Update: Digg confirmed that it is an experimental feature they’ve been “playing around with for weeks” that is not available yet to the public.
A new button appeared tonight when I visited MyNews on Digg. “Trending” is now the default sorting option for some users who visit their personalized Digg page.
It isn’t available to everyone as of now. With no official word from Digg, everything here is speculation but I’ll update regularly as more information becomes available.
This isn’t the first time that Digg has experimented with the concept of “trending”. In November, 2009, Digg launched a homepage variation that would highlight “trending” topics from time to time for 10 minutes, giving them exposure to the greater Digg community and 10 minute opportunity to be promoted or buried. The feature disappeared when Digg launched V4.
Last month, Digg rolled out trending in upcoming. They announced it on their Facebook page with a single-sentence explanation (not that it needed much more).
“We just released a “Trending” filter for the Upcoming section! It looks at your Diggs vs. buries to show the most interesting content.”
The MyNews Trending feature will likely (hopefully) be more profound. Initially, this default homepage for authenticated visitors was designed as a centerpiece to V4. Only stories submitted or Dugg by those that a user follows appeared here in chronological order. It became clear very quickly that it wasn’t very useful for 3 reasons:
- Those who followed a lot of accounts would get bombarded by stories. Often when one would get to the second page it was loaded with stories they saw on the first page that had already been pushed down.
- Those who followed few accounts would sometimes get very little content presented to them. If none of the accounts they followed had Dugg recently, their MyNews page was stale.
- The most followed accounts, celebrities and mainstream news sites, were either inactive or too active. Their followers either got nothing or an RSS feed.
MyNews Trending will probably incorporate an algorithm that takes into account several factors to try to present users with a more relevant page. Rather than simple chronological or “must dugg” stories, it will look at a combination of the two and potentially other popularity factors (part of Digg’s “secret sauce”) to show stories the user is most likely to have an interest.
Currently, Dugg stories are still included in MyNews, but I would expect them to be removed some time in the future (as nobody wants to see stories they’ve already read unless they want to use the “Save” option).
Digg has rolled out dozens of changes since early on in the rocky launch of V4. This one, if my speculations are correct, could mark a dramatic improvement in the way the site interacts with its users. If done right, this can also bring more attention from the large publisher accounts that Digg has coveted, gained, and subsequently lost over the months.