We’ve been planning on this story for a while but it’s been challenging finding a piece of content that fit the criteria. It needed to be very close to being equally popular on both Digg and Reddit, plus we needed the site owner to be willing to share their analytics data with us. Thanks to our friends at Techi, we found a case study story.

Let’s take a look:

The Numbers

As you can see, they had the same title and both were submitted to the Politics section. The number of Reddit points was a little higher than the number of Diggs, but comments weren’t even close – over 3X as many on Reddit than Digg.

The Circumstances

On Reddit, the story never made it passed #3 on the Politics subreddit. It appeared on the Reddit homepage for those who had Politics selected (it’s one of the default categories) and for about 3 hours for unauthenticated visitors.

On Digg, it was the top story of the day for 5 hours and was on the Top News in All Topics sidebar for nearly 21 hours. It was also the top story in politics, of course.

The Results

As you can see, Reddit sent nearly 50% more traffic even though it was not one of the top 10 stories of the day. Direct traffic is a combination of the two plus other sources (Google Analytics does not attribute all traffic from either Google or Reddit properly), but even if you add all of it to the Digg tally it still isn’t enough.

Facebook shares soared once the story was on the Digg front page and had another bump once it hit the sidebar. While there is an intrinsic value beyond traffic for getting Facebook shares, the traffic itself was lukewarm at best.

Time on site is close enough to be a wash for this relatively long article (perhaps Reddit users read faster?).

The Conclusions

While there is and likely always will be a strong value and certain sense of pride for getting to the Digg homepage, it’s not what it used to be. Before, a story like this would have received 3000+ Diggs, 300+ comments, and upwards around 100,000 visitors. Reddit has been kicking into high gear over the last year, getting noticed by more people (as can be seen by their 290% increase in traffic year over year).

Digg is at a crossroads – while they are putting into motion changes and implementing new features based upon user feedback, their time may still be short. To achieve the spot of reverence they once had and to have any chance at all of growing, they must act immediately. Websites, even tech blogs, have stopped paying attention to them. If they wait too long (which it appears they are doing) before generating some buzz, they may not make it beyond 2012.

Reddit, on the other hand, has really only one thing to fear – success. While their moderators and strict spam algorithm keep the site relatively free of junk, it’s in the users that the real quality-filtering occurs. As they grow, more spammers will notice. They have been able to keep them at bay up until this point, but success and mainstream adoption will make it more challenging.

Both sites have the ability to make 2011 great – Reddit can continue to grow and Digg can turn things around. Will they?

Leave a Reply


  1. 3+ minute sessions from people coming from Digg? Reddit too? Impressive. That’s something I haven’t seen before.

  2. We have been working with Digg, Reddit and Stumbleupon and consistently stumble has sent far more traffic then Digg and Reddit. Might be an idea for the next case study.

  3. JD Rucker

    @Ted – That’s not normal. This was a longer piece on a controversial subject. It’s normally much, much lower.

    @Jordan – There’s no doubt that Stumble is the winner long term. It can send huge bursts, but the real gold with Stumble is the steady stream of hundreds or thousands a day for a long time. It can also, however, but much less reliable. A Digg or Reddit front page will definitely send traffic, but a Stumble push may or may not. Still, I love Stumble (the biggest traffic driver to this site, btw).

  4. I think reddit has another thing to fear … manipulation by public relations hacks. Reddit allows upvotes and downvotes. Those organized with an agenda can not only manipulate stories upward that jive with their agenda but also downvote those that do not. A few years ago, you saw little of this on reddit. It was a haven for athelists, progressives, computer programers, Libertarian, and those in sympathy with the pirate party. As more users flock to reddit (including those who come with an agenda to manipulate reddit posts), then nature of the community is changing. The more the reddit community becomes like digg, the more vulnerable it become to its own success as the old time reddit users look for someplace new to hang out.

  5. Lou Franklin

    Wow, Reddit must be ENORMOUSLY profitable, if they’ve overtaken Digg with 1/10th the staff.

