The Problem with Digg

April 21st, 2008 | Categories: blogs, marketing, networks, social media, trends, web issues

There is a fundamental problem with Digg. The site tends to favour content from big blogs and media publishers. Meanwhile, content from less prominent blogs and web-publishing entities remains in the shadows, unknown to most. This isn’t the fault of Digg itself, as the site relies entirely on user voting and participation. The flaw in the system can be traced back to the perception of users.

Most users tend to favour content from notable publishers. There is a high level of assumed quality. Although this is usually true, it doesn’t mean that the most interesting, thought-provoking articles on a given day will come from a limited number of sources. In face, there is a high likelihood that the best content is produced by long-tail publishers and never viewed by the masses. These “golden nuggets” often spur new discussions and conversations.

Due to this assumed perception of quality, very little variety is present on the front page. It is unlikely to find a small publisher unless a combination of timing, theme, and serendipity collide in a productive manner.

Perhaps, Digg needs to explore new methods of content discovery, highlighting high quality content from the lesser known sites somehow. I’m not exactly sure how this can be accomplished. An idea would be to showcase high quality articles from smaller publishers by filtering out content from the top X% of publishers.

A vicious cycle needs to be broken. Because the small guy has to credibility, no-one Diggs his content. Because no-one Diggs his content, he remains small in size and relatively unknown, unable to build authority and status. My hope is that Digg is able to come up with a new method of discovering quality content that wouldn’t otherwise receive any attention.


  1. Mark Evans Says:

    For all the talk about aggregation these days (e.g. FriendFeed), there is a huge opportunity for content discovery because there is so much great stuff out there that gets little, if any, attention. Check out Techsted, which has a B-List category.

  2. Eric Berlin Says:

    I haven’t spent a lot of time on Digg for a while, but my experience has been that the top Digg users have the most influence over what hits the front page. So then we can suppose that the top Diggers are submitting more from traditional media/big blogs, which therefore tend to hit the front page more than the “little guy.”

    A “B-List category” seems to be a growing need, will check out Techsted, Mark. Alternatively, there’s a desire it seems for more refined content filters, such as with Reddit’s “Elite Tech” social news section.

  3. Greg Gunn Says:

    I am a huge Digg fan, but the relevance of the top dugg articles has become less about good content and more about a group-digg mentality. There is definately a digg cult that has developed and “controls” the site.

    When Digg first came out I was excited that it would help me discover interesting content out there. I can’t say that it has not followed through on this expectation, but the content seems to become more and more biased towards the Linux-loving-hillary-hater club.

    I hope that they find a way to make the digg experience more personal, and I seem to remember seeing an article where Kevin Rose mentions some sort of story recomendation service. I will see if I can “digg” it up ;)

  4. Gary Hamer Says:

    Hey Aiden,

    I met you a few weeks ago with Harry and I have been checking out your blog every now and again. In reading this article I realize you do bring up some good points and I agree with some of what you are typing. The purpose of digg is to share and discover content on the web, from huge sites to little blogs. It’s also worth pointing out that the community runs Digg, sure you can say that a small amount of people do have a lot of sway when it comes to which articles get Dugg. At the same time I see it as a lot like an election, you need to get out there and voice your opinion, i.e. Digg. The most active users are the one’s who have the power to decide on articles. So if you want the content to change you need to be that active person getting out there and creating the relationships and Diggin the things you find worthy. In the end I just see it as coming back to the election analogy, if you want change make your voice heard.

  5. Efrain Says:

    I Totally agree with you, The Digg site does has a flaw. Poplar publisher always get their submittion on the front page. I hope Digg find a way to fix this issue, They should place the newly submitted news on the front pages. Hopefully that give the the non-poplar publisher a fighting chance of being notice. On a personal note i stop submitting on Digg, they has so many users that minutes after a good artical is release it’s already on Digg. I just use Digg to find out what new.

  6. Steve Spalding Says:

    Just a point to think about — volume.

    I completely agree that popular publishers get a disproportionate amount of Digg Front Pages, but also remember that popular publishers also publish large -amounts- of content.

    If you publish 15 articles a day, it seems much more likely that one of those pieces will end up on a Social Bookmarking site.

    I am not sure how much this plays into it, but it’s something to think about.

  7. Aidan Says:

    Some very good points. Thanks for all the comments guys.

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