Digg Gaming Required Of Active Diggers

Published by • January 28th, 2008 RSS News Feed

This article is a follow-up to a recent piece posted on thie site: ”Digg’s Double-Edged Sword.” 

Digg’s latest changes didn’t put an end to gaming as was intended. Instead, gaming is now required of active diggers who seek to hit the front page.

If you’re an active social network user, then you’re likely familiar with Digg and the latest problems that have arisen with recent algorithm changes. In short, Digg recently made an effort to curb gaming of their website by changing how stories are promoted and if you’ve been following the drama, it looks like Digg succeeded on some levels.

There has been a lot of talk about the casual-digger versus power-digger conundrum that has played out on Digg. Casual Digg users have laughed and even prodded at the Digg community’s top supporters for losing “power”.

Who got squeezed by the new Digg algorithm? It’s not who you think!

New users got what they wanted and top diggers with a huge fan-base are a tad uncomfortable, but they’ll survive. Arguably, the most important users of Digg’s community are the ones hit hardest by new changes, it’s the active diggers that provide the Digg community with diggs, comments and link “new users” to “top users” via social networking.

If you don’t believe me, ask the top digg users if they have hit the front page in the last 48 hours. The response will be similar from our mini-celebrities in the community. MrBabyman / Muhammad Saleem and Zaibatsu (aka “Reg” / Z) aren’t the ones denied access to the front page, nor should they be! It is not those users that have had their Digg experience ruined and chances are they didn’t miss a beat despite participating (in some form) in the backlash against Digg last week.

Did Digg go too far and were active diggers right to react angrily to the new changes?

My initial position was that diggers were being melodramatic and reactionary. But hey, drama is what makes the world go ’round and it sure helps drive communities on social networks, especially if you follow politics.

I’ll give an example of something that the new Digg algorithm did cure and explain how this cure essentially served to squeeze out the large base of users that are active but lack the strong fan-base that Digg’s top users have.

Digg’s Front Page — taking out the trash

Digg did a good job of removing the spammy lame garbage posts from the front page. What I mean is, some blogs essentially quoted long passages from other sites and added a line or two of commentary and would make the front page.

The reason these garbage sites would hit the front page was because of the way the algorithm worked – it focused on friends and lobbying and sites with already large communities would get automatic diggs in addition to the friend’s of diggers who would submit the articles.

The problem that Digg is going to have to deal with is that they seem to have tightened the screw a bit too much making it difficult, if not impossible, for active diggers to have their content hit the front page. In fixing the ‘garbage-blog’ problem, Digg killed the ability of middle-of-the-road diggers and some quality digg content-submitters to hit the front page. One of my active interests on Digg is politics, so a good analogy is when cities actively clean the streets by ‘removing’ homeless people during the Olympics. They may have good reasons for doing it, but hiding the problem and cheating the public out of the truth only temporarily hides the homelessness problem and doesn’t actually fix it!

Where does that leave top diggers that are marginalized by the new system?

Whereas active diggers previously may have accomplished multiple front-page articles with quality content before, they can’t make the front page to save their lives. A number of diggers who actively engage the community on Digg are no longer front-page worthy using prior Digg strategies and friend support.

Where does it leave active users who don’t have two to three thousand fans? People in my boat aren’t interested in switching social networks, we don’t have time to get situated in a new community or learn a new system, so my only option is to do exactly what Digg programmers are trying to prevent.

In order for active users to hit the front page with quality content, gaming is now required! Essentially, users like me are forced to add more friends and shout-spam while commenting and lobbying for support on articles I’d like to share. The entire purpose of Digg is defeated for people like myself who are boxed-in by the new rules.

Based on what I know so far, I can’t defeat the algorithm without ‘gaming’ the system and I’m not exactly a new user in-fact I’m probably one of the more active diggers around! Here, let me explain. Before the Digg algorithm changes, getting to the front page with ‘good stuff’ wasn’t terribly difficult for me because I managed to make friends with a lot of active diggers and frequently contributed to discussions that would help give my profile exposure.

Digg wants to prevent ‘trivial’ front-page submissions, understandable, but the problem is that now a lot of really good stories will not hit the front page. If you’ve been paying attention – like I have — minus the spam-blog fix, the over-all quality of Digg’s front page stories have diminished considerably.

Prior to the Algorithm Changes…

I purposely kept my list small, maybe in the 100-110 range for the most part and I did so for the purpose of following all of my friend’s submissions. If they submitted good stuff, I wanted to be there to digg and/or comment! It made sense, it worked well but it made Digg a strong lobby system that spammers quickly exploited for their own profitable gain. The fact is, however, that I never felt a need to “game” the system when I was submitting quality articles… the system just worked.

Digg fixed the problem with mass-friend adding and spam-shouting but because of the user interface, many stories on “upcoming” aren’t seen. The only way I can imagine getting articles on the front page is by adding a few hundred more friends and hope they aren’t on the digg shit-list.

Active Digger “Shit-List”

I call it a “shit -ist” because if you’re friends with active diggers chances are ‘you are one.’ If this is the case, the threshold for promotion is very high and requires the effort that you’d expect from a full-time job.

Fine, I’ll play along with the “new Digg” and I will go ahead and add a bunch of new friends that allow ‘shouts’ to their profiles. If they don’t allow shouts they are useless because others won’t see my shout-spam for articles I’d like on the front page. Is that the effect that Digg programmers were hoping for? I really hope not, because it sounds counter-intuitive and inefficient. Further, the system is so damned slow as it is I can’t imagine why they’d want to see the system taxed further.

Conclusion: I’ll play the game, but it isn’t a very fun game because I feel like I’m working a job now and getting no love in return. My intent is not to come off as a whiny digger and I know that my words may come off that way to some. The idea was to share my latest Digg experience and the logic that goes through the minds of people adversely affected by the algorithm who nevertheless want to be front-page capable again.

I’ll report back with my results and findings to complement my above views on how the middle guy, not just the ‘top diggers’ got squeezed out of the equation by Digg’s brilliant new algorithm.

Itola Author

is an Attorney and Entrepreneur from the Silicon Valley.
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1 Comment »

Comment by paper shredders
2008-07-24 09:38:00

Digg Gaming Required Of Active Diggers

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