Is Digg’s day done?

This post was partially inspired the fact Digg recently banned my user account – and by using IP blocking also blocked at least 8 other Digg users in an office of over 500 people.

Rather than focus on the individual implications, it prompted me to look deeper at the role Digg serves – and led me to a conclusion that Digg’s days are numbered.

The theory:

Digg doesn’t work as a proposition. Essentially, the site allows people to submit stories from around the web and vote on them, but that’s a tool or mechanism. It’s not a business or user proposition. And every time I think I might have figured out what the proposition could be, I come up against something within the Digg system that prevents it.

If you want an idea of the general news ranked by the opinions of the widest audience, you’d pick Yahoo Buzz. Sadly Compete seems to default to Yahoo.com for the url analytics, but even so, it provides reasonable size evidence.

The green line = Yahoo.com, the blue line = Digg, and the red line is Facebook.com.

And the reason I’ve included Facebook is the real reason I’m not digging Digg anymore. You might defend Digg as a niche site for technology and the bizarre (the actual submission trend has gone towards more lifestyle recently), and point to the size advantage it has over Slashdot and Techmeme, that’s not where my real niche news is coming from, and not where an increasing number of people are getting it.

The trend is towards communication, conversation, and friend/network recommendation. Hence Facebook, and the following graph comparing trends for Digg and Twitter:

Digg vs Twitter on Google Trneds

If the trend continues, Digg has put itself in a corner. Because despite providing tools such as Friend Lists, and being about to ‘Shout’ stories to your friends, Digg bans you for being social.

Having multiple accounts from the same IP address should not have resulted in a ban – some were registered 2 years before the most recent, some were logged in at the same time etc – and a simple check on the IP would show it’s registered to a large company.

Submitting stories from your own sites is allowed in the Digg Terms of Service – as long as it doesn’t reach spam levels.

That only leaves the fact some of these accounts were ‘Digging’ the stories submitted by others on their Friends List – from the same IP address. Something which presumes we were trying to game the system, rather than the fact we happen to work together because we have a shared interest. ( We’re not the only ones!) Annoyingly, we did get a previous Bad IP address error which was lifted when I explained we all worked in the same building. Now, however, it’s an instant ban with no discussion – despite the fact it means I’d need to monitor the Digg accounts of anyone within a building of over 500 people.

And if you do have a friends network you’ve built up legitimately and there’s any hint of nepotism, Digg automatically gives it a lower ranking. Which would be fine over a certain point, but basically means there’s no point in friends who aren’t power users.

Anti-social behaviour:

The annoying aspect is that there isn’t a warning system, or an explanation. When you attempt to log in you get:

‘An unknown fatal exception has occurred

Whoa! Something blew up. If you think you reached this error in error please do not hesitate to contact support.’

So you contact support – and get back an anonymous message informing you your account has been removed – with no explanation of the reasons.

Your IP has been permanently blocked. Unblocking your domain would not be in line with the best interests of the larger Digg community, we will not reverse this decision.

For more information, please see http://digg.com/faq and http://digg.com/tos’

And presumably guess from any number of reasons why the block could be in place! Especially as Digg Terms of Service state:

Digg may remove any Content and Digg accounts at any time for any reason (including, but not limited to, upon receipt of claims or allegations from third parties or authorities relating to such Content), or for no reason at all‘ (emphasis mine).

Now, if we’d all been using different IP addresses, we would never have been banned – for doing exactly the same thing.

Or if we’d paid $1200 to get a top Digger to game the system professionally. Or spent our time stalking, courting and flirting with the top Digg users – who effectively control the front page.

Digg punishes users – not cheats:

Essentially Digg punished us for being a little naive, and gave us no response or way to use the system in the proper way – meaning a large group of people will never see any value from the site.

And Digging as an individual is a similarly frustrating experience. Unless you dedicated every hour to either befriending the Top Diggers or using fake accounts to game the system, you’re never going to get anywhere near the front page and get to experience the ‘Digg Effect’.ย  And the only other option is to organise and orchestrate your friends list.

Of course, when you do befriend popular Digg users – or those aspiring to it – you’re comitting yourself to hours of mutual reciprocation of shouts and Diggs.

And if it’s not a popular topic, it drives negligible amounts of traffic – certainly in comparison to other tools like Stumbleupon, which seems to drive more consistent traffic, and shows a lower bounce rate. (SU is also more popular in the UK, which is nice).

