What is Digg Planning?

Image representing Digg as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

Digg has done a lot of interesting things over the years, but recently they did something that confuses me. First, they banned Zaibatsu, possibly the third most active user of Digg. A few days later they announced new funding for what they call international expansion. About one week after that announcement, they banned many of their most active users with minimal information on why. According to the user named Cosmicdebris, this is part of the explanation:

your Digg.com account has been permanently banned due to egregious violations of the Digg.com TOU related to script usage.

I find this flurry of activity a little too coincidental. If these users were using scripts to enable them to Digg better, then they have been using them for a long time. David Chen has a very good overview of what Digg has been doing. More importantly, he highlights what the problem might be:

At one point, Digg’s top 100 users were responsible for over 50% of Digg’s front page stories. This was Digg’s fundamental problem, although it didn’t have to be: It was an attribute shared by many other Web 2.0 companies. Only a small fraction of the total number of users contributed substantially to the site. According to recent Quantcast statistics, 1% of the Digg’s users are contributing 32% of the site’s visits.

So, if you eliminate many of the users that are part of this 1%, different people will be able to get stories to the front page. The question is why, and why now?

Localized Digg?

If Digg is saying that they received funding for international expansion, then maybe they are looking at having various localized Diggs. By localized, I am not only talking about Digg in your language, I am talking about having DiggIndia and DiggRussia. These new “sub-diggs” could provide information from local sites in the appropriate language.

This type of specialization allows them to expand without creating new functionality. This also allows more people to get involved. If you have country specific Diggs, then you can have users with stories on a localized front page that could never have a story reach the front page in the current situation. This is a very good idea if it is what they have planned because it opens up a large segment of traffic they were missing before.

Cleaning House?

The only problem I have with the events of the past month is the obvious house cleaning. As I said above, they banned many of their most active users for using scripts. Again, if script usage was the issue, they could have done this a long time ago. It is their site, so they can do whatever they want, but it is dishonest to say script usage was the problem. So, why now? Obviously, they have something big planned. Clearing out the users means they want to open up the front page.

There are only a few reasons to do this. One is that they are expecting a large number of new users and want to make the site more inviting. The only real explanation for expecting a large number of new users is Facebook integration. Opening up to Facebook gives them millions of potential new users. The other possible reason is a purchase. Could some company finally be willing to buy Digg? Removing the top users could make the site more attractive to a buyer, but the bad PR they receive may be a little upsetting to a potential suitor as well. I can not imagine who would buy them right now and Google has been one of the few companies mentioned recently. Is there anyone else that could be interested?

So, the question remains, why ban users now and why not be honest about it? Based on the timing of activities the past month, I am guessing we will find out the answer this week.

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15 thoughts on “What is Digg Planning?

  1. In all honesty, I couldn’t care less about Digg. However, their moves seem really suspicious. You are right, ‘why now?’. The top 1% have had 99% of the frontpage articles for the past year.


  2. impNERD,

    I do not use Digg, but given that I am “active” in social media the events become interesting. Given that, you have to start asking questions.


  3. No matter if the scripts were used once or many times since the start of Digg. If they’ve voilated the TOU, it is doubtful they did so by mistake. Eff em. Most of Digg sucks anyway and hopefully this is part of their campaign to bring it up a notch.


  4. shokk

    Not saying I disagree with the bannings, just that the timing of the bannings is odd. If Digg wants to enforce their TOU, that is up to them.


  5. The problem is not that they are banning these users, and not really even the timing (although that makes clear they have some big plans in store to do it all at once, and now)… the two problems are fairness and transparency.

    If it is indeed script usage (which I am against, but I was likely the only person using digg 100% manually), then ban the other users who are using scripts, or had been using scripts until zaibatsu was banned. I know for a fact there are still many remaining that have used scripts for a long time…

    If (or, “since”) it is also to clear out the top users, then why discriminate? There are still people getting paid to digg, and I know they’re not banned yet. Spammers promoting one or two sites, people working for individual companies… ban them, too!

    They could’ve done this in a much more soothing, calm, quiet way. Limiting the number of items you can digg per day was great. Maybe limit how many frontpages you can get per day? Limit submissions?

    Either way, they carried out this cleansing activity in a manner that was not fully effective and upset a community that has gained a lot of power and influence.

    I only have one question – Kevin, do you guys want an open or closed casket for digg?


  6. Hi

    I am working on a site which try to solve many of the problems with digg.com.
    You can find it on http://crowdnews.eu.

    The main problem with digg is the voting system.
    When only top voted stories get on the front page it has
    to be a subject that many can relate to,
    which result in stories with a low information content.

    Crowdnews solves this by using sharing instead of voting.
    Every have a personal news page on which they can subscribe to other users and when those users share stories they will appear on the personal news page.

    Join me on CrowdNews


  7. Ari,

    Yes, the bannings and such have not been executed very well. Digg has been struggling with its own success for a while. However, it is far too early to assume Digg is dead.


  8. My powerful PR3 alexander13 account was banned about 3 weeks after Zaibatsu and the digg support team gave me that same bs excuse about TOS violation and script usage.

    My script required manual digging of friends submitted stories. NO automation was used.

    Like you I agree they can do what they want with their site but the timing was something I questioned since I’d been active for over a year.


  9. Sani, if scripts were being used and it is against the TOU, then you can eliminate the users. The timing is the thing in question.

    Calinazaret, I do not use Digg, but my understanding is that there are greasemonkey scripts and 3rd party apps that allow diggers to quickly digg and share posts to their friends as well as seeing who has dugg the post already so you do not “re-share” with them.


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