46% of the Digg Front Page is Controlled by 50 Websites

Recent changes and restrictions made by Digg.com to encourage diversity in the range of users whose submissions reach the front page have had 2 profound results. Newer and less active users have seen their stories reach the front page, but the sources that are able to hit the front page have tightened.

Despite tens of thousands of submissions every week, the last seven days have shown that 46.6% of the Digg front page comes from 50 websites, according to data accumulated on di66.net.


The algorithm that Digg.com uses to determine which user-submitted content reaches the front page is in a constant state of flux. With millions of users and over 10,000 submissions per day, the site has been a target for spammers and casual social media enthusiasts who want their content to hit and reap the benefits of tens of thousands of visitors in a short period of time.

To combat the “algorithm gamers” and “power-users” on the site, Digg has launched several measures to discourage the practice of blind digging where users digg hundreds of stories quickly in hopes that others will reciprocate.  The most recent restriction allows users to Digg approximately 200 stories in a 24 hour period before getting a “Whoa Cowboy” message.  Once the limit is reached, they cannot Digg again until they go below the 24 hour threshold.

Digg: Diversify or Die

While the site has succeeded in putting new users on the front page, most of them are getting there by submitting from “whitelisted” sites. In many ways, Digg has become the personal RSS feed for sites like TorrentFreak, xkcd, and Cracked as the vast majority of submissions from these and other sites will hit the front page regardless of the submitter.  Major news sites such as Telegraph, NYTimes, and Time receive millions of visits from Digg every month.

Digg grew as a source for cutting edge, hard to find pieces of content, but over the years has shifted to the safety of “going with what works”. New sites are finding stronger exposure from social media websites like Reddit, StumbleUpon, and even Twitter where the strength of the content is a more important factor than the strength of the domain name.

It isn’t completely Digg’s fault. They have been the focal point of attempts to “game the system” for a long time and have tried to implement countermeasures against it.  When a site gets pushed too hard through shouts, IMs, and other methods of inflating Digg counts, the spam portion of the algorithm recognizes it and prevents these sites from hitting.  Some sites get banned, but most are simply filtered out by not allowing these sites to get recommended in the upcoming section. These submissions can get 200, even 300 Diggs and never hit the front page.

While this form of “autobury” is a necessary component to prevent spam, it also makes it exceptionally difficult for websites to hit the front page more than once or twice if they are not already accepted as whitelisted by the algorithm. Great content that receives tremendous approval on other social media sites doesn’t have a chance on Digg if the domain cannot make it passed these filters.

There are ways that Digg can encourage great content from a more diverse range of websites without compromising quality by allowing spam to hit. Are they willing to pursue these ways?

Do they want to diversify the front page?

If so, are they willing to ask for help?

When less than 1% of the sites submitted control 46% of the front page, diversity is dead.

* * *

JD Rucker is a social media strategist and blogger in Orange County, CA. He operates this Social Media Blog and is on Digg and Twitter, Reddit, and StumbleUpon.

JD Rucker

+JD Rucker is Editor at Soshable, a Social Media Marketing Blog. He is a Christian, a husband, a father, and founder of Dealer Authority. He drinks a lot of coffee, usually in the form of a 5-shot espresso over ice. Find him on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

78 thoughts on “46% of the Digg Front Page is Controlled by 50 Websites

  1. Ugh… I hate Digg.. this is why I quit using them well over a year or more ago.

    Sad thing is Kevin is still has an over inflated ego as well as most of the people that still use the site.

    Digg is dead… unfortunately Twitter will be next on the list to die

  2. i don’t think i’ve ever seen the “front page”. i have a bookmark to an upcoming category and that’s all i ever see. i see the sites before they die.

  3. I’ve run into this problem for my site. I write articles about beer, wine and homebrewing, but until recently I’ve never reached anywhere close to the front page.

    I decided to do more research to see what kind of beer related articles were doing well on Digg. It was depressing to say the least. Only one article was a news worthy real article, and the rest were worthless. I listed them here: http://www.fermentarium.com/content/view/285/55/

    What this list said to me was don’t bother trying to attract Digg users. They are either not interested in real articles, or the system is so gamed real articles do not stand a chance.

  4. So true! I wish this post will make to Digg Front Page, but guess what? It’ might not just because somebody else controls the algorithm or was not good paid to Kevin.





    You can email me here too for more info: nyactorm11@gmail.com


  6. We all know that Digg has quite the crop of whitelisted sites that appear on the front page more often than the average site submitted to digg. It’s make me sad because I remember when Digg was a place where niche content that’s truly interesting would do well on digg without any questions. Now it seems that if the content isn’t coming from a bigger, mainstream source, than it has very little chance at making it at all. What a shame it is that where the content comes from has so much to do with how certain content does on digg.

  7. Being a tech journalist myself from one of the most reputed blogs in India, I have tried and tested digg too. Its just that there is this concept which is rightly pointed out in this article as ‘you digg mine, I digg yours’ attitude, it actually robs good writers of the enthusiasm to place their articles on digg.

    Ethically speaking, Digg is building up its base on something which is for the diggers, by the diggers and of the diggers. There can not be any diversification because people are not really ready to appreciated good articles there but make a group and digg each other. Whereas, dZone, on the other hand has been quite sensible in voting only the ones who deserve to be.

    We all know about uSocial (http://blog.taragana.com/index.php/archive/how-to-buy-digg-votes-increase-traffic-make-money-and-pay-usocial/) I guess.