  6. Facehammer

    Reddit is the KING of “manipulation by public relations hacks”.

    Also, Reddit had more comments, but a lot of the comments on Reddit were shallow infighting, like “your reading comprehension is stunningly bad” and a troll who goes around posting “cancer” for some reason.

    The Digg comments, on the other hand, were more thoughtful, like “The Republicans should (hopefully) block any legislation from happening. This is where it is important to remain vigilant in protecting civil rights”.

    Even when the quantity is higher on Reddit, the quality is always better on Digg.

  7. Impressive details for me..Especially 3+ minute sessions from people coming from Digg.This will be very beneficial detail for website owners..
    Thanks for this case study..

  8. Mike Vandyke

    @JD Rucker I had to check when the date this article was written… Digg now is a non-player., how are you even comparing it to Reddit? I remember getting hundreds of Diggs on a good comment if it was in the top 3. Now the most I see is around 50.

    They fucked up the site so bad everyone left, and no one is really returning. All the new users are a bunch of asshats and leave the dumbest trolly comments. I remember visiting Digg for all the insightful opinions and answers the Digg community made. I tried to do my share of knowledge sharing as well, especially with the lure of getting Dugg up and making friends. Now the whole comment system is a joke and no longer fun. Fuck Digg, they really screwed up. Same as MySpace.

  9. Well i like digg and reddit both. Both are useful when you have huge list of followers for gaining traffic but they are also good for gaining knowledge.

  10. Qwan Boe

    Digg used to be the first website I’d visit at the start of the day… Now, that honor belongs to Reddit. Getting dugg on comments felt like a mini-accomplishment back when Digg was the shit. I don’t even like Reddit that much but it beats the hell outta Digg. What is Digg without its users?… You wanna know what sucks the most? If Digg would have kept v3, this article wouldn’t exist! Reddit is now Facebook and Digg is now Myspace… make that XANGA

  11. Reddit is statistically a bigger platform than Digg in terms of traffic but the later one still holds ground. After this stiff competition I’m sure the creative heads as well as the management will brainstorm in bringing Digg back to life. A very informative and impressive case study nonetheless. Good job!

  12. Well, i must say i still love Digg. Reddit maybe now in action but their pathetic design always make me arrogant. On the other hand, the actual player is now StumbleUpon, you will get a steady, targeted and regular traffic from StumbleUpon. Remember one Target Visitor is better than 10 non -targeted visitors. However i still prefer Digg to use.

  13. ahqn

    reddit vs gsick would be a more relevant question

  14. ElectricPrism

    Just came from the front page of digg – the first three posts had 0 Comments, 0 Comments, 3 Comments…etc

    On reddit: 275 Comments, 641, 293, 86, 477, 483… 1263.

    RIP Digg, why’d you have to sell out to NBC & the big companies, reddit stores from small sites pwn digg’s corporate trash.

  15. Great informative post and i really likes your information, most of the peoples are likes your blog because its having the good knowledge. thanks for your good informative post.

  16. Ebin

    Hard to believe you chose to compare digg with reddit, there is no comparison anymore.

    Reddit front page just now: http://i.imgur.com/4EEpA.png

    Digg front page just now: http://i.imgur.com/Q48k7.png

  17. Ebin

    Sorry to double post, but here is a great example of how the reddit community isn’t just a bunch of witty trolls looking for karma: http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/md64p/a_big_thank_you_to_reddit_re_zero_tolerance_in/

    there is a link to the original post in askreddit at the bottom. Great story

  18. This is a fantastic presentation, I would like to read more about this interesting topic, i think that this post is very good. Thanks a lot for such valuable information.

  19. I think, Reddit is over doing the spam filter. Even when I try to submit a true link, 9 out of 10 time it ask me to wait for some time or good luck next time thing. It is just frustrating and I will never go for Reddit.
    On other hand Digg is really a spam bay.

  20. StumbleUpon is much better than the both.