Archive for the 'Digg' Category

Who is Worthy of Digg’s Pixels?

digg Last week, Digg announced it is working on performance initiatives:

“Today, we’re also making some changes to reduce page payloads and minimize HTTP requests with subtle UI changes. By removing the 16px user icon from stories on the home page and other story lists, we’re reducing HTTP requests to Digg for a warm cache load by around 75%.”

I’ve asked a few developers [not associated with Digg] about this new initiative.  Each had much the same response: Seems like a no brainer; surely Digg’s developers can work out a way to speed things up and leave the icons on…

Of course Digg’s developers can work out how to do this.  They’re not stupid.

However, there has been an interesting shift in to whom Digg allocates pixels lately.

Just over a week ago, Digg’s Chief Revenue Officer, Chas Edwards, offers up this gem:

“We’re very excited about [ Digg Ads] at Digg, and not because we’ve found a few extra pixels to sell to advertisers but because Digg Ads is our first step in the direction of helping marketers speak to the Digg community in the local language of Digg.”

Clearly, every pixel matters to a site like Digg, not only in load time, but also aesthetically.  And of course Digg’s future is at stake here; I just wish they’d be more straight forward about it all instead of trying to mask with inane statements.

User Rights and the Social Web

While the recent Digg bans have caused much online controversy, little attention has been given to the larger issue affecting users of social sites, namely user rights.

Last year, Mike Arrington, Robert Scoble, Joseph Smarr and Marc Canter wrote a Bill of Rights for Users of the Social Web. The document asserts that all users of the social Web are entitled to certain fundamental rights when it comes to ownership of their information.

Our question is: what rights do the banned diggers have?

While their submissions and Diggs remain on the site, their profile information is simply wiped out; they vanish, as if they never existed.

Digg argues that by not disclosing the reasons for individual bans – but for breaking the TOU – they are abiding by their privacy policy, and thus protecting the user.  We argue that they’re hiding behind their privacy policy; the banning process should be transparent and open, particularly with users who want their voices heard.

Surely it’s a conflict of interest if the operating company, whose goal is to make money [now or in the future], can be the same body that determines which users can have access to the site and which can not?

Users should be offered a formal appeal process, be it public or private, and be given an opportunity for further recourse through a third party arbitrator if no resolution can be agreed on.

Additionally, while Digg certainly should remove any inappropriate content, any users that have had an account suspended or terminated should still be able to login, and their account should remain functional so that they can review or transfer their content.


Update: Neal Rodriguez put together a five minute video with some excellent points; check out Dear Kevin and Jay

Digg: What works, what doesn’t, and an example

Below is the transcript of my segment on Tech Talk Radio, episode 21/2008

Given we have talked about StumbleUpon, Delicious, and Twitter on Tech Talk Radio over the past couple of months, I thought I’d talk a little about Digg, another social media site, mainly because I’ve been watching people try to use it, fail miserably, and then complain about how sucky it is.

Now, I’m not by any stretch a social media guru, but I do know social media, and I know what works and what doesn’t.  More importantly, I know why it doesn’t work. So, if you’ve been submitting content to social media sites, and it’s just not getting any traction, consider these reasons for the big fat fail.

Number 1 reason for fail: Ignoring the basic premise of a social media site

If you want social media to work for you, you need to be social.  This means that you make an effort to join in and participate in the community consistently; not only when you need something.

In addition to involving yourself in the community, take a look at who the top Diggers, Stumblers, Twitterers are, and take a good look at what they’re doing.  It will give you an idea of stories they think like, submit, and vote on.  Get to know them; trust me, they’re social.

2nd reason for fail: The content is average

Just because you’ve written a new post does not mean it’s worth submitting to a social media site.  Unless you’ve taken the time to put together a great piece, written for a specific social media site audience, don’t submit it.

Submitting everything you write looks spammy.  And, if you look spammy over a period of time, your site may be flagged. This means eventually, anything from your site, regardless of who submitted it, just ends up being buried.

3rd reason for fail: The content does not fit the audience

The Digg audience wants different content to the Sphinn audience, who wants different content to the StumbleUpon audience, who wants something different to the Twitter audience…

If you want social media traffic, you must consider the audience of that specific site, and then create content that they will love. This means research.

4th Reason for fail: Not enough people know about it

To get the traffic, people need to know about your post.  For people to know about it, it is not enough to submit it to a social media site; it needs to hit either the front page, or, the upcoming pages.

For this to happen, you need votes.  The number of votes you’ll need depends on the site you’ve submitted to, but typically, on Digg, at this point (they’ve made some changes to their algorithms recently) you’ll need up to a couple of hundred votes – as well as comments in a 24 – 48 hour time frame to make front page.

Compare that with Delicious, where 100 votes should do the trick.

So, unless you can generate that many votes in that time frame, it may be smarter to ask a more influential user to submit your post for you.  The caveat with this is don’t ask them to submit crap for you! You’ll only end up annoying them. Don’t forget, they’re an influential user for a reason; they don’t submit junk!

By the same token, don’t be afraid of asking someone to submit stuff for you. Again – only if it is good.

Influential users want new and interesting content, and if you can give them some, of course they’re going to take it.  But don’t abuse this.  Don’t ask them to vote on every story; just the one that you’ve busted a gut on.

Additionally, when something of yours does make it into a social media site, don’t be shy with friends; ask them to vote it up – but – ask nicely.  A quick IM/Twit/Shout out saying “hey, check this out, I’d appreciate a vote if you like it” is okay if used carefully and in moderation.  Don’t go spastic though; I get dozens of these requests daily and I’m about sick of it (and I’m not even a power user).

Now, a word of warning: If you do write a targeted piece for a social media site, make sure your server can handle it; it is not uncommon for front page Digg stories to cripple servers; in fact, it’s happened to me.

For those listeners that don’t know, a couple of months ago I targeted Digg as the site that could – if I did it right – help me get enough traffic and links to bring my Technorati ranking back up, which had tanked considerably after I moved my blog to a new URL.

Here’s what I had to think about – and this is before I wrote my first word.

What are Digg users interested in – who is the digg audience?

Well one thing they are interested in is technology; technophobes don’t use Digg. Sure, they may check it out on occasion, but few participate. Additionally, many Digg users write code – either for a living, or as a hobby.  Finally, the majority of Digg users are blokes.

So, I need to write something for developers that are blokes.

The next question of course is what do they need?  Well, they need resources – all shapes and sizes – that will make their life easier in some way – something that will save them time searching.  Additionally, they want quick access, bite sized content; they don’t want to spend an hour reading a 10 page article.

So, I need to compile a list of resources

The next step of course is to compile this list. And this is where many people give up: This list took a good 30 hours to compile.

Finding useful content was easy enough for me.  I love the Web, and am brilliant at hunting things down.

Luckily I have a code nut as a husband and I enlisted his help at the editing process; what to keep and what was lame.

I added sub headings to make it easier on the eye.

I added images to make it more fun.  For the first image, I had to consider what 20 something year old blokes liked.  If you can’t guess what it is, check it out here.

This post has now been Dugg over 2000 times; it has been visited over 200,000 times.  And yep, my Technorati rank shot back up.  BlogWell is now considered one of the top 50K blogs, out of the 112 million that Technorati track.

Finally, I didn’t submit it myself.  I was lucky enough to have one of the more well known Diggers submit it for me.  That however, is another story, and I’ll leave for another time.

Photo credit: Tray