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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.

My Interview with Richard Stallman

In Datamation

Interview with PJ on Groklaw and Beyond

GROKLAW’S founder, Pamela Jones (better known as “PJ”), has done an interview with me in Datamation. In the interview she explains her ambitions and drive in following the SCO case for several years. She also expands onto other areas and shed some light on the future direction of Groklaw. From the interview: “Obviously, patent cases are now stage front and center. But we also have an arrangement now where any lawyer can contact me and ask technical questions of our members.”

The Impact of Trolls

IN recent days, attacks on my character have returned and they are reaching a peak. I mentioned this before on various occasions in this blog, but it is worth repeating. Some of the stuff that you find on the Web with my name attached to it is fake. You cannot assume anything which has my name as the poster (even with a valid E-mail address and homepage URL) is really from myself. Forgeries have gone quite far, even as far as Digg. Check out these fake accounts/images for example:

These are only a few examples among more from Digg and there are similar cases of forgery in several other places.

I digitally sign all my outgoing E-mail messages, but I don’t/cannot do this when posting in Web sites other than my own. Moreover, in USENET, it leads to unnecessary clutter. Digital signatures cannot be verified by people who are not IT-savvy, either. Most people are foreign to the very notion.

I don’t know if people are targeting me specifically and I prefer to think it is not the case. Bear in mind, however, that I insisted that those who attack me cannot be paid (or ‘compensated’ by companies that dislike my postings), but my friends are certain that they are, which has me frustrated. Maybe I’m being naive, but the attackers use open proxies (zombies) for anonymity, which speaks volumes.

Some of the abusive posters have done this for many years and death threats were made too. At the moment, others defend me so sometimes I don’t have to, with the exception of many cases where people pretend to be me and post to many forums lies such as “I cut off my [put whatever you like here]“. They also use e libel to try and portray me as a criminal. Some said I should contact Homeland Security.

The trolling has reached my own sites, but I use IP block lists to stop this. One of the abusers has been trying (compulsively) to enter the site almost every day for about a month (since s/he was blocked for flooding blog posts with very libelous things). In other sites, my comments get attacked, ranked poorly en masse (as a matter of principle for who I am, not the content being posted) with attacks on character in particular.

I know people who never let go their identity on the Web. They did the right thing by staying invisible. Anything you say or write can be used against you. I’ve had someone harass an artist to pressure me to take down an image and then there were hundreds of messages accusing me of being a ‘pirate’. They’ll use anything they can (and make stuff up!) to use against me. They repeat and repeat (Big Lie propaganda technique). Those who know me can ignore, but I don’t know outsiders might think. It’s frustrating, but it won’t stop me.

I was told that would be worthwhile to write about this in public, maybe just for future reference. I know someone who decided never to write or comment on another site, which cannot be controlled. I’m not ready to do this yet.

Why the Gates Foundation is Not a Charity, But a Loophole

Bill Gates
Bill Gates arrested in his younger days (photo in public domain)

It is frustrating to find that some people still think that the Gates Foundation is all about altruism and good will. I’ve appended some references to support my observations below.

Mr. Gates has identified two cycles that are loopholes:

  1. The money cycle: avoid paying the money to authorities though taxation. Open a ‘charity’, dump your fortune there, give some to poor people and essentially pay poor people instead of governments that lack money to pay the poor anyway. With such money-laundering cartel, no wonder Warren has jumped on board too. Seen or read the “Perfect Crime”? How about a case Robber Barons?
  2. The brainwash cycle: use a charitable organisation to spend money on media, which gets people to believe Gates is a Saint. Then, people pay money for Microsoft products without any guilt or regret involved. This money can then be used to prolong the cycle of abuse and the Foundation is positioned in the middle of this. The Foundation is a medium that ensures money flows in thanks for brainwash and then ensures the brainwash lives on. Microsoft continues with its crimes while a fat-cat media turns a blind eye and praises Gates.

