What Failed: The Digg Algorithm or the Digg Users?

Digg Super BowlIt took around 600 Diggs to get the story Super Bowl XLII Champions New York Giants promoted to the front page.  Are the recent changes in the algorithm the reason?  More importantly, is this a case where the algorithm was doing the “right thing” but was overpowered by the sheer bulk of Diggs?

It took 34 minutes for the story to be promoted from upcoming.  During that time, the Ajaxonomy Bury Recorder showed it to have 17 buries (which means it had a lot more than that).  That could be a reason for it taking so many, but let’s explore further.  This is a screenshot of the Upcoming 45 seconds after it hit the front page.

This image, taken by decepticrat, shows the story in question and the other stories on the upcoming Hot News in Sports section 45 seconds after the story hit the front page.  There were several Superbowl related stories listed at the top, yet this one seemed to pick up steam the fastest to emerge as the first Super Bowl story on the front page after the game.

The Digg algorithm takes dozens, perhaps hundreds of factors into account when deciding what to promote and what not to promote.  This story had a a few things against it:

  • Source – While Thomas L. Shaffer (thomaslshaffer.com) may or may not have an excellent blog, it is not a sports-only venue.  The site was down from the Digg Effect when this story was written, but looking at Google’s cache of the site from January 27, 2008, it is clear that the author writes on a variety of topics, including celebrities, pets, and electronics.
  • Submitter – This was the first submission from lebowski76 since September.  The last activity prior was a single video dugg on October 8, 2007.
  • Duplicate – Granted, it was a nearly simultaneous submission, but considering that the other stories submitted within a 5 minute period as the game ended included 5 stories from ESPN, 5 from nfl.com, stories from Sports Illustrated, Foxsports, Yahoo, MSN, and other well known sources, it’s odd that this is the story that took hold.

So what exactly happened?  Is the Digg algorithm at fault for holding a story in upcoming so long, or are Diggers at fault for pushing a story passed the algorithm that possibly shouldn’t have been annointed as Digg’s coverage of the game?  This is not to take away from the story itself — I have no opinion of it because the server is down and a mirror isn’t up yet.

Without looking at each individual who dugg it initially, there is no way to tell if it was spammed to push it up or if the headline took hold and engaged Diggers to choose it over the others.  Initial looks into those who dugg it from the start shows no evidence of spamming, but we haven’t looked to deep.  There’s no need to.  It happened.  The discussion about the game in the comments of the Digg are entertaining.  No harm, no foul.  Still, it makes you wonder when a story takes 600 diggs to hit the front page.  After asking several long-time Diggers, this is almost certainly a record.

On a side note, while researching the story I found a handful of digg submissions that tried to “break” the news by posting before the game was over.  Several pointed to a Patriots’ victory, as they were leading until the last minute of the game.  Nice try, guys!

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  1. I think this is a clear failure of the Digg algorithm. 633 Diggs speaks volumes. The fact that it wasn’t popular yet makes the whole system seem quite flawed.

  2. I wonder how Digg will explain that one.

    Maybe they need to take a few steps back and revert to a VERY SIMPLE algorithm and start again.

  3. JD Rucker

    For those curious, the Ajaxonomy Bury Recorder (lol, mentioned in the article) showed 4 buries. Between 13:00:18 and 13:06:06 — less than 6 minutes — it recorded 12 more, all of them General Buries. WOW – that’s a story unto itself.

    Officially removed from upcoming at 13:17 with 101 Diggs.

  4. I couldn’t understand some parts of this article iled: The Digg Algorithm or the Digg Users? | Soshable | Social Media Blog, but I guess I just need to check some more resources regarding this, because it sounds interesting.

  5. Sweet! I feel like I just dug up gold 😉

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