In conclusion:

I’m the first to admit we may have screwed up somehow, despite having individual accounts, with seperate friends lists, and everyone contributing by submitting content from other sites, Digging other stories etc. But noone using Digg is doing it without wishing to self-promote theirselves or their website – and nowhere in the Terms of Service or the Digg mechanism does it make it easy to let someone know personally if their Shouts are coming across as Spam, or if they’ve submitted a single domain too often.

Nowhere on Digg does it state that you can’t use the same IP address which routes your entire office to the internet (Why not run the check on registration and warn people?).

And nowhere does it counter the fact that a very small group of users control the traffic tap on the front page of the site – and without courting them, you’ll get little for your efforts. It encourages you to submit your own content, and build up a friends list – and yet will remove you without any recourse – quoting the banal ‘it’s for everyone’s good’, except not telling you why.

Maybe we should just have one main account, run by everyone wanting to use it, and thereby avoiding the idea of multiple accounts and spending time using the site?

Why Digg may struggle more:

So Digg has some reasonable-sized issues, hasn’t radically changed in years, and bans office blocks full of staff without explanation or feedback via IP addresses. Bearing in mind that Yahoo has the traffic, Twitter and Facebook show the new recommendation engines, and anyone can plug in a rating system these days for a site far more dedicated to a niche interest (e.g. Sphinn) – you have to wonder what Digg’s longterm strategy is…

And the rules don’t apply to Digg’s boss, Kevin Rose!

Tamar Weinberg has done some great posts highlighting the times Mr Rose has seemingly escaped the Digg Banhammer team despite breaking his own rules. Or see someone who submitted 1800 times, and made 4 mistakes get perma-banned.

At a time when the social media marketing echo chamber will wax lyrical about how traditional old companies fail on interaction and customer service – why haven’t we focused on the Web 1.0 Elephant in our midst?

I’m really interested in hearing some other opinions – are social news aggregators doomed? Is Digg’s 20 million uniques proof I’m talking rubbish? Or have you seen a decline in your Digging?

Edit: In my attempt to avoid turning this into a mini-website of it’s own, I didn’t cover the likes of Socialmedian, Twine, or even Mahalo. I’ll try to put together a comprehensive look at the options for information input later this week. You can always subscribe to my RSS feed to make sure you don’t miss it!

Comments

  1. @Dunkndisorderly My theory on why Digg is an epic fail: http://tinyurl.com/6ags7u

  2. @Dunkndisorderly My theory on why Digg is an epic fail: http://tinyurl.com/6ags7u

  3. retweet from @badgergravling Why digg is an epic Fail http://tinyurl.com/6ags7u

  4. retweet from @badgergravling Why digg is an epic Fail http://tinyurl.com/6ags7u

  5. @Dunkndisorderly Cheers. Wonder if anyone will Digg it?…lol: http://tinyurl.com/6ags7u

  6. @Dunkndisorderly Cheers. Wonder if anyone will Digg it?…lol: http://tinyurl.com/6ags7u

  7. @dan360man You might like/Digg this: http://tinyurl.com/6ags7u

  8. @dan360man You might like/Digg this: http://tinyurl.com/6ags7u

  9. @msaleem Funnily enough, I just wrote about Digg’s social ‘ignorance’ as you put it: http://tinyurl.com/6ags7u

  10. @msaleem Funnily enough, I just wrote about Digg’s social ‘ignorance’ as you put it: http://tinyurl.com/6ags7u

  11. I think you’re on to something there. I’m thinking the same thing. My blog, which is in my URL is now banned from Digg for the very same reasons that you talk about Dan.

    I’m increasingly finding it difficult to get on with Digg and am looking more to Stumble, Facebook and Twitter as my main source of Social Marketing. They seem far more accessible, not as niche or have such a close knit group of people who’s rules, don’t seem to apply.

    Stumble Upon is very much my favourite, allowing you to build up friends, find interesting stories and publicise your content without being banned straightaway.

    Nice piece Dan – as I’ve commented – do I get your 5,000 tweet? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  12. I think you’re on to something there. I’m thinking the same thing. My blog, which is in my URL is now banned from Digg for the very same reasons that you talk about Dan.

