But with all the eyes on the internet it’s hard to get something first. Naturally, chance should give every user an opportunity to submit a good story from their daily dish of news sites. However, the fact is the same story from two different users will have different lives like twins separated at birth: one to a wealthy family, the other to a foster home. One will break through to fame the other will die in obscurity.
Of course, like it’s been said many times before, it’s Digg’s friend system that’s the root of this particular evil and not any gaming or manipulation. I will say that gaming and manipulation happens on Digg more than most people realize but that top users will rarely risk the account that they so painstakingly built up.
The irony is that because Digg ripped out the top users list but didn’t fix the friends system. So while many top rankers slowed down (what’s the difference between 10 front page stories or 100 if you have no rank to check the status?), the second tier users with lots of friends started getting more attention due to less competition.
I’ve always contended that spreading knowledge on how more friends increase your chances for the front page will level the playing field. Because, when you have two people with an equal number of friends submitting stories, the ones with the best sources, best blurbs and titles, and the quickest fingers will win.
The fact is that the more you care for something and the more you use something the more you will see flaws as much as the strong points. The honeymoon can only last so long. Indifference is what really kills a relationship and I think the current numbers show that this is the direction Digg is headed in.
We’re reading how Digg is going down the drain or something needs to be fixed. Sure, Digg staff and the bury brigade can keep these stories from ever reaching the majority of rabidly loyal users but who’s going to really get hurt in the long-term?
Are the top Diggers simply primed and ready to find a new home? Will Digg find a way to improve the real situation? Let’s see what happens.