dig digg?

Ever since I’ve heard about Digg I was trying to figure out what is it about this social networking site that created such a buzz in the blogging world. So I’ve set up an account for myself over a year ago and tried to dig this site. I’m sorry to say but I just couldn’t get all that excited about it, except perhaps on one occasion, when a post with the final results from my first group writing project on Sources of Inspiration was dugg to the front page.

At first I eagerly started reading different how-to articles about Digg, checked out their cool labs, watched the incoming posts change with the speed of light, studied a few profiles. But after a few days I abandoned Digg for quite some time, only to come back to it occasionally. Then I started getting some shouts from friends, digging the recommended posts and the articles that I found interesting on the Web. But I still couldn’t understand what motivates some digg users to spend countless hours digging the web in search for some digg-worthy pages and build their profiles?

I still can’t comprehend that drive. Can you? There are a few other things that I can’t understand about Digg:

1. Duplicate Submission

How difficult is it to check whether the submitting URL has already been stored in Digg’s database? Why is it every time when I digg a new post, I have to go through a list of previous submissions only because Digg “suspects” that my story has already been dugg before? How come I don’t have to go through that additional checkup with StumbleUpon – whenever I give thumbs up to a page that hasn’t appeared on SU before, I get prompted to fill out the details, otherwise I don’t have to do any extra clicking – that page got my stumble.

2. Limited Categories

Is it so hard to add more categories to Digg? What if the article I’m digging is on Social Media, what category should I pick for it? It doesn’t belong under the Design, nor under News or Technology or Education, or is it? I’m not suggesting to duplicate all hundred categories from StumbleUpon, but a more intuitive approach to classification is in order, don’t you think?

3. Deadly Traffic

I have to admit I had an exhilarating experience watching the incoming traffic numbers when my post here got dugg. Fortunately my server had no problems handling it. Most other sites do crash under the digg-attack. But it’s not all about the numbers. Compared to the traffic from other social networking sites (stumbleupon, del.icio.us, reddit in particular), Digg’s traffic is dead after only a couple of days, RSS feed count drops back as fast as it jumps high, digg users hardly stay on the site longer than it takes them to scan the article.

And all the effort it requires to reach Digg’s front page to get that traffic? On average it takes over a hundred diggs for the article to get dugg to the top. If you take into an account all those hurdles an article has to go through to get those coveted diggs, you may start wondering – shouldn’t I just concentrate on my readers who favour StumbleUpon, since even their ten thumbs up will already bring me a nice quality steady traffic from StumbleUpon?

4. Belittling Comments

I absolutely cannot grasp the purpose of those cynical and insulting comments on Digg. Once again compared to the reviews on StumbleUpon it’s like all the Hydes are gathered together over at Digg, while Dr. Jekylls prefer to hang out and express their thoughts on StumbleUpon.
Did you also notice that strange effect when the more negative comments a submission gets, the more diggs it receives?

5. Unwritten Rules

The things I hate the most about the digg are all those unofficial rules that spread all over the Web: rules like “don’t submit your own posts to Digg”, or “if you digg one article, you should stay on the site a bit longer and digg some other submissions”. Why is it that every post published on Digg’s Blog by Kevin Rose gets thousands of diggs? Why is it that after awhile all Digg headlines start resembling each other, and still bloggers get advice on how to come up with the titles that would attract Digger’s attention?

6. Digg Toolbar anyone?

One of the things I like about StumbleUpon is how easy it is to stumble a post or browse for other stumbled posts. Whoever designed that StumbleUpon bar was usability genius. How come that nobody has come up with a similar toolbar for Digg? There are several add-ons, and that Google Gadget for digg, but none of them are as intuitive and simple to use as SU.

I’ve recently installed two Firefox add-ons for Digg: Smart Digg Button and Digg Firefox Extension. The first one adds either the number of diggs for the current page on Firefox status bar or the words Digg This and takes you to Digg to submit that story. The second one adds a separate section for Digg in the Firefox menu bar, with some extra options like seeing the recent comments, diggers, or the top stories. In either cases I have to be logged in to Digg to cast my vote, unlike with StumbleUpon that logs me on SU whenever I launch my browser.

