That is great that Digg wants to redesign their web site and do cool stuff like making it more social. The problem with Digg is not that it is a bad system technologically; it is that it is impossible to get traction on the web site for some users because the way that the community is shaped. It is the anti-thesis of social; rather it is a heavily regulated non transparent sharing system. The system for all intents and purposes rewards the popular, and suppresses the unpopular. Which leaves some users without the ability to get traction on any story submitted, and the history of my experience with Digg shows that I am a prime candidate for the “Digg Ban Hammer.
Let’s take a look at the difference an open and closed social system is really all about when sharing information with readers.
As you can tell from the image, I have no influence on Digg, almost zero influence across the board, zero ability to promote sites I like (and I like a lot of sites). Even news worthy articles from Wired or CNet get dropped and fail to get anywhere, they simply do not garner votes. Now let’s see what things look like on Stumble Upon which is my social bookmark system of choice.
I have a ton more influence on Stumble upon than I do on Digg, I get better rewards, I know that I can send a pile of traffic to a web site because people are not constantly burying the articles that are being submitted. Of course there are some duds in there, but the overall experience of Stumble upon is radically different than Digg. It is truly the people who vote on sites in Stumble upon, nothing gets buried, it simply garners traffic or it does not.
Digg has been and has always seemed to be the playground and exclusive province of a select group of people who literally “own the system”. At least if someone hates something I stumble they simply don’t go there, and that is preferable to the Digg ban hammer. It really does not matter what candy coating Digg puts on its site, the problems with Digg are deeper and more fundamental than candy coating which will require a complete change of corporate culture and systems use culture.
So how would you abuse the ‘bury function’. Let’s say my friends and I had a political agenda, maybe there was an elected official we didn’t like. We could go out of our way to make sure any stories about that person that were positive got buried. The way the system currently works we could operate in complete secrecy without fear of our biases being exposed. Don’t think I’m right? Have you ever seen a positive story about George W. Bush on the homepage of Digg? Source: Wolf-Howl.com
Neil Patel at Pronet Advertising published an expose on how Digg is using unseen and unamed moderators to control which stories get promoted to it’s homepage. The real problem is they are “blaming” it on their users, which unfortunately for Digg, doesn’t corroborate with the data they are publishing Digg is Censoring Content by Burying Stories Internally. Source: Threadwatch
It seems that Digg enjoys censoring us and that they did not learn from the HD-DVD incident. It isn’t just Pronet Advertising who is experiencing bad Digg luck, but others such as Darius A Monsef IV from Young Go Getter is also experiencing the same thing with his blog. If you feel that your stories are getting buried internally I recommend checking out this URL because it will show you the last 10,000 buries. Source: Pronet Advertising
While this story is old, we know that Digg (and Stumbles for that matter) can be bought and sold; Digg needs to start working on transparency. With the monumental failure of the Digg Bar, it would look like Digg has not figured this out yet. While no one needs to know the internal workings of Digg or what happens under the hood, what I specifically want is what I have with Stumble upon. A clean easy to use interface where I have some influence, where the things I find interesting are not buried, they are simply not visited. Using Digg is old school. With old school problems like a lack of transparency, a history of doing things that cause a Digg Community Uprising like the AACS issue, producing products that inflate their own web page counts (the Digg Bar), why would anyone want to use the system? It is fundamentally unfriendly with a history of concerns for the average user who is a casual part of the Digg community.
Candy Coating aside, it would take a lot to even get me to reconsider using Digg. Many of us have moved on to more open and transparent systems, Twitter, Facebook, Stumble upon, smaller Communities of interest, FriendFeed and a ton of other systems are more important, more transparent, and more accessible than Digg. While it is nice to try to reinvent the system, in my opinion, Digg’s time has come and gone.
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(Cross-posted @ TechWag)