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.

PayPerPost: a Web 2.0 witch-hunt

I have a lot of respect for Jeff Jarvis. He’s been pushing the social-media thing longer than just about anyone, and he knows a lot about the media business. And I think Jason Calacanis is a smart guy too, although I know he gets on a lot of peoples’ nerves. But I don’t get why the mere mention of PayPerPost.com seems to drive both of them completely off the deep end (Scott Karp gets into it at The Blog Herald too). There’s a moralistic tone to the whole subject that I find odd.

In the latest installment of the saga, Jeff and some other smart people at the AlwaysOn conference slammed the company and its compensation model for bloggers, and then Ted Murphy — CEO of the company — stood up and took issue with some of what Jeff and the panel said. The company requires that bloggers disclose that they are being paid, he pointed out (although Jeff rightly noted that this came only after pressure from the blogosphere).

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Then Jeff makes fun of the fact that Murphy has a TV crew following him, and compares him to the ill-fated Bubble 1.0 company that was the subject of the movie Startup, something that is echoed by Valleywag. And Jason Calacanis says the PayPerPost “scam” and “train wreck” is coming off the rails and that the “most hated company” on the Web is doomed.

I thought PayPerPost was bad too (although I didn’t call it a “cancer” like some people), because it didn’t require bloggers to disclose that they were being compensated. But now it does, even if that disclosure comes in the form of an overall policy, rather than something that is declared on a per-post basis. And there are plenty of other ways for bloggers to be compensated and become conflicted. What makes Ted Murphy into Satan all of a sudden?

Jeff’s post in particular has a real lecturing tone to it that I find irritating. He holds PayPerPost up to public ridicule, accuses them of giving parents the tools to exploit their children (like parents haven’t been doing that for centuries anyway — and check the comment on Jeff’s blog from the mother he mentions in his post), and then makes fun of the CEO for promoting his company.

Is the startup reality show idea stupid? No doubt. But no stupider than lots of other things. For more on this topic, check out WinExtra’s blog and ZDNet’s Larry Dignan’s balanced take, as well as a nicely-written rant from Jeneane Sessum at Allied, and another over at The Last Podcast.