Digg Exposed: The Algorithm vs. The Inside Players

Last Updated Aug 18, 2008 10:32 PM EDT

From the time it launched, there have been things about Digg that I've admired. It harnesses the opinions of the tech-saavy crowd as well as anyone out there, at least in terms of which recent news stories apparently enjoy the largest support among Diggers. Also, Digg's distribution model -- providing a button that quickly became ubiquitous across the web, leveraged the Web 2.0 opportunity perfectly.

But, over time, I became frustrated with Digg. There seemed to be no way to get an original, worthy piece of content to rise in the rankings so that it might make the home page, thereby benefiting by the increased traffic a Digg link could send it. Or, rather, there seemed to be no honest way to accomplish that.

Now, thanks to an enterprising blogger, Simon Owens, we have documentation of how a small group of power users has hijacked Digg to promote the content they support over all other comers. Having heard speculation to this effect for a long time, it was refreshing to see how Owens "dug" up his expose -- the old-fashioned way.

After many phone interviews with power users, he's provided a true service to all the rest of us who may have grumbled about Digg but never did any serious digging of our own. After reading Owens' post, I'll still use Digg, and recommend it to others. I've been a member for a long time and I'll keep being a member.

But I certainly won't try to compete against the core group of fanatics that have Digg's top pages all locked up for their own purposes. Rather, I'll look for other sites that can provide better protection against this type of abuse.

(Note: Thanks to my colleague Erik Sherman, who noticed Owens' post first.)

  • David Weir

    David Weir is a veteran journalist who has worked at Rolling Stone, California, Mother Jones, Business 2.0, SunDance, the Stanford Social Innovation Review, MyWire, 7x7, and the Center for Investigative Reporting, which he cofounded in 1977. He’s also been a content executive at KQED, Wired Digital, Salon.com, and Excite@Home. David has published hundreds of articles and three books,including "Raising Hell: How the Center for Investigative Reporting Gets Its Story," and has been teaching journalism for more than 20 years at U.C. Berkeley, San Francisco State University, and Stanford.