UPDATE: As predicted, they did not revert. They are going forward with their plan. Two nice “concessions” – a blog post explaining it (I didn’t expect that) and a reverse on older URLs already in use prior to today (good move – don’t change what we’ve already tweeted).
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I hope I’m wrong, but…
Patience. It’s a virtue. It’s also one that is hard to channel when issues concern social media. The “real-time web” is not real when it comes to decisions and changes (or lack of changes) on large websites, especially when something goes wrong on social news websites. Such is the situation with Digg and their recent Diggbar fiasco.
Kevin Rose, founder and CTO at Digg, was apparently not happy with the rollout of the recent change to the Digg URL shortener. It received quite a bit of negative buzz once the story broke, but the fervor of complaints have dwindled to whispers. Rose was just returning from a 2 week trip when the changes were made to push clicks from Twitter and other sources to the Digg story page rather than a framed source as other URL shorteners do.
The tweet you see above was a reference to “catching up” from this trip with the negative buzz as one of the top points of discussion. While many (including me) are hoping that the new code will be pulled, a lack of response at this stage is not a good sign. Here are the possibilities:
- The old version will be implemented soon and a “we listen to our users” post will appear on the Digg blog.
- The current version will stay in place and a properly-worded explanation will appear on the Digg blog.
- The current version will stay in place and nothing further will be said about it.
Our hope is for #1. If more negative buzz comes out, #2 has an outside chance of happening. As Digg has made the decision, plugged in the code, and emerged from the initial storm unscathed (for the most part), chances are strong that #3 was the winner in today’s meeting. They will most likely monitor the situation and assess the traffic numbers. The negative press will blow over and since the vast majority of those using Twitter to Tweet their stories through the shortened Digg URL aren’t even aware of the change, the positives will outweigh the negatives.
Traffic to Digg will increase, though not by as much as they initially hoped. Users “in the know” will revert to using bit.ly and hope that their submissions have a Digg button on them. The majority of users will Tweet away with their shortened Digg URLs, completely unaware that most of their followers are going to the Digg.com story page rather than the source.
As bad of a move as it appears to avid Digg users and tech blogs, the reality of the situation is that this makes good business sense (in the short term). One of the main reasons for dropping shouts and engaging through Twitter and Facebook was to pull from their massive and growing user-base. Since the curiosity factor hasn’t kicked in as expected on these sites, Digg is forced to pull in non-users any way they can. This change was not planned when the shortener service was first initiated, but desperate economic times call for desperate measures.
It was a calculated risk. Leaving the crowded URL shortening market ends 3 potential revenue streams that they haven’t even tried, but it’s not their core product. They have made the decision to focus on improving on-site revenue.
Still, I can’t say that it’s a good business move because they are sacrificing potentially large future revenue streams for a constant bump of non-user visitors and a slight increase in registrations. The click-thru totals on links through social networks are not increasing as quickly as the number of links flooding these sites. Returns are going to diminish and the visitor burst will plateau.
Digg is passing on a handful of future revenue streams that would likely surpass on-site advertising revenues (even with the innovations they are testing currently) because of the way the Internet is evolving. They have the tools, presence, and potential to grow beyond themselves. It seems they just can’t get away from business as usual.
Patience. It’s a virtue.
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Read more about how social media sites can become profitable on Social News Watch.