I see Digg now says has a million
users. Well, as many are
pointing out, at least 1,000,000 registered accounts that may or may not
have actual active users. How many really use Digg as active registered members
is known only to Digg. But as I watch Digg merrily allow every story from
Search Engine Land get buried out of
ignorant vindictiveness (more below), I figure maybe I should just abandon my
account. I’m especially disillusioned having first-hand witnessed what seems to
be a Digg cover-up attempt (again, more below).
I’m sure Digg wouldn’t care. I’m not very active, nor would I ever be a top
Digger since I don’t post about Linux and I
hate Apple, two of the
favorite topics. For the record, I do love Battlestar Galactica, as
I’ve written, and people seemed to like
my I Want Jack Bauer’s Cell Phone
post. Yes, 24 rocks! Maybe my TV habits would get me a pass?
But seriously, while I might not be active, I’ve had a few things Diggers
might have liked. Typically that’s news from Google and other search engines
directly, just as soon as it is out. That’s part of what Digg was supposed to be
about — spreading the news fast.
I’m not talking Search Engine Land writing about something a search engine
had done and submitting that to Digg. I mean being the first person to post at
Digg with links to the official announcements themselves, such as Google’s click
release, or a disappearing pages glitch at Google being
confirmed, Google earnings being
announced, Google bombs being
reorganization. In all those cases, I was the first to get Diggers the
official news, within minutes of it coming out. But since I don’t have much of a
friends network — nor have I developed much Digg power through my submissions,
these stories have been submitted and died.
I might stick with it, stick with Digg, but it’s hard to understand why as
you learn more how the "democracy" of those 1,000,000 users really seems to be
where a secret police system monitors any utterance of diggcrime, even a
suspected utterance, and promptly banishes the site from being seen on Digg in the future.
I’m working up a much longer, thoughtful article about this. One of the
things I’m waiting on is an official response from Digg — which is quite happy
to reach out for coverage when there’s something positive (and has
gotten it), but so
far stays silent on discussing questions it may not want discussed.
Here’s the short story. Last week, I
dared write about
the alleged Digg bury brigade. Actually, I wrote about how to tap into the Digg
Spy service if you wanted to pull out some bury activity. I didn’t name any
"brigade members" nor even say there was a brigade. But that story got
submitted to Digg
(not by me, probably by someone using the Digg buttons Digg itself encourages us
to use), which in turn got Search Engine Land on someone’s shit list.
Bear in mind, there’s a good chance we got on that list by someone who never
even read the article. They may have just assumed it was about the bury brigade
allegations, a topic I’ve learned seems to be one of the most heated at Digg.
I’ll give an example of this further down.
As concerns about buries ramped up last week, I did a second article. This
type, I talked about bury abuses. I’d done a previous article,
Diggers Can’t Handle The
Truth (About SEO), going step-by-step about how that story had been buried
by some for the wrong reasons. Keep in mind, you can’t tell who buries a story
or why. But sometimes comments leave clues, and those clues raised concerns that
Diggers were sometimes reporting sites as spam rather than more appropriate bury
My second article,
Digg’s Kevin Rose Fails To Stop The Bury Brigade, went step-by-step again on
how to tell if a submission from a site gets buried, something that can be a
mystery to people. "Bury Brigade" was in the title, but this was a reference to
how Search Engine Land articles had begun systematically being buried by a
person or persons in a clearly coordinated manner. Effectively, the site was
(and remains) banned on Digg even though Digg itself isn’t officially doing it.
I think. You can’t tell because buries aren’t public. And by the way, we’re not the only ones experiencing the “unofficial” ban situation.
ended up on Digg. Heh. It got buried — less than fifteen minutes after
being submitted. Now picture the democracy. Before anyone who monitors what I
submit (my friends) or lots of people who just watch new submissions come in,
the story was gone. Poof. No more chance for it ever to go popular, and a
decision perhaps made by one lone but powerful person. We don’t know who exactly, because
buries are invisible. You know a story is buried but not who did it. It’s like having an election where 15 minutes after voting
begins, someone is able to make a change to yank a candidate off the ballot.
