Sunday, November 05, 2006

The madness of crowds: why the time for Digg is up

As Michael Arrington at Techcunch says,
the social news site Digg continues to grow, claiming 20 million visitors per month and an increasing amount of mainstream attention. But as traffic to Digg has grown, the incentive to "game" the site to get stories to the home page has also increased.

I think the time for Digg is up.

Much has been said about the emerging model of social news, where power has shifted from the editors to the users/readers. Some talk about Democratization of news but that is pure nonsense. News is not democratic, dictatorial or anything else. News is news, period.

Digg was special in the sense that it added one likable thing to the user-powered news model - ratings. It played to the gallery and won users in millions. But democratic it is not. In a true democracy, a voter (read rater) does not disclose who he/she has voted for. That does not help the case for independent decision making. Digg, on the other hand is reportedly dominated by a cabal of 'top' users who see to it that only their stories go to the vaunted front page. The front of Digg and rest of most-dugg stories are mostly techie stuff. Now, as Kevin Rose has set out to control their power, the top users threaten to leave Digg. This is like hijacking the democracy and soon users might be going away to other pastures.

IMHO Digg has done its bit - it made participatory journalism, even if it played only to the hard-core techie, hip. Ratings - that will be the only thing Digg will be known for in the Internet Hall of Fame. I am not sure Digg is even worth $200 million that someone conjured up. Users do not stay long enough as they do on Flickr or which Yahoo snapped for pittance.

Digg and the rest of social news Gang will soon be part of major online media properties who can add value in terms of longer site views supplemented by detailed stories and articles. The news sites need to learn from Digg and much else about social news. They have to learn how to best utilize users. For example, in law-related stories, they have to make sure it does not become a trial by the crowd. Whatever the media versions, 2.0 and so on, truth shall always prevail.

Reddit is already a part of Wired.

Next up: Digg, property of the NYT?


At 12:33 PM , Blogger Daniel said...

"Digg, on the other hand is reportedly dominated by a cabal of 'top' users who see to it that only their stories go to the vaunted front page."

I think you'll find that these 'top' users are those who are contributing the most articles and voting on the most articles and, generally, just being the most active users. There's no cabal, AFAI have understood.


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