There’s a bit of a brouhaha about Digg right now. I read an article by David Cohn (formerly of the LD!) yesterday on the so-called “Bury Brigade” (the people who apparently hide unwanted stories from getting well-Dugg) and then today started off with a band as a Wired reporter demonstrated the effectiveness of “buying” her way onto Digg. This caused quite the stir across the good ol’ blogosphere (read more: Boing Boing, Mike Arrington, and Mathew Ingram).
Now, while I’ve mentioned Digg a couple of times (1 2), this really isn’t the kind of right/wrong debate I typically delve into. Why? Well, as I advise my clients, getting Dugg might bring you traffic, but it doesn’t necessarily bring you highly relevant traffic, and can be as much a distraction as anything else. Also, unless you are a tiny startup trying to get said traffic, it doesn’t necessarily really matter in the long run anyway.
The reason I say this is because the demographics around Digg are so wide and so varied, with a clear leaning towards “high-tech” and, well, young. Five minutes of reading comments on any random post shows the level of mature thought and discussion is about on par with your typical AOL chat room or MySpace profile. Again, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it also isn’t necessarily a good one.
I’ve always assumed that Kevin Rose and the Digg team have good intentions. Never met em, I don’t listen to their podcasts, I actually have no personal reason to think that. But something about the techie nature of the site seemed to imply a certain youthful energy combined with a bit of an innocence that made me feel that they were trying to do some good (and not in the Google way of saying they aren’t evil, yet acting the opposite).
So when I first learned a bit about the concept of the ‘bury brigade’ and the ever-changing algorithms, I had assumed the Digg system was trying to evolve to follow a “Communist” structure. All people can participate equally. Those who participate more regularly become more noticed and influential, but ultimately anyone can rise/fall in the “esteem” of the masses. UPDATE: while further researching this topic, I found Mike Arrington’s article “Digg should sue Wired” is presently the #1 Dugg story on Digg, and not a single negative-to-Digg article is anywhere to be found…
When I read Kevin’s blog post today, my feelings turned from being reminded of a Communist entity, into one more akin to the KGB. Despite all the points made by so many different people regarding Digg and burying posts, Kevin manages to write an entire post that basically boils down to not providing any new information. He doesn’t address most concerns, he doesn’t mention plans to fix problems, he basically says “spam is bad” and “the data on this page is inaccurate” (I paraphrased). Note that Kevin’s post is a top-10 item on Digg (at this moment).
I guess in Digg land, all users may Digg/bury equally, but some do it more equally than others.
The traffic from Digg might be fast and furious and you are right about it being low quality traffic for most brands, but getting the right story on Digg can still yield dividends, especially for the right brand. While all the noob comments get pretty old fast, once a story gets picked up on Digg, it almost always shows up on at least a few blogs. I don’t think it’s as influential as techmeme for the early adopter crowd, but I see Gizmodo, Engadget, Techdirt, etc. pull stories off of Digg all the time.