Digg Just Buried Itself

May 2nd, 2007 | Categories: markets, networks, social media, strategy, trends, wikis

Digg logoThe irony is simply extraordinary.

The past day in the life of Digg has been chaotic, tumultuous, and earth-shattering to put it mildly. If you are unaware of what has gone on, please familiarize yourself with the events of the past day or so before reading on.

Digg has based its success and premise on the power of ‘the crowds’. Irony entered the picture when the crowds decided to turn against the site. Sound familiar? Drawing from similar offline events, this sounds like a civil war or a revolution of sorts. Who ever thought Rome would fall?

This is the day many have been waiting for. This is a day that had to happen in evolution of the net. This is the day we find the flaws of social media.

Up until now, people have rejoiced and praised the advantages and benefits of wikis, social media, and crowdsourcing (among other things). These trends not only create community and a sense of belonging, but also viral growth within the user base. But what happens when the community feels disjointed and betrayed? An uproar of mammoth proportions.

Digg users felt betrayed by the ‘corporate entity’ that is behind Digg. Though I’m sure the decision to remove the stories was made with the best intentions, the stories were not the concern in the first place (for the users). The decision was. When Digg decided to delete those stories, it jumped into the shark tank.

So what does the future of Digg look like now? Doubtful in my mind. The company valuation plummeted in a matter of hours. A lot of money was lost due to a little bit of information. My guess is that the site will stay up and the company will fight all allegations in court til the bitter end - but will lose. The day’s events also bring up other questions. How are Digg’s investors going to react? What about the VC’s? There are so many questions to be answered in the days to come… My mind is running at 100mph.

What is Digg at its core? An amazing product? No. A sophisticated program that took years to build? No. It’s a simple concept, an algorithm. The magic enters the equation when users begin to interact with the site. And this aspect becomes more true and more powerful (for good or bad) as the user base increases. Previously, good was all that had come of the site. But now we are seeing the dark, ill-fated side of Digg that many were scared to see, but are now forced to live with.

This story truly hits home as it deals with so many different angles, perspectives, and notions. I think that a lot of people fail to see the psychology behind the events. This is the most interesting aspect to me. I hope to see case studies and research done on this matter. How can a site that garners 1% of all U.S. Internet traffic fall in a matter of hours? The magnitude/amplitude/reach of the Internet is undeniably scary and this is evidence of that.

The true significance of the Digg story has nothing to do with Digg. It has to do with the future of the Internet at large. Digg is merely the introduction to this never-ending story.

As they say, don’t bite the hand that feeds you. Or in this case, don’t f*ck with your users. I wish Digg all the best and I hope we can all learn from its mistakes. All the best, Kevin Rose.


  1. Anonymous Says:

    I would restate your observation as “we now see the dark side of relying on web 2.0 as a means of securing profit for a small group of owners.” I would also like to add 09F911029D74E35BD84156C5635688C0.

  2. Hulu - A Legitimate Threat to YouTube Says:

    […] So how can Hulu compete against YouTube and the other big boys? Simple. Hulu has one thing that nearly all of other video sharing sites lack - the rights to production-quality content*. Sure, YouTube and others will continue to stream illegal content, but is this truly a sustainable long-term strategy? I’m not so convinced. What catapulted YouTube to the top in the first place may ultimately lead to its demise in the end. This is imminent flaw of social media. Just ask Digg. […]

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