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The Increasing Irrelevance of Digg.com


By hagrin - Posted on 05 August 2006

I'm not usually one to bash a website that completely dominates anything I have ever done, but I feel the need to vent since I feel as if I have lost one of the better tools I had.

Digg.com, a social community, recently expanded its range of approved topics from strictly a technical site to a fully functional, talk about basically everything site. While the tech part was so highly successful that "digg" is becoming a recognized verb (much as "google" was recognized recentl by Websters), the recent additions of new categories (especially the political section) has increased the noise to signal ratio and the effects have been disasterous.

For those who need bullets, the new categories have caused the following problems:

  • The main RSS feed is now useless - with almost 200 stories making it to the front page every day (according to the rss/index.xml feed), the sheer amount of stories makes reading all that content basically unreadable. There's too much noise and too often, I find myself almost missing high quality content because it is sandwiched around left or right wing political propoganda.
  • Increasing Duplicate Content - I have also noticed a major trend where front page stories are actually hitting other sites well before they hit Digg. One such site, Reddit, I have noticed that most of the better political discussions will later be cross-posted to Digg. While many will reply with "But I don't read Reddit", the problem is I, and many others, do and the duplicates cause another source of noise. Don't think dupes are a problem? Just search most Digg and Slashdot comments - you're bound to see the Dupe Patrol hard at work.
  • Millions of Visitors, but Rarely Thousands of Diggs - Although you can't expect everyone to sign up for a free service and contribute content, the disparity between the number of site visitors versus users who actually contribute to Digg is growing daily. In fact, as offers have popped up from Netscape trying to steal the top Digg contributors, one has to wonder what would happen if you took away the major contributors from Digg and exactly how the community would fill in the gaps. Also, even though stories should promote to the front page based on what the "masses" prefer reading or find valuable, very rarely do stores get over a few thousand Diggs meaning that the actual sample size might be much lower than most think. With the new categories, Digg has seen more users, but the amount of comments and actual user cntribution doesn't seem to grown at the same rate.

So what now for Digg? Honestly, nothing. There is no way they will revert back to the old Digg which focused only on technical content. Techies do not click on ads and venturing into areas outside of tech news on Digg should increase the clicks per page impressions on their ads which should increase their revenue. Digg is building a very fanatical user base, but will they stay so zealous if other, more powerful, more transparent social information sharing sites come along?