(In other news, Front Page Addiction: Destroying Families, Ruining Lives)
There are many mini-wars being fought on the Internet. Facebook vs. MySpace. Google vs. Yahoo. Apple vs. Microsoft.
One of the most polarized mini-wars going on is Reddit vs. Digg. While the two differ so greatly in look, feel, style, and membership, they are generally going after the same crowd – those who want to read and share in media on the Internet. There are others out there – Propeller (formerly Netscape), Newsvine, newcomer Mixx – but in the end, Digg is the top dog and Reddit is #2.
Those who are dedicated to either Digg or Reddit sometimes find it hard to crossover between the two. If you look at the top members for both, you will not find any duplicates. MrBabyMan, Digg’s top guy, does not have a Reddit account (unless Andrew is using a different name, which is unlikely). QGYH2, Reddit’s top guy, does have an account on Digg that has had some success, but not to the extent to be considered a “top digger”. Down the lists, this trend continues. Top Diggers are not Top Redditers. Period.
In any polarized war there are differences. Here is a breakdown of the differences and an analysis of their impact on each website.
Ease of Submission
With Digg, submitting a story requires plugging in the URL and selecting whether it is news, photo, or video. The URL is then checked for duplication and images are pulled for thumbnail selection (if it’s news). Once the URL is verified as fresh, the submitter must put in the title, description, choice of thumbnails, a choice of 50 categories, and a captcha.
For Reddit, you put in the URL and title and push submit. You can select one of eight categories, though this isn’t required. There is a captcha needed for new accounts, but once the account has matured, the captcha disappears.
Those who prefer the ability to submit dozens of stories in a short amount of time or who need no description, thumbnail, or a multitude of categories to filter through may like Reddit better. Anyone who likes their social media to be as comprehensive as possible, both when submitting and when browsing the pages, will prefer Digg. Point (for most), Digg.
Fairness on the Frontpage – Submitters
Reddit’s biggest advantage over Digg is that someone who is new to Reddit can get a story on the front page easily if their content is good. Someone brand new to Digg might scoop an image of Elvis and Jimmy Hoffa sipping beers together on a secluded island, but it probably won’t make the front page.
Digg’s latest algorithm change makes it easier for new Diggers to make the front page, but the top diggers still rule it. Following the trends, 25%-30% of the stories that go popular on Digg are submitted by around 20 people (Source – do the math. Use this very cool Digg tool, then click on “Users”. This will list the top submitters over the last 500 FP stories. At the time of this story, 131, or 26.2%, of them were submitted by 17 people. When I checked yesterday, it was 29.4%.).
My 2-week-old account with Reddit has had 2 hit the front page. Point, Reddit.
Fairness on the Frontpage – Submissions
At any given moment, the Reddit frontpage will have a lot of good stories on it. It will also have stories like the ones below, pulled from the frontpage at the time of this story:
- Dear Reddit: Thank you! The grandma boobs finally drove me to install AdBlock Plus, and it is great! (leads to a reddit page)
- No mention on reddit: The Sun rose around the globe today (leads to a page that shows sunrise and sunset times around the world)
- “That’s your s***, n*****,” the cop said. “We’re going to teach n****** to respect police officers. This is Giuliani time, not Dinkins time.” (Yes, that’s the title. The article is over 10 years old and the quote used as the title was later recanted by the victim.)
In Digg’s Upcoming Stories sections, there is a “Hot in…” box that shows stories that are working their way towards hitting the front page. Diggers often explore these lists, checking Hot in different categories, subcategories, or in all categories at once. Stories like the ones above, especially the last one, would have been buried and would never have made the front page. Point, Digg.
The Digg algorithm is extremely complex. It is rumored to take into account many factors, including variety of Diggs, average Diggs for stories from the submitter, source, number of FP submissions from the submitter and the source, comments, buries, and probably a dozen other factors that few know about.
The Reddit algorithm is more of a formula. If it gets up-modded, it moves up. If it gets down-modded, it moves down. Over time, it moves down naturally. There are presumably other factors, but those are the major ones.
Depending on your point of view, both algorithms have their advantages and disadvantages. Based on the difficulty in getting a spammy or inaccurate story to the front page, we prefer Digg’s. Point, Digg.
Visitors to Front Page Stories
There is a “Digg Effect”. When a server is shut down because of the mass of traffic that goes to a website, it has experienced it. While there are, we’re sure, websites that Reddit has shut down, for the most part, its ability to drive traffic to a website, to bring to light quality stories, photos, and videos, is quite limited compared to Digg. The traffic is good, but not mammoth. Point, Digg.
Reddit’s way of rewarding exceptional stories is to keep them up at the top. If a story is hot and continues to be hot, it will stay. On Digg, the front page is kept in chronological order. As new stories go popular, older ones are pushed down and onto deeper pages. This would be a point for Reddit, except there is one major plus for Digg: the Top in All Categories section on the front page.
In it, stories of exceptional value are rewarded by being given “superstar” status for a certain length of time. These Top Stories stay on the frontpage and are highlighted as the best of Digg for that particular moment. If a story makes the front page and gets a lot of Diggs while there, it will be preserved on the front page instead of being pushed to deeper pages. The best of the best, set apart from normal popular stories. Experienced diggers will often look here first when they visit the front page. Point, Digg.
Community – The Social Aspect
We are talking about social media, afterall, and while most do not want either to become a Facebook-style website, having a little bit of interaction with peers is something that should be offered. Digg offers it. Not everyone uses features such as photos, shouts, profiles, and personal websites, but the options are there. On Reddit, you can send a message to friends, but it isn’t a common practice. Most of the “social aspect” is within the comments on stories. While Reddit’s comment system is considered by many to be superior to Digg’s it isn’t enough to overcome the rest of the social gap. Point, Digg.
Becoming a Top User
As mentioned earlier, it is very difficult to get to the top of either of these websites, let alone both. The reason is most likely time. To be on the top list for either requires a tremendous amount of time. Digg requires a good number of submits and a very large number of Diggs on friends and other diggers to get to the top. Friend relationship management is key.
With Reddit, friends are much less important, but the top redditers must submit. A lot. An awful lot. Throughout the day and night, weekdays and weekends, Redditers get to the top through bulk.
No points given for this one. Being a style issue, we’ll call it neutral. Build friends, don’t build friends, submit a little, submit a lot — being at the top of either requires a time investment with no guarantees of success.
* * *
So, why is Digg from Mars? Why is Reddit from Uranus? Simply admitted, it’s a good title that should get a lot of Diggs (and down-mods on Reddit). The one similarity not mentioned is that the title/headline is extemely important to success on either. Once I was done writing this, I searched for the best possible title, and that one came to mind. Hopefully, it will work.