09 April 2007

Digg doesn't impress me

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for the concept, and the implementation as well. I am not one of those who is predicting the death of Digg as the behemoth that drives traffic throughout the Internet. I think for what it’s worth, Digg is doing a rather good job. But, it’s the people who need to realise and understand what ‘news’ actually is. Short of riddling this post with screenshots of the various Digg front pages at the time of writing this, all I can say is that the stories hitting those pages are not impressive.

I actually find a few articles to read from Google News, but none from Digg. None to hold my attention for more than the description atleast. Digg has repeatedly said that they “love their algorithm”. It is what drives Digg and keeps spam away. I guess they need human intervention now to make things work properly, a la Slashdot.

Quality, ‘and’ quantity

A site like Digg doesn’t have problem coming up with the numbers, and quantity of posts. They have goodness–knows how many hits in a day, out of which I’m sure 20% are new articles being submitted. I wonder how many people actually check the ‘upcoming’ section. I rarely do, relying on other people’s sense of judgement in pushing a story to the first three pages. However, seeing the stories hitting those pages, I’ve started going through the upcoming section as well, just to be sure than it’s not me and Digg is actually losing it.

People will Digg just about anything. The Digg darlings are stories about Apple and Linux. However, anything out of the ordinary will also begin to attract diggs. This results in rather strange stories showing, and hence, pushing out the ones which really deserve some attention. For example, this story, and this oneThis story actually spun me off to this story, so it wasn’t a complete waste! :P and finally this one. What a big waste of time those stories are, I cannot even begin to explain. And yet, they’ve all been front pagers. I’m not ‘not’ impressed for no reason...

Digg started off as a Technology news site. I believe they were the best thing at the time. The whole concept of democratizing the web to allow the people to decide where to drive traffic, was actually amazing. But, Digg deciding to open their doors to various other topics was asking for trouble. Thankfully, the voting system keeps maximum stories off the front page, but even then, the ones that make it surely don’t seem to live up to Digg’s reputation.

Conspiracy theory

In the very recent past, there have been many stories about how Digg’s credibility is more compromised than is immediately apparent, and article defending that. But at the heart of it, we all know how and which way things will turn unless some pro–active measures are taken to fix things. Digg removed their top digger’s list, but brought it back—although rather silently—because the motivation of making it into that list was the reason a lot of people would Digg quality stories. With the list gone, there wasn’t anymore reason to really digg articles. This was all amidst the story of companies paying the users in that list to digg their stories so that they’d make the front page.

Ofcourse, there have been premeditated and intentional steps taken by rival companies to dethrone Digg, which have forced Digg to take decisions and steps which haven’t really worked for their popularity. But at the end of the day, Digg still stands as the one source which drives traffic to news and new happenings around the Internet, even if weird stories don’t impress me. It won’t be easy to take them out of that spot, but just because they’re nice and snuggly, doesn’t mean that the quality of their news will go down.

I again call for human intervensionI’m sure a few out of the 10+ board members can put in jury duty, if the result is Digg again churning top quality stuff. I’m sure it’s worth the effort, because there is nothing like having a human decide what to show others. Any other means will also be welcome. But things surely have to change. It’ll be interesting to see the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ :)