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Monday, August 18th, 2008, 11:33 am

My Take on How Digg Works

An article about the way Digg works has just been published. I gave some input to it, which probably reflects on my view of Digg. Here it goes.

1. Can we start briefly with your background, especially with Digg? How long have you been a user, and when and how did you become an active user? About how many links a day do you submit? How many followers do you have? How often do you get stories to the front page?

I joined Digg back in 2006 when it was still a young Web site that attracted GNU/Linux users. I became an active user about a month after I had signed up and habitually submitted around 5-10 stories per day. I am not sure how many followers I have. Over 2000 people marked me as their friend and some of them regularly vote my stories up (digg them). My performance as a Digger probably peaked in mid-2006 when I made the front page about 3 times a day. These days, I rarely perform quite as well because things changed a lot while I was absent in 2007. The site grew.

2. Can you walk me through step by step of a recent instance where you submitted a link and promoted it to the front page? How did you come across the link, what made you think it was right for the Digg community? And once you submitted the link, how did you promote it? Through IM, shout outs, some other method? In other words, what drove it to the front page?

I read many RSS feeds and I stumble upon stories which I think are important to GNU/Linux users like myself (many of whom happen to follow my submissions by choice, so focus is important). My aim is to share these stories with people. Most of them pertain to adoption of Free software, which I care a lot about personally. I do not promote stories artificially. I let Digg just do its thing. The fact that some people keep track of my submissions out of genuine interest helps a lot, too. I would rarely promote a link because it is dishonest, it is a waste of time, and it is not necessary if the submitted story is an important one.

3. What about stories where you’re not the first to submit it — someone else found it first. How do you usually come across these? Do people send you shout outs? Do they IM you? Do you follow the “upcoming” page or the recommended page? Obviously, your answer might be ‘all of the above,’ but what methods do you use more than others?

I always concede submissions if I find that there is already something similar submitted. I do not communicate in order to coordinate anything. Long-time users are systematic only in their passion for the topic/s that they focus on. I personally disabled shout-outs because I perceive them as comprising lots of noise that’s designed to game the site.

4. What is your opinion of all the stories about “bury brigades,” secret groups of power editors and various other conspiracy theories about why certain stories make it to the front page while others don’t? Do you think the algorithms are sufficient enough so that Digg isn’t easily gamed by marketers?

No, and I would love to see Digg tightening the rules, although I fear it’s virtually impossible. I have come across bury brigades, abuses, stalking, and been a victim of them too. There is also plenty of libel being spread. To me, addressing this issue is equally important. I have left about 14,000 comments in Digg but I hardly comment these days due to rampant abuse that’s slanderous. Policing of behaviour in the site is generally disappointing.

5. If you had to give a person advice for how to consistently get stories to the front page, what would it be?

To be perfectly honest, the democracy in Digg is an illusion at best. Staff ‘elites’ enjoy a status that’s skin to editorial control, whereas some lesser-revered users have few eyes on their submissions, so they receive little attention. This is not to say that’ ‘sensior’ users cheat; however, user status by all means plays a significant role.

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