The newest release version of Digg is out – and the response hasn’t been too kind. While there seems to be a significant improvement in the speed and reliability of the Digg website’s software, there isn’t much else nice to say about the latest incarnation of social bookmarking.
At the root of it, the submission and upcoming process for Digg has been completely revamped. When new links are added, they don’t even show up in a public upcoming space. Instead, logged in users can view submissions from their friends and the “sources” they choose to follow. In this context, sources are basically established websites with an RSS feed ported in to Digg.
So basically, if your friends can’t lift the submission up to about 70 to get on the first “hot” phase of the upcoming section, it doesn’t look like there’s any way for organic success. Since there’s also been a lot of effort lately toward thwarting the influence of members with a lot of active friends, it seems to be that the only way to get a story on the front page now is to be a source with a lot of subscribers. Specifically, you need to be Cracked.com because they’ve currently got about 3/4 of the links on the Digg top list. To add insult to injury, here are some of the highest voted comments in those top stories:
Digg v4 Top News page is a conveyor belt of shit
42 diggs. No comments.
Reply: 28k followers
There are also two or three comments out of a dozen which are actually about the link content rather than Digg, but this doesn’t even seem to be one of Cracked.com’s better articles.
Kevin Rose is even stepping down
In a supposedly unrelated development, Digg co-founder Kevin Rose announced shortly after the v4 release that he would be stepping down as Digg’s CEO. While there had been talk of this for a while due to the generally poor financial return on this relatively popular website. Social media is notoriously hard to monetize, but alienating the user base seems more like a step backward at this point in their corporate development.
The future or just fewer choices?
One of the great things that really set Digg apart in the first place was that the content was truly made by the users. Any random person could create a new account at lunch time and have a story they submitted on the front page that afternoon. A domain that no one had ever heard of could suddenly become the next internet sensation.
When marketers figured out how to maximize their friends networks, some of the ideal was gone but the large part of the fan base wanted something that would
level the playing field. Instead, this turn toward sources and friends networks as a replacement for the upcoming page seems to be a turn in a direction back toward the supremacy of “who you know.”
Since “who you know” is technically dominated by those well-known websites with a lot of subscribers, don’t expect much from the new Digg except for the partial RSS feed of a few domains.
There is an upside here though for us publishers who aren’t big enough or interested in trying to compete on the new Digg. A lot of members are fleeing their old online home and looking for new communities to get involved with. There’s always been a market for niche social media sites, and right now at this moment in time there is a surplus of experienced bookmarkers with no particular brand loyalty.