    I’m increasingly finding it difficult to get on with Digg and am looking more to Stumble, Facebook and Twitter as my main source of Social Marketing. They seem far more accessible, not as niche or have such a close knit group of people who’s rules, don’t seem to apply.

    Stumble Upon is very much my favourite, allowing you to build up friends, find interesting stories and publicise your content without being banned straightaway.

    Nice piece Dan – as I’ve commented – do I get your 5,000 tweet? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  13. I’ve had my site banned from digg for absolutely no reason. Maybe too many user submissions, I’m not sure; however, I did find a way around it. Digg only banned one URL, not all iterations so if your site gets banned and you own .com, .net, or .org you can just apache forward those addresses to the right page and still have your content on digg

  14. I’ve had my site banned from digg for absolutely no reason. Maybe too many user submissions, I’m not sure; however, I did find a way around it. Digg only banned one URL, not all iterations so if your site gets banned and you own .com, .net, or .org you can just apache forward those addresses to the right page and still have your content on digg

  15. Cheers for the comments… In this case, it isn’t the url’s of the websites we run which has been blocked – that would be far, far more serious as it would affect any of our users submitting content.

    It’s only the IP address of the user accounts which has been blocked, which stops any employees of our company based in certain offices from logging in – which is frustrating to say the least, as we’d like our employees to be able to use and understand how to use websites like Digg correctly, rather than spamming or gaming them – ironically the reason just given to me for the block is account creation fraud, yet our accounts were registered at various times over at least a 2 year period – it may be that because I’ve been encouraging people to take a look at Digg, the sudden action of 8 accounts all being used around the same time lit up a flag somewhere…

    The biggest irony is that Digg won’t go into details at the moment due to ‘user privacy’, yet anything from the company IP address isn’t private anyway as it’s on the company firewall, company computers etc!

  16. Cheers for the comments… In this case, it isn’t the url’s of the websites we run which has been blocked – that would be far, far more serious as it would affect any of our users submitting content.

    It’s only the IP address of the user accounts which has been blocked, which stops any employees of our company based in certain offices from logging in – which is frustrating to say the least, as we’d like our employees to be able to use and understand how to use websites like Digg correctly, rather than spamming or gaming them – ironically the reason just given to me for the block is account creation fraud, yet our accounts were registered at various times over at least a 2 year period – it may be that because I’ve been encouraging people to take a look at Digg, the sudden action of 8 accounts all being used around the same time lit up a flag somewhere…

    The biggest irony is that Digg won’t go into details at the moment due to ‘user privacy’, yet anything from the company IP address isn’t private anyway as it’s on the company firewall, company computers etc!

  17. Nice article, brought up a lot of issue I did not thing about when I wrote mine. Digg really has become more of a lifestyle phenomenon than anything else.

    a href=”http://www.briancuban.com/confessions-of-a-banned-digger/”>Confessions Of A Banned Digger

  18. Nice article, brought up a lot of issue I did not thing about when I wrote mine. Digg really has become more of a lifestyle phenomenon than anything else.

    a href=”http://www.briancuban.com/confessions-of-a-banned-digger/”>Confessions Of A Banned Digger

  19. Digg gives me nothing but the occassional backlink. I think I had about 20 click throughs from DIGG in total. Most social networking sites are more work than they are worth.

    Stumble upon however rocks.

  20. Digg gives me nothing but the occassional backlink. I think I had about 20 click throughs from DIGG in total. Most social networking sites are more work than they are worth.

    Stumble upon however rocks.

  21. Several people are mentioning Digg and StumbleUpon in the same breath; you’re not bookmarking the same pages to both, are you?

    What I do, as the sites are intended, is you stumble index pages and digg deep pages. So, this page RIGHT HERE is worthy of a digg, not a stumble.

  22. Several people are mentioning Digg and StumbleUpon in the same breath; you’re not bookmarking the same pages to both, are you?

    What I do, as the sites are intended, is you stumble index pages and digg deep pages. So, this page RIGHT HERE is worthy of a digg, not a stumble.

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Trackbacks

  1. […] an update to my last post on Digg, the good news is my colleagues and I are now unbanned from Digg, following several emails.ย  […]

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  3. […] title for a genre of sites, but it works! I’ve posted before on my other blog about why I’m not a huge fan of Digg, (and alternatives to it) but it’s silly to deny the fact it’s a hugely popular site […]

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