One of the biggest complaints of Digg has always been in sorting. Even before V4 was rolled out nearly a year ago, it was often difficult to narrow down results and find content based upon certain criteria without having to do a direct search for keywords. Newswire, a new Digg feature still in limited beta, appears to be addressing the issue nicely.
Newswire gives users the ability to look at both what’s trending and what’s most recent and filter the results based upon categories and media type. It’s almost exactly like the Upcoming section except it adds two strong new features: minimum and maximum Digg counts and activity updates without refreshing. Notice in the image above just below the Newswire bar – clicking on that while in Trending reorders the stories based upon the trending algorithm without reloading the page. When sorting by most recent, the bar alerts you when new stories meet the criteria you’ve set.
This can be very useful for those wanting to use Digg for it’s original purpose – content discovery using the wisdom of the crowd. The initial vision of founder Kevin Rose was to offer a place where people could see the news based upon recommendations from like-minded people. The Upcoming section has never truly conquered this in a timely manner. While the Digg front page is a source of stories that have been fully vetted by the community, the road to get there has always been littered with spam.
Let’s say you want to keep up on gaming news. You want things while their hot – not only after they’ve hit the front page or accumulated enough Diggs to hit the Upcoming radar. Set your Newswire settings to Most Recent, Gaming, All Stories. In Upcoming, this would give you a tremendous amount of spam. With Newswire, you can set the criteria to include only stories over 2, 5, 10, or more Diggs and you’ll only see stories that have received at least a little action.
Keep that page open and go about your business. When a new gaming story meets your minimum Digg count, it will show up automatically on the page much the same as Twitter alerts us when there are new Tweets available to see.
The new feature also gives us insight into which stories are getting Diggs in the Newswire as well as how these Diggs are affecting their placement in Trending. As you can see to the right, I Dugg a story and as a result it moved up to 1st trending story. I’m not sure how this data can be used but it’s an interesting and different aspect of the site that has never been as transparent in the past.
We will see when this is officially rolled out and more users start playing around with it what the full benefits will be, but it’s a good sign that effort is being made to improve things. Here’s the official word from Digg presented to Beta users of the feature:
You’ve Entered the Newswire!
The Newswire is here to let you slice, dice and explore the freshest content on Digg. A variety of tools are at your disposal, and you may notice that isn’t all that’s different.
Stories can be sorted by Trending to find content which is becoming popular on Digg or Recent for the absolutely newest content the instant it arrives. Once you’ve selected a sort, you can also filter by Topic, Media, minimum Diggs and maximum Diggs. Mix and match to satisfy each moment’s news discovery craving.
As the tide of stories rise and fall, you’ll be notified that the order of stories have changed (when using the Trending sort), or that newer stories have arrived (when using the Recent sort). On the right, Activity on the Newswire shows the latest actions by you and other Diggers in the Newswire. When you Digg and Bury stories within the Newswire they’ll be shared there to help coordinate curation and discovery.
UPDATE: Please, oh please let this stick. One interesting feature we just noted is that Buries are showing visibly on the Newswire. If this is real, it would be a dream come true for many Digg users who do not like the fact that Diggs are visible, but buries are anonymous. To test it, I selected a story that is definitely spam (I apologize to anyone who goes to Digg to look for Canine Performance Supplements for active dogs) and there it was, clear as day, identifying me as the someone who dumped on dog lovers across the world. If this sticks, it could change the complexion of the site, taking away one of the biggest negatives that has plagued the site for years. We have contacted Digg for a statement.