New York Times Adds Social News Bookmarks – Good?

December 11, 2006

Oh yeah… more evidence of Web 2.0 gaining old media’s respect. The New York Times finally added some “social news” bookmarking buttons next to their articles, so readers can submit interesting stuff directly to the websites Digg, Facebook, and Newsvine. Maybe they looked at their traffic logs and realized Digg was regularly sending them viewers.

One thing that’s always bugged me about many newspaper websites is their stogy refusal to allow public comments. Wheras on many social news sites, the comments are a big part of the appeal. Therefore, it’s sometimes more fun to browse New York Times articles on a site where all the boring stuff hasn’t been rated and there are tons of comments showing people’s opinions.

But before you think the New York Times is finally getting on the cutting edge, other people on the bleeding edge are starting to wonder what’s the point of these social sites like digg. Check out this blog opinion here at Download Squad.

His basic feeling is that digg is “rotting from the inside out,” and feels that type of story that makes the front page is usually inflammatory, negative, and lowest common denominator stuff. The “wisdom of crowds” is not really wisdom, it’s a popularity contest, and there’s a reason why Taylor Hicks is the next American Idol, too. I’ve mused about this before.

However, I think ultimately this depends on what kind of person you are and what you get out of the internet. It’s hard to not see a sort of elitist stance coming from people who bash digg. I don’t think the site has ever advertised itself as a brain trust. I mean, the whole diggnation video involves beer drinking, swearing, and saying “dude” a million times.

I also disagree with his opinion about digg traffic. It’s been a while since I made the front page of digg, but there’s been a fairly decent “echo effect” from the digging of this blog – my traffic and page views got a nice boost as well as my ad situation. My experience was defintely in opposition to “digg users don’t click on ads.” I also witnessed page views across my site in addition to my other site Bottle Cap-O-Rama, which had nothing to do with the dugg articles.

So while a huge onslaught of digg users isn’t the ideal audience and may not be the best way to build lasting readership, I don’t think one can stereotype and say it’s a big negative. It’s a great way to get an audience for your site – just make sure there’s something of value there when they arrive. Plus, it sure beats working in a vacuum, waiting for users to come to you.

What worries me more is when people start pandering to the social news sites and start sacrificing quality for the shot of digg love. If I see a newspaper like NYTimes – a bastion of elitist, quality journalism – position “Top Ten Hot Apple Chicks Who Love Web 2.0″ as the lead story on the Wall Street Journal – I’ll call digg a failure.