There are more cycles involved. Pyramid schemes are a funny thing. The sad thing is people’s ignorance. To Microsoft, most people are as stupid as Microsoft needs them to be, journalists are as greedy as Microsoft needs them to be, and politicians are as corrupt as Microsoft needs them to be.

Here are the promised references:

Dark cloud over good works of Gates Found

Gates Foundation Revokes Pledge to Review Portfolio

Gates sold 100,000 Univision shares-SEC filing [media company held by the Gates Foundation]

Bill Gates [Foundation] lends cash to buy newspapers ($350 million to MediaNews)

Here is a message of interest

My background is finance and accounting….

However, the Gates Buffet foundation grant is nothing more than a shell game in which control of assets for both Gates and Buffet remain the same.

THE ONLY DIFFERENCE IS THAT THE ACCUMULATION OF WEALTH BY THESE TWO WILL BE MUCH MORE MASSIVE BECAUSE THEY WILL NO LONGER HAVE TO PAY ANY TAXES.

Related blog item: The End of Corruption Assisted by Media Control

Monopolies Government Will Not Have You Aware of

Money on keyboard

I have just come across a fascinating little gem which is another example of sheer monopoly abuse that goes uninterrupted.

Joel Klein does not have a well-developed sense of irony. As Clinton Administration antitrust czar, he became a household name with his relentless pursuit of Microsoft, a $40 billion company with 70,000 employees in 100 countries. Today Klein heads the New York City public school system, a conglomeration of 1,450 schools with 136,000 employees, 1.1 million students, and a $15 billion operating budget. Oh, did I mention that it’s a monopoly? Not a private company with a large market share, but an actual monopoly, an organization protected from competition by an exclusive government franchise.

This is terrible, if true. That’s the sort of high-level corruption that goes behind many people’s backs. And while people are encouraged to follow the sports news and celebrities on televisions, such government fraud goes unnoticed and a few individuals rake in billions of dollars.

Open Source Journalism — Cheaper and Better

I have just got a short new article over at newassignment.net. Dave’s improvements, made gradually as we corresponded, are muchly appreciated (as always!) . It is pleasant to work with a good editor, but I would still like to present the original text below.

REPEATEDLY we speak about the merits of an Open Source paradigm, which puts control in the hands of more people. This can either be a case of handing over control from the vendor to the customer or — more aptly in this context — from the author/journalist to the reader/critic.

At the end of last week, results from a highly-anticipated study on software were finally published. The study was backed by European Commission and it was authority- and vendor-independent. The results indicated that Europe would get significant competitive advantage owing to the economical superiority of Open Source software. This study, which involved rigorous trials and long-term observations, shows that there is a great economic incentive to use Open Source software in a company.

Let us use this as a lesson while we study how Open source practices can move beyond software onto things such as design or authoring, journalism included. Open Source journalism is beginning to prove its economic viability. It offers greater flexibility, which is obtained for low costs. Journalism in an Open, collaborative and unmoderated context is argued to raise maintainability costs, but experience suggests that a voluntarily effort of a group not only reduces production pace and costs, but it also improves quality.

The Daily NewsThere is still great resistance among the traditional world, which attempts to disrupt this emerging trend, by discrediting its practicality. Facts on the ground suggest otherwise. Only by studying alternative paradigms to the handling of information and associated tasks can one truly appreciate its value and establish confidence in it. And such is the case of Open Source intellect, whether its expressed in code or in natural language.

The study shows that costs are brought down with Open Source software. It also reports on quality going up, either because people involved in the project are more affordable (lower licensing expenses translate to an open door and increased staffing). In the same vein, it is easy to assume that costs will go down in Open Source journalism — journalism based on volunteers. Big media’s big response is about quality and quality is most easily attained by involving large groups, basing factual information on many opinions, formed by a greater pool of knowledge. Wisdom of the crowds not only raises accuracy, but it also benefits from a crowd, whose reward is involvement with real impact; the compensation for the efforts needn’t be monetary.

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