Over the past year or so — ever since it became one of the red-hot social networking sites, and co-founder Kevin Rose one of the new poster boys for Web 2.0, thanks in part to BusinesssWeek’s recent cover story — Digg.com has been critcized for being “rigged,” in the sense that a small group of Diggers (Rose included) seem to have a disproportionately large effect on what gets voted to the front page of the site, and what doesn’t (more discussion here and here).
One of the latest pieces to bring this up is here, and a follow-up post about how the original post suspiciously (apparently) disappeared from Digg is here. I’m not sure whether it’s worth noting that the blog in question is hosted at infogami, which merged with Reddit, a competitor of Digg’s. Paul Graham, the angel investor who funded both, has also criticized Digg in the past.
These kinds of reports have had an air of believability about them, although it’s difficult to tell whether Digg was being deliberately rigged or “gamed” and whether some of it was just the nature of the beast (as discussed here). As Rose explained in one somewhat exasperated post, he Diggs stories his friends submit sometimes — big deal (I’m paraphrasing). In any case, some of the repeated criticism must have struck a chord, because the Digg founder explained today that the site is instituting some changes to try and prevent the kind of clique effect or gaming that has been alleged.
In a nutshell, the Digg algorithm is going to lower the “juice” given to stories that appear to be Dugg by a small group, and top Diggers will also be sorted by how diverse the things they have dugg happen to be. I think that’s a great idea — it will be interesting to see what kind of effect it has on Digg’s results.
At least one top Digger isn’t pleased with the rejigging: P9 is leaving. Jason Calacanis of the re-Diggified Netscape agrees with him, not surprisingly, and says the top Diggers should be rewarded (presumably with cash) rather than hamstrung by such manoeuvres. Mike Arrington says that Diggs that come from the top stories page should count for more than Diggs that come direct, which is an interesting idea.
Jay Adelson of Digg has also responded to the controversy in comments on some of the stories that have been submitted to Digg about the whole issue, in which he said:
The mistake we made was not being clearer that we were not associating the algorithm change with the top submitters. These guys are hard working, honest contributors to digg and are being unfairly scapegoated. Please stop with the targeted burying… Digg what you like, bury what you don’t. We’ll take care of the abusers.