Remember how I said buries could happen for the wrong reason, by people who
might not have even read the story to know what it was about? When my second
story hit Digg, this was explicitly proven. User
Canewediggit was the first to
comment on it:
i’m burying this as spam. you know why? all those "bury brigade" articles
are WRONG. they have been proven WRONG. yet some people feel the need to
continuously write them and report them. the data was INACCURATE, they proved
nothing. and i’m getting really f-ing sick of seeing these articles every day.
apparently, burying them as inaccurate wasn’t doing the trick, so now you get
my spam vote. come with proof.
The story wasn’t spam, something that I’d submitted to Digg somehow against
its guidelines. I didn’t submit it at all. Nor was the story about the bury
brigade that Canewediggit was thinking of, something I’ve repeatedly tried to
explain to him in the
comments at Digg. Canewediggit, who is understandably mad that ANOTHER story
apparently labeled him as a top burier, when he says he is not, is now
ironically burying all stories that he thinks are about that topic even if he
doesn’t read them.
You can’t read Canewediggit’s original comment at Digg any longer, however.
That’s where the cover-up part comes in. I wondered if it was a violation of
Digg’s terms for someone to deliberately use the wrong Bury option or to
systematically bury stories in some manner. I messaged the
email@example.com address about it, pointing to
To my surprise, several hours later, I got this reply:
We have addressed the issue. If you’re seeing any other problems, please
Wow. What did they do, suspend him (or her, but I’m assuming it’s a him)?
Warn him? I went to the thread, expecting to see some angry comment about having
been warned. Instead, his original comment where he admit using the wrong Bury
option was removed. Along with it went, sadly, a lot of really good discussion
on the entire topic that was going on from multiple Digg users, making one
remark in the another thread that survived:
Hmmm. We spent a good deal of that thread debating. My position being there
is no bury brigade and there is nothing fishy going on with Digg. This isn’t
looking good for me…
Something fishy indeed. That’s because Canewediggit himself posted after the
thread removal, and his
comments made it clear he’d not had any type of warning. He learned of the
abuse message from what I posted in the thread, and after the "action" had been
done by Digg.
Why would Digg act to protect him? He has a
number of home
page stories, so perhaps it was an attempt to keep a top user happy. If so, hey
– top users can do whatever they want. And some animals are more equal than
others, in the democracy.
Like I said, I’m working up a much longer piece on this. Having spent years
talking to people upset that the Google "democracy" of link analysis doesn’t
seem to work — years listening to sometimes paranoid comments that Google is
some "guardian" of the web where if you’re not listed, you’re invisible — I
find it interesting to be encountering the same issue myself with Digg.
The difference is that Digg isn’t the guardian of anything, nor do I feel I’m
somehow wiped out if I’m not listed there or made invisible. I’m made invisible
to people on Digg. That’s their loss, not mine. For example, Digg’s known for
having lots of Google fanboys, people who love Google no matter what. Last week,
Dissecting Microsoft Slams At Google As Copyright Infringer defense of many
of Microsoft’s accusations against Google
In this case, I submitted it myself. That’s not against the rules, and I made
it clear it was a self-submit. But I did it to time how long it would take to
get buried. That one hung in there for I think 40 minutes. But it was ultimately
buried. Really, it’s a story you’d think the fanboys would have loved. I’m not a
Google fanboy — I just like balance. But this gave plenty of fanboys stuff they
would have liked. They just never got a chance to see it. Their loss. Sure, the
traffic would have been nice — but over 2,000 other people did see it through
Hopefully I’ll have my longer piece together next week. The Google/Digg
comparison is so compelling. What I do know is that for all the accusations
aimed against Google, the democracy of its links is far more open and fair than
what seems to be the case at the "people" news search engine of Digg.