7. What’s the reward?

What is so rewarding to be part of Digg’s elite – Top 100 diggers? If it’s all about power and recognition, is it really worth it? To me the status of top diggers resembles the one of a celebrity who gets bombarded by paparazzi and fans who want a piece of that star light: everyone all of sudden wants to befriend the top digger and start sending shouts, or simply copying every move he makes. What’s so rewarding about that?

8. What’s with the obsession?

And why so many of us are still obsessed with Digg? With so many new social networking sites on the horizon, how long will that obsession and Digg itself last? What is it that you like about Digg? Is there anything that you don’t like about it? How do you benefit from being active on Digg? How do you stay active on Digg?

I would love to read your thoughts about Digg. You can either share them in the comments below or whip up an article and submit to the Social Media Mega Project. Oh, and if you would like to befriend me on Digg, feel free to do so. Perhaps together we’ll be able to dig Digg better.

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16 Insightful Bits in response to “Can You Dig Digg?”

  1. Well said again.
    Digg is nothing more than a self-serving tool. It exists not to inform (and certainly not to educate), but rather is a means by which blog/site owners can attract more traffic. It’s not that I never Digg, and I do appreciate the traffic (though with Digg it usually lasts for n longer than a day or two).

    I believe that it’s probably quite easy to get more Diggs if one puts a little effort into it (I really can’t be bothered): just add hundreds and hundreds of friends, Digg their items like crazy, then send a shout when you want your stiff Dugg. I imagine that’s how it works.

  2. I don’t really like Digg. I like the idea of writing what you like and if people like it, they like it, and if they don’t they don’t. Digg seems to encourage people to write for the headline; although, whether that is Digg, or the several thousand articles telling you how to get Dugg I don’t know.

    The negativity is also quite scary. I am sure all of my articles contain something that can be picked apart, if it didn’t no one would comment, but it would scare me to get digged.

    StumbleUpon seems a nice compromise. I like that you don’t need to see a league table of popularity, you just get taken to a site and get to check it out, and of course the toolbar makes it dead easy.

  3. I forgot to subscribe. :-)

  4. I hate digg just because I can’t get on it. I have managed to get onto everything else but I have never got more than 74 diggs on one post. I want to have the Digg effect damn it, just to say I have done it and to see how the server holds up.
    But you do bring up some very valid points which are very true.
    At the moment my favourite ones are DesignFloat and StumbleUpon…

  5. I once had a similar fascination, Vivien, and wrote a few blog articles about it, but now I just don’t have much time to devote.

    John sums it up about how to get ‘dugg’ when he says: “I believe that it’s probably quite easy to get more Diggs if one puts a little effort into it (I really can’t be bothered): just add hundreds and hundreds of friends, Digg their items like crazy, then send a shout when you want your stiff Dugg. I imagine that’s how it works.”

    I guess so too, unless you were one of the elite first on board who have the power to drive thousands of visitors wherever they want.

    What’s with banning sites from the front page too? Like CopyBlogger? Surely you’d want quality up there?

  6. I am absolutely agree at the point of how inbalance situation when we talk about the effort we spent for the digg versus the short heavy traffics in return. I begin to have sceptical thoughts about many other socio media sites that are running on the same way as Digg, such as Blog Engage, BumpZee, Blogging Zoom, etc. I wonder how many percent of the Duggers are actually read or visit the submitted links? Seriously, to have better quality dig at Digg sounds good to me :)

  7. * I used to like Digg a lot and would frequently check out the handful of categories I really liked for new stories, but dislike that the focus of their development efforts has been things like friends & friends activity. I’ve also gotten a ton of spam messages from companies trying to get me to Digg their products, so all that has turned me off Digg. That and the site just feels really slow nowadays.

    * Stumbleupon has given my site the most traffic by far, but I prefer using Safari most of the time instead of Firefox, so Stumbleupon isn’t something I check out all that often for personal use because its real usefulness without that toolbar is limited.

    * I like to browse Reddit the most for news and other breaking events. The site feels much faster to me and the interface is pretty minimalist, which I like.

    * My favorite one these days is Delicious, because there’s real personal value in storing and managing all the links I think I might need again.

    “Is it so hard to add more categories to Digg?”

    I don’t think it’s hard, it just becomes too unwieldy for the average person to check out if you make things too specific and have hundreds of categories instead of dozens. They have to work hard to get the balance just right.

