For Digg, Helping Big Sites Was “Just Business”
If you’re a publisher who doesn’t hate the New Digg, chances are you’re already getting enough traffic to where a Digg front page is barely a blip on your radar. You’re being rewarded for being huge. Digg needs you more than you need Digg.
Sadly, that’s where Digg has gone.
The fact that Digg has been mostly a failure from a business perspective over the last 5 years prompted the dramatic and (almost) universally hated version 4. The idea was to put the power that Digg wields (for now) into the hands of the big publishers. If you generate tremendous traffic, you’re Digg’s new best friend and will have the best opportunity to be rewarded with more traffic.
It’s just business. It’s nothing personal. Digg was born based upon Kevin Rose’s desire to “give the power to the people.” Unfortunately for Digg, “the people” were AdBlock+ using cynics who scoff at attempts by websites to make money. It’s not an insult to the Digg community. It’s simply the truth.
Firefox and AdBlock+ are used on Digg more than most sites. Statistics show that over 50% of the Digg community is using Firefox and likely AdBlock+, a revenue-killer that has hurt tech sites for the last couple of years.
Believe it or not, it makes sense for Digg to appeal to major publishers. Digg has been the sender of traffic for years. Why not be the recipient? That was the premise.
The problem (which will hopefully be fixed this week) is that Digg users generally do not like their content to be auto-submitted. The idea of human curation is the premise upon which Digg was built. Things become popular because the right submitter found the content and the community liked it.
That isn’t the case with the new Digg.
The decision to appeal to the big publishers, to allow them to have publisher accounts and auto-submit their RSS feeds directly to Digg is, in itself, not a bad idea. Digg wants and needs that traffic and that mainstream adoption if it wants to survive in the competitive world of “getting social media attention.”
It was simply a business decision.
Unfortunately, it simply wasn’t handled well. Not only are certain accounts given huge advantages under the new rules, but it’s also likely that Digg is either blocking or greatly impairing individual non-publisher accounts from being able to hit the front page.
How We Know
There have been 3 non-publisher account stories that have hit the Top News section in the last few days. Three. One of them does not seem to be a true publisher account, but because they are submitting Engadget and getting dugg by that account, they have been able to get 4 front page stories.
More importantly, we asked.
After an exchange of rude tweets (on both ends, with the rudest of them all subsequently deleted by Rose) between me and Kevin Rose, we “made up” and he added me as a friend, posting this:
Ready to give Digg some feedback, I sent one DM:
A short while later I went back to Twitter to see the response. There was none. He had also removed me as a friend.
I thought it was a simple enough question. I wasn’t being rude. I didn’t necessarily expect the “secret sauce” to be DMd to me, but I also didn’t expect to be removed hours after being told that he “would love” my feedback.
Sour grapes aside, the reality of the situation is that Digg needed a change badly. They needed to appeal to mainstream media and get mass-adoption similar to what Twitter and Facebook have received. They needed to become something that even the tech-unsavvy crowd could embrace.
Twitter reached its tipping point in early 2009 thanks to adoption by major media and celebrities. Digg wanted the same thing and took the same approach (almost identically). It won’t work, however, because of 2 or 3 simple things and a couple of major issues.
The path to getting mainstream adoption, increased revenues, and an exponentially growing user base is something that I would LOVE to show Digg. I’ve been on the site daily for 3 years and have a history of advising web properties on the best way to maximize their traffic and profits.
Of course, I haven’t met the criteria that Rose requires from someone to accept their advice.
Rose deleted the tweet after a couple of hours, but thankfully Patrick Smith retweeted it to keep it “on record”.
Despite the jab, I would still be willing to consult. All he has to do is ask.
But of course, he won’t.