Wired News recently did an experiment with Digg to prove a point, and it’s drawing quite a bit of attention. Annalee Newitz of Wired News set up a pointless blog filled with pictures of crowds of people. She says the intent was to be as random and boring as possible with no originality and no analysis. After the blog was all set, she submitted it to Digg.
From there, she preceded to go to a Digg-gaming service called User/Submitter to purchase votes for her article, hoping they would help her launch her pointless blog to the front page. There was a $20 fee for signing up, and $1 for each of the Diggs. Prior to her experiment, she interviewed Digg CEO Jay Adelson to discuss such groups:
“CEO Jay Adelson told me before I conducted this experiment that all the groups trying to manipulate Digg “have failed,” and that Digg “can tell when there are paid users.” Adelson added, “When we identify a (Digg user) who is part of a scam, we don’t remove their account so they don’t realize they’ve been identified. Then we let them continue voting, but their votes may count a lot less. Then the scam doesn’t work.”
Long story short, 10 hours after she paid for Diggs, she had 40 of them and ended up making it to the front page. Despite the fact that her blog was pointless and really had no relevance, people voted on it because others were – everybody was following the crowd. Eventually it did get buried, but the point was that Digg said they had this gaming problem figured out, but after that experiment, have they?
And just to add another twist to the whole story, Wired News as Tech Crunch reports, is owned by CondÃ© Nast who owns Reddit which would be considered Digg’s competitor. While I get the point that Annalee was trying to make, it was a really cheap shot at a competitor.
Does Digg have things that they need to work on and improve on? Absolutely! Clearly they haven’t found a fool-proof way to deal with gaming among many other issues. Michael Arrington over at TechCrunch goes as far as saying that Digg should sue Wired.
I don’t think creating negative news about a competitor is right, but I do think Digg needs to take a serious look at what they’re doing, and make several needed improvements.