Digg is from Mars, Reddit is from Uranus

(In other news, Front Page Addiction: Destroying Families, Ruining Lives

Digg RedditThere 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.

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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.

Top Stories

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.

Leave a Reply


  1. LB

    Let’s not forget that while Digg may have lot of traffic but it useless for most part when it comes to monetizing it. Getting dugg is more of a strain on your server budget than anything else.

  2. @LB – You are very, very correct. No monetization. It’s okay, though, when you have a site like this that is more of a passion than an income. I won’t make the money to cover my hosting this month, but hey, that wasn’t the purpose. I’ve come to grips with that, reluctantly.

  3. NewSc2

    Congrats, you made the front page of Digg.

    I don’t really agree with your point system, as most of the things you subjectively “scored” are from the view of a submitter, not a visitor.

    Personally I like reddit’s layout a lot more than Digg’s, but Digg’s front pages see a lot more turnover than reddit’s top 25 or 50, and the “Top Links” sidebar is useful too.

    The threaded commenting system in reddit is also easier to follow and have discussion.

    There’s also a difference in content on both sites, so I see both as complementing each other, and not mini-warring vs. each other.

  4. @NewSc2 – Thank you for the compliment.

    The point system was definitely flawed, as is any when a subjective topic is graded by such a miniscule portion (3 people) of the population.

    Regarding layout, again, very subjective. Depends on personality.

    * * *

    “The threaded commenting system in reddit is also easier to follow and have discussion.”

    ABSOLUTELY. It’s Digg’s biggest flaw and Reddit’s second strongest advantage.

    * * *

    Regarding the mini-war, there are lots of stories and discussions bashing Digg on Reddit. That fact actually prompted this article. I love both sites. My friend/contributor prefers Reddit. Still, in one man’s opinion, Reddit has more issues than Digg (which is one of the reasons that Propeller is catching up in traffic and may be #2 within 3 months).

    Thank you for the thoughtful comment!

  5. hpymondays

    Digg is simply the better site, mainly because of its more advanced algorithms. On Reddit, it doesn’t seem they have even incorporated group pattern voting recognition, which makes it easy for spammers and profession submitters (from Eastern Europe?) to bring stories to the top page.

    The self reference (dear Reddit) and the sensational headlines also make Reddit look amateurish compared to Digg.

  6. john

    great article! you should have set it up to check who reffered the user to the site and modify your title accordingly:p

  7. anonymus

    ““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.””

    This was on the Digg frontpage the other day too.

  8. Scott

    Interesting comparison, but you should have just skipped ‘assigning points’ They are at best subject, at worst inaccurate. It is also very limited. It really only covers some of the mechanical aspects, many important things are left out.

    As far as inaccurate goes your section “Ease of Submission” awards (mostly) to digg. Why? Reread your first two paragraphs. Reddit is clearly easier to submit, there is no comparison.

    I understand your thinking though, with Digg you will get more complete accurate stories, etc. However that is seperate from “Ease of Submission”. Reddit is clearly easier, Digg is clearly better categorized (in theory). Two separate points there.

    Also, your opening bit : “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”

    Is dramatically over-stated. Digg vs. Reddit isn’t even in the same boat as those those other wars on sheer scale alone, let alone importance. Perspective is important, don’t escalate something minor to an over dramatic state of being.

  9. Ben

    The major advantage of reddit over digg is the story commenting. Digg, being the larger and more diverse site, attracts many commenters who I suspect also frequently comment Youtube. Neither Digg nor Reddit has gotten down the elitist, not-all-comments-deserve-to-be-read-and-some-points-of-view-are-just-stupid system of Slashdot, which is unfortunate.

    Granted many Digg users are intelligent and good, and many Redditors are stupid gits, but the way the numbers currently work out the Signal-vs-Noise is better on Reddit.

    I suppose I just get pissed off at how nearly every programming discussion on Digg devolves into a bunch of people demonstrating that they can do Hello World in Java.

  10. wow you got some harsh comments here…

    ive used both, and digg just gives me better articles, for whatever reason that might be

  11. Fry

    Digg does seem to have better articles. Reddit is a lot easier/quicker to submit to tho, provided your not submitting too quickly.

  12. Interesting comparison. I haven’t used any of them too much. Digg appears more evolved, indeed. I spent far less time on reddit.

  13. Of course the title has worked!
    It surely would make one stop and stare(browse, read and vote) though there’s miles to go before one sleeps…

  14. idov

    For Jews Reddit from Earth circa 1943.

  15. while i generally prefer going to digg, i’d rather submit on reddit. there’s less “elitism” there than in digg.

  16. Ally Kendall

    Digg is a tool for control over the masses, while Reddit is a platform for democracy. Reddit is very politically skewed to the left by its demographic, but at least it is an honest reflection of its demographic, and not a castrated neoconservativized revision like Digg.

  17. Great article! Thanks for the mention. For the record, you are correct, I do not have a reddit account, however I do visit the site and enjoy its content. Both sites have their strengths and I appreciate what makes each different. I love the razor-sharp wit of my fellow diggers, but redditers are also a quirky, fun crowd, too.

  18. MurphyLaw

    Reddit gives articles an honest chance. If you don’t think Digg auto-buries articles from some sites because they get paid, you don’t know anyone who worked there.

    Digg is also easier to manipulate. You can have 20 votes on a Reddit article and it will still get little traffic if it is shite, but anything on the front page of Digg will generate a lot. That’s why so many sites have their marketing departments (yes, physorg.com, we mean you) working it to pump up votes. The top 5 at Digg are legit, but 35 of the top 50 are not.

  19. I’m from Pluto.

  20. We get more traffic from Reddit than Digg.
    Traffic is consistent and users seem to be more mature.

  21. An interesting aside… this was a topic of discussion for both websites. This site front paged on both Digg and Reddit at the same time, as users were able to vote on which was their favorite. Reddit came out on top!

    Who would kick ass : Digg or Reddit?

  22. Nice article, I think both sites have their advantages and I like using them both!

  23. personally i use the service ://URLFAN and their Buzz Radar which to me is more transparent in regards to whats going on the blogosphere


    urlfan crunches all the data from over a couple million rss feeds and tracks what’s moving in the blogosphere. there’s no human intervention so it’s able to float top stories faster than the standard vote up/down digg and reddit use. according to alexa, urlfan is about to overtake reddit in terms of reach and rank so they must be doing something right.

  24. Juice Newton

    at Reddit one need not worry about getting banned for saying off-color remarks or speaking ones mind, no matter how extreme or offensive your views may be. the worst that will happen is youll get downvoted. i can live with that price versus the “no free speech zone” currently known as Digg. I’m an ex-Digger and a happy current Reddit member.

  25. Hvm

    I’ve tried digg, reddit and stumbleupon, then I discovered Gsick, I’m not coming back!

  26. j1ggy

    Outdated story. Reddit’s userbase has far outpaced Digg’s.