    A pretty timely article. I echo all of it.

  8. I think digg suffers a lot from being gamed… I’m going off it in a big way (as well) because it’s filled with idiots, like the guy above who said:

    “99 percent of the content, stories and buries are controlled by radical left wingers. DIGG as well as MIXX are basically Marxist platforms IMHO”

  9. It is sad because Digg became the exact opposite of what it was suppose to be. What made Digg so great was the fact that you could find content on Digg that you had never seen anywhere else. When only a handful of sites control all the content, then Digg loses it’s usefulness. Like it was pointed out in the article, it’s just a fancy looking RSS feed for these sites.

    IMO, Compromising the entire integrity of the site is not a good way to combat people who want to game the system. I’m actually surprised more people aren’t upset by the path Digg has taken. It’s not about people being upset that they can’t game Digg. It’s about what Digg is suppose to be – a news site where the people decide the news… oh, as long as that new source is cracked, cnn, telegraph… How is that anything worth using anymore?

  10. Digg dnt feel the need to change the algo and strategy because they dnt have any near by competitor. Once we will have anything close to Digg we will see some big difference here


  11. @Injury Lawyer Los Angeles: If Digg is controlled by left-wing conspirators, how come Britain’s two most popular right-wing newspapers are #1 and #9 in this list?

  12. I see this sort of thing getting rigged the whole time. I recently saw someone on Twitter asking for his story to be Sphunn. I checked on Sphinn and it had been Sphunn about two times.
    Then unsurprisingly, about two hours later when I checked again, it was up at the top of the homepage as most Sphunn story.
    I suspect only about 2 people actually read the post – most do it because they want to be mates with the guy and can maybe do business with him one day.
    Digg and all of these submission sites work in the same way. I scratch you back, and you scratch mine.

  13. I think Digg has been supplanted by Twitter for people who are looking to aggregate original content, not from major news sources or topics about Mac, iPhone, Linux, etc…

    Twitter is how I found this article…

  14. We’ve had about 10 stories over the last year get 200+ diggs and have only made it to the FP once. It is extraordinarily frustrating for our writers to do such great work yet not be able to reap the rewards of their efforts. :(

  15. Digg has kinda gone the way of Technorati, the big corporate sites have taken over and there is just to much chaos for anyone else to get any attention.

  16. My name is Jason Wilk. I am the editor @ tinycomb.com. A relatively not well known tech blog. I wrote a story a couple weeks back regarding Apple and Facebook that I submitted with a brand new username. It was a pretty good story and got to the homepage. So, I still have belief.

  17. i’m overwhelmed with the comments posted.. in this way i am intrigued. well i guess digg the center of attraction here. Thanks for sharing this post.

  18. You know the irony here is that Digg is no longer a democratic news site. It is an editorially controlled front page just as much as the NY Times is. The difference is that the NYT employs human editors with professional training to directly (and transparently to some degree) alter and control the FP. Digg employs engineers with no editorial training to indirectly alter and control the FP via a complicated algorithm.

    They need to break down and realize that 100% control by the masses is wrong. The proper way is a balance between community and professional control. If you’re going to crowdsource, do it the right way. Give power and influence on the basis of knowledge.

    Digg needs to employ editors to promote content that wouldn’t otherwise get noticed, but deserves to. Make it transparent.

  19. It’s called The Long Tail: the top always has as much as everything else combined. The question is, how do you enter the tail (99% of the other sites that make the front page), not the head (the top 1% of sites)?

    Also, there is the number of posts submitted from a site and their relative quality.

    How many front-page worthy posts does a regular blogger create per day/week? How about Telegraph or Yahoo News (or Cracked)?

  20. Digg is worthless. Why do people even still comment about this site? It’s less relevant than twitter which is 100% irrelevant courtesy of facebook updates. Errr who actually uses these dumb sites? Other dumb SEOs?

  21. Have you heard of http://www.Synnd.com ? It has an organized system where people work together to create buzz. It will help people get more Diggs on their articles.

  22. I like Digg but not for the reason many people use Digg for. I use Digg to get ideas for article ‘headlines’…

    Just read some of the most popular articles that get the thumbs up on Digg and you’ll get a wealth of ideas for blog posts and article titles.

    It is a shame that the ‘gamers’ of Digg have pretty much spoilt the site and how it was intended to be used.

    Thanks for sharing,


  23. I’ve had great sucess with redditt and fark but havnt played the DIGG game yet. I assume you need to really get other friends to DIGG it to grow well. Other sites people can rank it without being memembers. I guess you hvae to make friends, etc to even remotely move up the charts. Does Digg frown upon you when you submit your own blog stories – doesnt the majority of people do that?

  24. i saw another interesting site. You are able to challenge other links. to see who has a finnier link. then users vote on it.. and winner gets points and points let you get extra cool features on the website.. well amongs other fun things


  25. This is a lot better than what I’ve been seeing elsewhere lately. If we had more like it around, I think we’d be better off.

  26. Sounds like Digg might need something other than an algorithm…. like maybe a human looking over whats being submitted.


  27. Yes these individual sites like digg, reddit, yahoo buzz and others can be somewhat easily manipulated but a site that aggregates these news sites can give you a better overall pic of whats going on online and in the real world. try popurls, techmeme, alltop, your personal feed reader, even google news etc…

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  37. Digg is one website that I just can’t get behind. I’ve never found the stories to be unique or overly interesting. Its the same stuff clogging up my Facebook feed every morning.

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