Typical Digg comment thread.
Last week the new Digg version 4 has been released and I have tested it ever since. Back in the days I was a staunch opponent of Digg and an avid supporter of competing services like StumbleUpon and Mixx. That was years ago though. Both Mixx and SU have stagnated over time. So I decided to take a look at the new Digg. Maybe it has been fixed now?
Most business people have been either expelled from the first wave of social sites like StumbleUpon, Digg and Mixx or moved on of their own accord to more mature sites like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn that don’t discriminate against business users and are not full of NSFW images.
Digg has deteriorated over the years to become a cesspool full of sexism and a battle ground for teenage boy’s flame wars.
It’s not as bad as competitor Reddit which ended up being the place for hate-mongers and rants though.
With version four Kevin Rose, known for his misguided antipathy against the SEO industry, tries to save what’s left of an originally good idea: social news. Can he beat Twitter and Facebook and most importantly his own community that has made Digg the hellhole it was until now?
Digg seems to aim at both Twitter and StumbleUpon. It’s very similar to both services. You have to follow users or publications and see their activity.
Similar to Twitter main stream “blogs” like TechCrunch or Mashable have an overwhelming advantage this way. They have already tens of thousands of followers who vote anything up they see. Understandably many people don’t like this feature as some major publishers can dominate the frontpage this way.
On the other hand the follow feature revives “old” and not yet popular stories on Digg. Until now only front page stories could get substantial traffic from Digg. Most of these visitors were terribly untargeted though and left in an instant so that you got a huge server load while not getting much in return. Unless of course you got links. Thus Digg has been used by many for link building for years.
Once a story has hit the fp it could garner a substantial number of links. This is still true to some extent but with Facebook and Twitter getting more popular you don’t get as many links these days anymore.
I got notified about someone following me. That’s why I joined the new Digg in the first place. Sadly most follwoers do not see your submissions it seems. Everything you do gets shown to them so that submissions get overlooked when you digg other people’s submissions and comment.
The most dreaded and for some people entertaining (in a freak show kind of way) part of Digg was the comment section. As Digg adds no other value beyond the selection of stories and commenting many people read those. Unfortunately especially women and business people were appalled but the blatant sexism, aggressive NSFW battleground that comment section was. In V4 of Digg the site attempts to clean up the comment section.
The most approved of comments get displayed on top if you select the right option in the preferences. Some flame comments by trolls are below the display threshold and can only be seen on click. You can hide comments below a certain number of votes. I strongly approve of this measure. Can you use Digg again during work hours and even without watching Fight Club first? Not really.
A comment that disagreed with my opinion started with “F**k you!” and got at least 14 votes so that no threshold could have stopped it. My comment containing no swear words has been of course buried. My sin? I expressed my sadness about homeless people protesting for cheap meals in the US while at the same time their government can afford wars and military bases throughout the world. Being from Germany I express often unpopular views for Americans so that most probably I still will be verbally attacked and abused on the new Digg it seems.
The feature that was perhaps the other most devastating one for Digg was the so called “bury button”. Using it a self proclaimed Digg police blocked whole topics, e.g. SEO. So basically you weren’t allowed to talk about SEO. The only SEO related posts that were acceptable on Digg were SEO bashing postings. This perpetuated the ignorance on the Digg platform to the point where everything posted on an SEO publication has been boycotted.
At the same spammers have been using Digg to submit their SEO adverts all the time. The bury button led to the effective exclusion of high quality SEO resources while low quality SEO and downright spam about SEO services has been prevalent on Digg. Just search Digg for SEO and you’ll find solely crap submissions, mostly not even in English.
Digg V4 has no bury button anymore. This way resources about SEO theoretically can get popular on Digg again as there is no direct censorship anymore. I doubt though there are enough people interested in the subject. I’m optimistic though that search marketing publications can get exposure on Digg for general technology and Internet postings. Search Engine Land is already on Digg.
The removal of the bury button is an overdue measure to restore democratic voting patterns on Digg. Until now a small minority of maybe a few dozens people have effectively blocked SEO related resources.
The new Digg has a report button instead. I reported myself for instance when a story accidentally got submitted twice by the system. I also reported a submission consisting of dozens of stolen images. We’ll see whether the Digg staff will act on these.
Will I stay on the new Digg?
I don’t know yet. I’m probably not masochistic enough to let people shout at me for expressing my opinions which are quiet common sense (like anti-war) in Europe. Maybe I’ll use Digg as a combination of both Twitter and Facebook. I’ll follow my favorite users and publications and ignore the frontpage and comments altogether. Instead I will “like” their submissions by “digging” them. On the other hand I’m not convinced I need another site to follow them.
People in the SEO industry still push their infographics, lists or other linkbaits on Digg, I guess 1/3 of Digg’s content are linkbaits while the rest are mainstream blogs or publications plus funny or “awesome” images. As I don’t like most of these and SEO publications have no audience there I don’t think it makes business sense for me.
In case you’re into linkbaits, just take some almost naked female celebrity pics or something “Apple”, put it on your blog and the Digg audience will still love it. Digg even says in its meta keyword tag that it’s about “celebrity news” among others.