    “How difficult is it to check whether the submitting URL has already been stored in Digg’s database?”

    If anybody knows the real answer to this I’d be pretty interested in finding this out, because it should be trivial. The only explanation that I can come up with that makes even the tiniest bit of sense is that they have multiple databases for scaling reasons and they get so many simultaneous submissions that they think they need that extra user check to try and doubly make sure that no duplicate links are submitted. But even that honestly doesn’t make too much sense.

  8. I have had a lot of luck with the social site of presscue (you.presscue).

    They can generate decent traffic, and it is not that difficult to get to the sites front page at the moment.

    The best part is, you don’t need to sign up to submit, vote or comment.

  9. Vivien,

    The most I ever got was 34 diggs I believe. Definitely not enough.

    I did have the privilege of burying my first comment the other day (oh the power, I know).

    It almost seems like Diggers and Stumblers are opposites. Diggers love to put people down, while Stumblers love pulling people up.

  10. That reminds me: the only time I did get Dugg, it took down my server :) Meant to say too, that Stumbleupon furnishes me with much more traffic than Digg.

  11. Hi everyone, thanks for your comments. Sorry for not getting back earlier, battling another cold, emptying tissue boxes :-(

    John, I remember when your post got Dugg, in addition to the digg effect, your site was also experiencing the “Zeldman effect”, so no wonder your server crushed ;-) I guess you’re right about cracking the digg secret of getting the diggs, but to me that doesn’t justify all those efforts, so I’m more like you – won’t be bothered to try it out.
    And I too get more traffic from StumbleUpon lately.

    Andrew, that’s how I feel looking at all those almost identically styled headlines on Digg. Is human psychology that simple that between a regularly titled article and the one that starts with “How To..”, “Top 10″, “Not to miss…” we’ll choose the latter ones? And yes, the negative comments there can get very scary.

    Jacob, I was sure that your 99 resources article will get dugg. Looks like indeed the existence of top diggers as your friends is more essential, rather than a digg-targeted headline. But I’m sure you got lots of traffic from StumbleUpon where users appreciated your efforts in putting together all those resources.

    David, the banning just confirms that Digg is nothing more than a social mafia that controls who gets dugg and who goes down. I can understand banning illegit spammers, but that’s not the case here.

    Audee, I doubt that diggers, who care more about building their profiles on Digg, read much of their dugg articles. That’s why there are so many articles teaching us how to write effective, provocative, attractive headlines and start the articles with a bang – when someone diggs 100 articles in 2 hours, how is it possible to read them all?

    Chris, thanks so much for your response. You’ve addressed my curiosity about getting too many requests to digg others’ articles once you achieve a certain rank as a digger.
    You mentioned you prefer reddit over digg to get your news. Is it how you use reddit, just to read what’s popular there or are you submitting articles to reddit as well?

    Social_news, I do hope your comment here was more than just a promotion of you.prescue. I did briefly visit that site, but didn’t find it all that attractive.

    Ronald, yes, 34 diggs are not enough, even 77 diggs weren’t enough for Jacob’s article. I think with their recent algorithm changes, it takes a minimum of 100 diggs to get promoted to the front page.

  12. Just to answer your question Vivien, I occasionally submit articles to Reddit, but mostly I just prefer scanning it for breaking news that I’m interested in reading about.

  13. I have no interest in getting Dugg. I’m rather afraid of it, to tell the truth! I don’t want the nasty comments, the strain on my server, the low value traffic that results… not one aspect of Digg sounds appealing to me. I think I started getting a ton of spam after one of my articles was Dugg by a few people recently, too. It went from about 10 per day to over 200. I think I need to do that Spam Without Captcha trick you told me about!

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    [...] Can You Dig Digg?, where I contemplate about 8 things that I especially don’t understand about Digg and the obsession with it. [...]

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Hi, I'm Vivien. Thanks for visiting my Inspiration Bit. I often find myself scouring the internet looking for either answers to many questions I have or websites that inspire me, sites that I can learn from. On what topics you might ask — any topics that interest me, anything from web design to typography and art, from blogging to entrepreneurship, from programming to open source.
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When I'm not blogging, I design web sites, teach, play with my daughter and try to balance family, work, friends and a somewhat active social life on