Time To Bash Digg

November 27, 2006

So two weekends ago it was Yahoo!’s turn as the whiffle ball in the blogosphere batting cage (via the now infamous Peanut Butter Manifesto); now it seems like it’s Digg’s. And I suppose I’ll take a few swings.

First, here’s a really negative article from BusinessWeek about how Digg just isn’t useful anymore. It makes the obvious complaint about lots of stupid articles getting to the front page.

The nasty fact is that that once any site gets popular enough, all the spammers start showing up. You also have to deal with mobs of users just voting up or down certain stories without reading them (because of political bias, or just hating certain sites). Meanwhile, the primary site just gets lame.

Next, since Valleywag laughed at Jason Calacanis’ Netscape traffic numbers, they blast Digg’s numbers as highly inflated. The reasons are: 1. Comscore disagrees. 2. RSS loads shouldn’t count. Either way, even if Digg’s numbers are right, a larger and larger percentage of visitors are spammers, which isn’t the right kind of traffic.

Lastly, Mark Evans uses this theme to ask the question, how much user content do we really need? I don’t think there is any question there’s too much. I don’t even want to revisit some of the crap I’ve generated on my own blog.

One hard realization about user rated content is that the lowest common denominator has a nasty way of winning out. You set up a system to discover the next John Lennon and you’re handed Taylor Hicks. The bottom line: Digg is a popularity contest, not a quality assurance effort.

So what’s my take? The obvious solution is that there has to be some sort of editor. I don’t care if it’s an algorithm, the wisdom of crowds, or a person. Whoever builds that website will earn my eyeballs, because I need to find articles to blog about so I can submit them to that same website until one day I can blog about myself filtered through a hundred other bloggers – that is blogging nirvana.

So I haven’t given up on Digg, but will mention that although I scan their RSS feed daily, I only occasionally visit the site. I have become a “hit and run” digger. And right now, I’m liking memeorandum, TechMeme, and Technorati more and more, probably because they limit the sites that are linked to. There’s less crap to wade through.

Here’s more reading on the subject: Scoble agrees Digg has too much crap, another blogger complains about the duplication in the main site feed, and another complaint about the quality.


  1. tunequestor says:

    The thing I see missing from digg is a sense of community. Most visitors it seems, myself included, simply go to the site to find neat tricks, dumb videos and interesting commentary. Find it, read it, digg it and leave. Sometimes get caught up in the comments (which often are more enlightening than the source article).

    But really, I’ve been there a few months now and I’ve not noticed much care among the users of the site for the other users of the site. Sure you can bookmark “friends” and make links and connections, but it’s all very utilitarian in the sense that “this person’s links could benefit ME.” There’s not much incentive for site users to invest energy into improving it. Those people who do SEEM to care about the site often resort to yelling berating and complaining as though the site is their personal play thing without offering anything constructive.

    So digg continues to evolve into simply a place to score cheap info (for visitors) or cheap traffic (for submitters).

  2. Webomatica says:

    Tunequestor that is a good observation. I think maybe the lack of care occurs when the number of users is so large that people ironically become more or less anonymous – kind of like how in a big city people figure “well I’ll never see this person again” so they just act rude.

    One way digg could conceivably rectify this is make it clear who diggs a comment up or down. They already have a way of showing who diggs a certain story but who’s going to browse through 1,000 users to pick out a person. At least with the comments, when I notice someone diggs my comment down for no clear reason (which for some reason happens to mine a lot) I could track that person down.

    It’s the anonimity that makes people feel less accountable (as craigslist demonstrates). It’s actually strange: a social site gets so popular that it actually becomes more anti-social because of the huge numbers.

    But ultimately, I don’t have any clear answers or solutions which is why I’m blogging instead :)