Usually I don’t have time nor do I like to read very long articles on the internet. If I find something really worth reading and it’s long, then I print it out and read the hard copy. But this analysis of Digg written by 3Monkeys got my attention and I read the entire article online.

Three guys have collaborated on a research paper for a Georgia Tech project and started digging into Digg. One of the authors was a regular Digg user while others registered on Digg to study the environment. They did interview several Top 20 Digg users, as well as some common Digg users (you can read their profiles in the post). Their article proved my suspicion that most of the Top Digg users are male. They were able to locate one female Digg user who agreed to participate in the research.

I recommend you to read Digging for Diggers: Analysis of a Social Media Website, but I will outline here a few points that answered some of my questions about Digg.

I was always wondering how a recently submitted article gets noticed on Digg? Most of the time there are over six thousands stories in the queue, how can any person read, or even scan, so many stories? Well, as it turns out, Digg users first browse stories that their friends dug or submitted and only then glance through upcoming ones.

One of the things I don’t like about Digg is the quality of comments. Apparently, it’s bothering many Digg users as well. “Almost unanimously, our participants felt that the quality of the comments was remarkably poor, and tended to view them with carefully measured disgust.” I realize that it’s an impossible task to moderate comments on Digg, but if the comments don’t really contribute to the story, why not simply close down the comments altogether? Or at least, Digg developers could add a profanity-control program to their comment system.

Their study talks about “four main categories of deviant behavior: misuse of comments, non-quality oriented burying, blind digging and digging for cash.”

The article also categorizes Digg users into four main types: “achievers, explorers, socializers and killers.” They identify Top users as Achievers, who long for recognition that the Top users receive. But just like in real life, some of them are abusing the system by receiving payment for submitting the stories, or favouring one site while burying others.

The Explorers are the ones who are constantly poking the system, looking for flaws, studying the trends on what type of stories are favoured by Diggers, writing headlines that grab Digg users attention, and so on.

There are also Digg Socializers: they either like discussing stories in the comments, or writing about them on their blogs.

As for Killers, their motives to bury the story can vary. Unless they admit to burying the post, the system doesn’t show who buried the story and how many times. However, Digg needs to have a better control over this, because “buries are given a lot of weight to make it easier to kill spam submissions, a small number of Killers abusing the bury system could have a chilling effect on Digg”.

In the conclusion:

“Several people we spoke with expressed frustration at the number of sensationalistic or pop culture articles that reach the front page as opposed to what they view as higher quality content when the site was not as wildly popular.

We were surprised at the extent to which a community did exist among the top users. They seem to truly enjoy communicating with each other, know a lot about the other users and even interact on non Digg related topics even though none of this is officially supported by Digg.”

It is a well-written article, so it didn’t surprise me that this post didn’t reach the Digg’s front page, though it did receive 58 diggs (and no comments).
I guess, Diggers don’t like when others dig their profiles.

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10 Insightful Bits in response to “Digg – Up close and personal”

  1. LGR

    The first rule of Digg is you don’t talk about Digg! There have been many good articles about Digg lately that question the site and how it is run. Usually the stories get buried, even when they are popular. I have to wonder if the community at Digg will actually be it’s downfall. The larger question is will the mob mentality carry over to other community based sites and cause them problems as well. Time will tell.

  2. Actually, Stacy is a guy’s name as well :) http://3monkeyweb.com/3monkeys/about/

  3. ibit

    I didn’t mention any names in my post, did I?

  4. This is a very long post and I have no time to read it, sorry! :P

  5. Scott Sherrill

    Hi. I’m one of the authors. Nice to see someone actually read it and glad you enjoyed it.

  6. ibit

    Sorry, Ilker, I know what you mean :-) It did turn out to be a long post, didn’t it? Well, the original article is ten times longer but it is worth reading. Thanks for digging the post, Ilker.

  7. ibit

    Hi Scott. Thanks for stopping by. You and others did a really great job analyzing Digg.

  8. ibit, you didn’t mention any names but “Their article proved my suspicion that most of the Top Digg users are male. They were able to locate one female Digg user who agreed to participate in the research.” Seemed to indicate that 3Monkeys was a female. Just read that way :)

  9. ibit

    Oh, no… I was just referring to that one female who you interviewed for your research :-)

  1. University Update

    Digg – Up close and personal…

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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