digg.com: social media fail

my first social media addiction was digg.com. i started out slow, for the first year or so, digg was just an RSS feed in my google home page, one that was always populated with interesting stories. slowly, i began to get more involved, started to get social, made friends. i discovered that by connecting with people who were actively submitting good content, that i could create a kind of human news filter, that by following their submissions i could learn, be informed, and be entertained.

at the height of my digging, i would digg hundreds of stories each day – not all because i had read the whole article, because i also believed in supporting my friends, making sure they were rewarded for submitting quality content, because i knew that the numbers mattered. social media success is in many ways a contest, and i wanted my friends to win. supporting them was an instinctive thing on my part, because (having run a social website or two in my time), i understood the importance of encouraging the best contributors.

in an ideal social media, or any type of social site, status matters. go to any forum, any group site of any kind, and you will find they have top users, people who have committed a good deal of time and effort to build a good reputation. these users have more credibility, and many times expanded privileges, by virtue of their contributions, their dedication — it’s about quality, and it’s about trust. a social website’s best asset is its user base. this isn’t rocket science – it’s a complete and utter no-brainer. if you have dedicated, hard-working, talented contributors who make the effort to  submit quality content, you have a great website. if you have a random assortment of losers, spammers, and trolls making up most of the activity of your site, you have 4chan.

it was the people on digg that made it worthwhile for me to participate. people like Queenmoweeny, whose excellent post on Social News Central sums up  the stupidity of digg’s actions quite eloquently. when the bannings started and i saw the list, a virtual who’s-who of the best of digg, i was shocked, but not surprised. this is simply the culmination of a pattern that started early this year, when digg cranked down its algorithm to penalize successful, popular contributors in favor of newbies with no friends, no history, no reputation to uphold, and no stake in the site. “diversity”, they called it. it meant that if you had spent years building up trust, respect, and a loyal following, you had to work much, much harder to hit the front page. adding insult to injury, digg also allowed blatantly abusive behavior (as long as it was directed against its top users). and in spite of numerous calls for accountability, digg staff steadfastly insisted on allowing complete anonymity for down-votes (buries), and for the always-denied but completely obvious ‘auto-bury’, in which certain sites were blacklisted — submissions not refused, votes recorded, but at some point they would disappear from the upcoming stories and no amount of votes would cause them to reach front page. they granted more power over their content to the anonymous negatives than to the people who participated in a positive way.

so with this longstanding pattern of treating its best people like dirt, it should have been no surprise to see the list of banned diggers, yet it was. i just didn’t ever expect that people like Zaibatsu, or Queenmoweeny, or Cosmicdebris, would be banned from Digg, not really. the reasons given for all these bannings were by no means based in truth – and in the tradition of absolutely no transparency, completely arbitrary.  in the words of Graham (Cosmicdebris), who was banned for script usage but never used scripts, “I just want to speak with someone, face to face, in real time. Nowhere to hide baby! Please explain why you believe I’ve been using a script. Where is the proof? Is there any proof? Can I see the proof? Your word isn’t good enough. In court my legal team would be privy to anything you had. It’s a false accusation. I’ve always adhered to the TOU, never spammed, never been abusive to other diggers, reported spam and abuse. So why give me the boot trumping up the card of script usage. Two years on digg, 3708 submitted, 418 popular, 11.27% popular ratio. Well respected by the digg community for the quality my of submissions. What gives?”. he was given no answers, so he plans to travel to the UK digg meet-up to ask those very questions. i hope he gets an answer, but somehow, i doubt he will.

and that’s a damn shame, because let me tell you, the quality of his submissions was above reproach – as were most if not all of those digg members in the ban list. they are good people, and their efforts added great value to digg, and to those of us who befriended them there.

digg is addictive – and the power of a digg front page cannot be denied. i think Graham explained it quite well, echoing my feelings about this long history of bad management: “I left digg at the beginning of 2008 because I’d become very disillusioned with the whole digg experience, the algorithm changes, the trolls, the abusive front page community. I returned after 2 weeks absence,  I was weak and my “digg it”  implant got itchy. I left again for a period of 2 months starting at the end of July, for the same reasons. I returned once again because of my bored “digg it” finger roughly 10 days before I got banned.”

sometimes i too get an itchy digger finger, but i resist. i’d love to support the friends i have who are still active there, but in doing so i feel like i’d be enabling a *bad* habit – encouraging them to throw away their efforts in a venue where they are not appreciated or given the respect they deserve, and where they may be banned at any time for any reason, or for no reason at all.

soshable.com has graciously offered itself as a platform for disillusioned diggers to express themselves without fear of reprisals from digg, because people are still afraid of digg. as for myself, i am not banned (yet), but i have stopped using the site, so i am not afraid. they can’t take anything away from me that i do not want.

yesterday, i looked at that digg RSS feed in my google homepage, and my mouse cursor hovered over the little ‘x’. i didn’t click it, but i’m about to go do just that.

i’ll be adding links to other posts on this ‘digg blog day’ here:
Nethackz to host guest posts for Digg Blog Day
Diggstapo . . . The Term for Social Media’s Gestapo Called www.Digg.com
The Decline and Fall of Digg

5 thoughts on “digg.com: social media fail

  1. Liz, hon.. I am right there with ya.
    I have shunned digg. I feel these waves of bannings have *everything* to do with the new investors but I am not sure why or where they want to lead digg.

    What I have done to shunn digg:
    I used to have the app on my site
    that shows my latest diggs.
    I no longer digg
    so I changed it to the top diggs
    in all categories.

    I am ashamed to say but
    the front page of digg is starting to make more sense
    and appeal more to someone like me.

    (printing out bullseye to put over forehead)

    I am still boycotting!!

    CitizenX´s last blog post..wazzup+tech=sexy

  2. It’s all really unfair. Thanks for taking the time to explain it to me…I’d read ABOUT it all over the place but not having a long history (or any great success) with Digg, I didn’t understand.

    Kara´s last blog post..Hope

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