In Digg’s Defense

13 Comments

Hitwise has analyzed the data and come up with the conclusion… Digg is not a patch on The New York Times. Which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone since The Times website has been around for a very long time, and Digg, well is just a puny little infant in web terms.

What I have to say about Digg is that it doesn’t cost as much to make, it doesn’t win Pulitzers, but it is still a lot of fun. Surely, you can’t go grab a brew with Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. But Kevin Rose, now that’s a whole different story.

More importantly, there is that other thing which the raw numbers miss: Digg is the new king maker. If that was not the case, then why else with big media outlets including BBC put the little “digg it” button next to their important stories. Sure, The Times at one time decided the fate of presidential candidates or in some cases Presidents, but in these harsher times, when page views have an impact on the bottom-line, Digg is the new king maker.

Funny part – Hitwise blog post has a little button that says: Digg It. Too bad it doesn’t say Time(s) It.

13 Comments

Om Malik

Stewart,

typically there are two kinds of editors. ones who are wordsmiths, and they craft, and shape the stories into masterpieces. however there are others who decide what goes on the front page. i think it is rarely those two talents come together.

i think digg replaces the later. i am not sure if all can agree on the digg front page stories, but one thing is for sure – they are interesting (if you are into technology) and fresh. same goes for techmeme, tail rank, etc.

Jeff Clavier

I actually continue reading the NYTimes online for the generic and political news coverage, and I find TechMeme more relevant to my interests than Digg – though the larger topical coverage of Digg 3 and the increased personalization are pretty cool.

My favorite news site – not available in English just yet – is Wikio because it mixes all types of sources (pure mainstream, specialized sources and blogs) and combines most interesting features of Digg, TechMeme, Topix, etc.

Disclosure: I ended up investing in Wikio.

Stewart Butterfield

Re

“being a member of the traditional media, it is fascinating to see how this little website has replaced the role occupied by the editors”

Except that it hasn’t in any way replaced the role occupied by editors, even a little bit. How many editors at the NYT, BBC, Time Inc, Condé Nast, Xinhua, Reuters, Gannett (and on and on) have lost their jobs because of Digg? How many will in the case where Digg gets 10x or 100x bigger? I’m pretty sure the answer is “0” and “0”.

Aidan Henry

I am a true believer in the democratization of the Internet. I am sick of using the cliche, “giving the power back to the people”, but it is fitting in the current web landscape.

Digg, along with other wildly successful ‘web 2.0’ sites such as Wikipedia and Craigslist, has taken the power from huge corporations and handed authority back to the user. Many profits have been eliminated in the process, which is why corporations are not very receptive to the idea.

From a user perspective, I am hopeful that more such start-ups continue to appear on the web.

Aidan Henry

Danny Sullivan

being a member of the traditional media, it is fascinating to see how this little website has replaced the role occupied by the editors, especially the ones who decide what is on page one.

Hasn’t replaced it at all, in my book. Complementary, maybe. But I see stuff on Digg that isn’t news, or I see stuff where the best article isn’t necessarily being plugged, and I certainly get plenty of stuff presented with no context or background.

I don’t want them to go away, and they definitely deserve credit for exciting people about sharing news more and providing another method to tune into stories. But there’s also been human involvement that’s been discussed on Digg, plus there’s been gaming of how stories have gotten onto the front page, as well.

Nothing’s perfect, of course. I don’t want to seem like I’m knocking them entirely. It’s just they have a place among the many news choices out there — they aren’t necessarily in my book a replacement for all of them.

chris sivori

I’m boycotting digg. When you view the RSS feed and click on a link, they make you log in before you can view the link. Very bad move.

Darren Waters

Small clarification – the BBC News website does not have a “Digg” button on its stories and I’ve not seen one on other parts of the BBC.

Om Malik

Guys, whatever you might think of Digg, or their technology focus, I love the idea of news being curated by communities.

being a member of the traditional media, it is fascinating to see how this little website has replaced the role occupied by the editors, especially the ones who decide what is on page one.

digg, to me represents the american idolization of the news selection/curation process. And the fact is that they are only a year old. I think they deserve the credit.

Chris Boersma

I think you put it best when you say

“To understand and be excited by Digg you need to understand and be excited by (and hopefully participate in) online communities”

Digg is a great tech site, but when you sit and talk to people who are not tech geeks, many rarely visit digg in favour of the more popular news sites like the Times, CNN, BBC etc.

With the launch of the new Digg, and it’s recent penetration into non tech articles and news I think they definitely have the potential of becoming the next “King Maker”, but I am reluctant to say that they have that title today.

Danny Sullivan

Digg is the new king maker. If that was not the case, then why else with big media outlets including BBC put the little “digg it” button next to their important stories.

Because it’s an easy way to get traffic, and they aren’t stupid. But Digg hardly is a kingmaker of many of these sites. Somehow sites managed to struggle on without getting Digged or Slashdotted, so let’s not fall down and worship Digg as a sole king maker. People don’t “Times It” because the Times isn’t that type of community place. Doesn’t mean non-community sites are doomed to die, can’t generate their own traffic without the community tie in or so on. Can’t we have a spectrum of sites and niches, rather than it always having to be black and white?

PS: Sorry about the accidental anonymous post above. Hit submit too quickly — you can delete.

Anonymous

Digg is the new king maker. If that was not the case, then why else with big media outlets including BBC put the little “digg it” button next to their important stories.

Because it’s an easy way to get traffic, and they aren’t stupid. But Digg hardly is a kingmaker of many of these sites. Somehow sites managed to struggle on without getting Digged or Slashdotted, so let’s not fall down and worship Digg as a sole king maker. People don’t “Times It” because the Times isn’t that type of community place. Doesn’t mean non-community sites are doomed to die, can’t generate their own traffic without the community tie in or so on. Can’t we have a spectrum of sites and niches, rather than it always having to be black and white?

Daniel Griffin

Much more important then page views is that Digg is the “new king maker”. And besides – aren’t page views merely a statistic used to hopefully point out who the king maker/king is? Isn’t (yes) being the king maker more powerful than being the king? So we shouldn’t be as concerned with how many people use it and realize the immense power the community does weld.

Sean

I think that this is expected. Digg is a great community for the technically literate, but a vast majority of the world still lack any sort of online community membership. For them, the web is the new newspaper or the new magazine. To understand and be excited by Digg you need to understand and be excited by (and hopefully participate in) online communities.

Otherwise, Digg is just a newspaper with short stories and no pictures.

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