Thursday, October 25, 2007

Why Digg Is Neither Relevant Nor Useful

I'm pretty sure what I write here won't be pleasant to read for some people. But that's OK - life is never perfect.

To start off my rant about Digg, I'll just point out that I have no argument with its success or popularity. I myself have used it on a regular basis - but no more. Digg is one of the net's most popular sites, it has a lot of users who enjoy it daily, and the idea behind it was pretty good to begin with. It's just that something got rotten along the way.

I'm not even talking about the "blog spam" or payed diggers that users are complaining about. I think they are marginal problems. Digg has bigger fish that smell bad.

So, why do I think Digg is irrelevant? Here are my reasons:

  1. Slow: I don't mean the site is loading slowly (although that happens a lot, too). I mean to say that Digg is slow on picking up the hot news. If you want to stay updated in current events - like I do - you can't rely on Digg. It takes hours, usually, for am item to gain enough popularity to reach the homepage, and by the time it does, you've already read about it in your favorite news site or RSS feed.

  2. Politics (External): Debating politics is good. Even excellent. It shows that you care about your country's future. The problem is, if you are not from the US - the debates in Digg are really irrelevant for you. Further more, seems like the top Diggs are very one sided and you don't get to see a myriad of opinions like you would expect in a social news site.

  3. Politics (Internal): Digg has a large variety of users. Still, it seems like there are certain groups of users, banded together to help each other digg stories. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it means that it's a hell of a lot harder for a "regular" user to reach the front page. I have seen it many times - a user posts a great link for a great story and gets no Diggs. Hours later, a "power user" posts the same story, gathers his first 30-40 diggs quickly enough, and gets to the homepage of digg. That doesn't make any sense to me. It means the "friends" you collect around you are more important than the content you present. Which means a lot of shitty, old and duplicate stories can get to the homepage simply because a strong user has posted them. Where is the value in that? Which brings me to my next point:

  4. Utterly uninteresting content: Stupid Top-10 lists, Idiotic New-Age advice, and not-very-funny videos are just a tiny example of the things that get to the front page of digg - and no one even knows who wants to read that. It's basically the same stuff over and over again, which gets to the homepage because of the very efficient cliques that help each other "Digg their stuff". Thus, the homepage of digg doesn't really represent the most interesting news according to the users, but instead it shows the news that the top users think are interesting. Kinda like editors in a regular content site, isn't it?

  5. Bad Apple: Way too many news about Apple. In a way that makes you wonder whether there are other hi-tech company in the world. Yeah, OK, we get it - Apple is very co0l. We are just tired of the hype. Sometimes there are 3-4 Apple items in the front page. It makes digg look like a site for Apple freaks. Well, maybe it is.

  6. Angry Mobs: The general atmosphere is the comments section of digg can get really scary. People are downright violent sometimes, and users are getting viciously attacked just for stating an unpopular opinion. Sure, there are trolls everywhere, but in digg they really reign supreme. Not to mention comment burying: it's not that rating is a bad thing - it's because people just can't help themselves. Put a civilized man behind a keyboard and give him anonymity - and you get an evil, stupid monster.
And that's really the bottom line - the assumption that many "editors" are better than one has been proved wrong. One man can be either smart or an idiot. The mob is always stupid and violent - and that's Digg for you.


coxy said...

At least it doesn't get flooded with spammers, like Thoof.

Revital Salomon said...

coxy, digg is full of spammers - a lot of the articles that reach the homepage would be considered spam and/or useless junk by many people. And you can always block users if you want - it's very easy.

Anonymous said...

I got accused of spamming Thoof from a guy by the name of COXY, I wonder if this is the same guy Revital!

Anonymous said...

yeah I agree. I'ver had an opinion backed by someone on digg, only critisized, and the power-user + friends thing is real! and it SUCKS!

Anonymous said...

Yes! I completely agree, Digg has some problem with retrieving the articles that are relevant to the user. Check out my article on this subject: Why Digg works. And Where it Fails.