Where does community end and “gaming” start?

Digg continues to try and tweak its social-bookmarking service to make it harder to spam and “game” the system. But is it destroying the community at the same time? According to his post at the Digg blog, co-founder Kevin Rose believes that removing the list of top Diggers from the front page will help reduce the incentive for gaming the system — by Digging whatever your friends are Digging, among other things, or paying top Diggers to submit your site.

And yet, as my friend Tony Hung points out at Deep Jive Interests, getting your name on that top Diggers list is a significant incentive for people to submit links in the first place. What happens when that incentive is removed? (Tony thinks the changes are unlikely to cure the gaming problem anyway). Digg has so far resisted the idea of paying top submitters, a policy Jason Calacanis introduced when he Digg-ified Netscape.com.

In his post, Kevin says that Digg plans to introduce ways of helping Diggers find other Diggers with similar interests, and seems to suggest that the top Diggers list has outlived its usefulness, saying it “was created in the early days of Digg when there was a strong focus on encouraging people to submit content.” The implication is that with more than 5,000 submissions a day (and more than 50 million Diggs in two years), Digg doesn’t need to give people that incentive any more. Is that true? Digg is going to find out.

As Scott Karp (who writes about the recent Digg move here) says in a recent post, companies like Digg live by the community and die by the community. Steve O’Hear at ZDNet has some thoughts about the Digg move, and Josh Bokardo thinks Digg may be in for a surprise. Steve Rubel thinks Digg needs to start paying Diggers or it may be doomed. Mark Evans has a take on the recent move too. And there actually seems to be some support for the idea of removing the top Diggers list on the Digg site itself.


Jason Calacanis says he doesn’t think the latest change will work, and notes that thanks to Digg’s open API, it didn’t take long for someone to create a top Diggers list. And Chris Messina has an interesting post comparing community to the environment, and shifts like Digg’s recent one to changing weather patterns.

Update 2:

Svetlana Gladkova of Profy has an interview with a top Digger from Poland named Chrisek, who says that the changes won’t make much difference to Digg, and that they won’t affect him because he Diggs things for fun. And SEORefugee has some thoughts from another top Digger.

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