You know what I find funny? When rules of a website say one thing and the founder of the website goes against everything the Terms of Service stand for.
Kevin Rose, I’m talking to you.
Allow me to point out two infractions made, perhaps intentionally, on your part.
Digg’s FAQ (Submitting Section, Question #3) says that duplicate submissions are bannable violations. Here’s the exact wording:
# Is it a duplicate story if I submit a similar story but from a different source?
That isn’t for us to decide. Sometimes there is a better story from another news outlet. We let our users determine that aspect of duplicate submissions. It is, however, a duplicate story if you submit the same story from the same source. We strongly discourage the submission of duplicate stories as it only steals credit from the first submitter. If we find abusive duplicate submission behavior from users, their accounts may be banned.
The emphasis is obviously mine. I personally have been a victim of duplicate submissions (from the same exact URL) at least four times — and the bottom line to the end user is that it sucks. However, if you’re Kevin Rose, you’re apparently above the rules. For illustrative purposes, I’m linking to the submissions and including screenshots in case Digg decides to censor remove the links.
Thirty-five days ago, on October 4th, Graham (cosmikdebris), who clearly has an interest in stories about science, submitted a story about stopping atoms to Digg (and no, he did not ask me to write this — I am composing this independently of him). As the original submitter, Graham’s Digg submission had a unique URL: http://digg.com/general_sciences/Stopping_Atoms.
Four days later, Kevin found a reprint of the same story in ScienceDaily. He thought it was Diggbait, so he submitted it to Digg. His URL is appended with a _2, which indicates that it was a duplicate submission: http://digg.com/general_sciences/Stopping_Atoms_2
The ironic thing is that Digg has a somewhat decent duplicate detection system. If you submit duplicate stories within minutes of each other, the dupe checker may not notify you that you’ve submitted the work of somebody else. However, if you submit the story a few hours later or a few days later, Digg’s system always asks you if you’re sure that you haven’t submitted a dupe. It is only when you’re positive that you haven’t duplicated the submission that you may then proceed.
Apparently, Kevin ignored that duplicate warning and submitted the same story with the same title and description anyway. Here are the resulting screenshots (which I took earlier — just in case). The original, first:
And here’s the duplicate submission. The comments are classic; click on the image for a full-sized version:
Obviously, it looks like Mr. Rose made an error of judgment here. I suppose that’s fine if it happens — and yes, we’re humans, so I can see this occurring every so often. That’s why I ignored it for 35 days.
Today, however, the infraction got a little more out of hand. It began with the banning of a friend of mine for a social experiment he performed on Digg. I now present you with …
On October 31st, my friend Erik created a Facebook group for Digg fans which was inspired by the extremely popular (3241 Diggs as of this writing) Digg story about how Stephen Colbert’s Facebook group was the fastest growing ever. In an attempt to surpass that record, Erik created a Facebook group about Digg solely as an experiment with no malicious intentions whatsoever. He submitted the Facebook group’s URL to Digg to see if he could garner 1 million users on Facebook via networking. Unfortunately, Digg’s abuse team didn’t think so. Here’s what they were doing when the story hit the front page:
They were removing the story. The URL now is dead. This is a screenshot of the Digg moderators busy at work.
Here’s a screenshot of the Facebook group (which is alive and well):
Subsequently, Erik was banned from Digg with the following scathing attack:
Your account has been disabled for attempting to use Digg as a staging area to launch an attack. This is explicitly outlined in the TOS you agreed to when you signed up. Judging from your active history on Digg, it is apparent that you are very aware what constitutes a violation. Your actions are far from innocent.
Actually, Digg, Erik is a 17-year-old kid who is pretty damn innocent. Before he got banned, the only thing he told me is that “I’m really excited about this and I hope it works.” Does his story look like a launching pad for an attack? I don’t think so… and I’d have left this small issue alone too, but then today came along.
This morning, Facebook came out with “new product pages” and Digg jumped at the opportunity to make a difference. Mr. Rose created the official Digg Facebook group and, ironically, submitted the story (linking directly to the Facebook group) to Digg.
It’s still there, my friends, and that story has accrued over 1000 votes so far.
Now if you ask me, I’d say that Erik and Kevin had similar motives (except that Erik probably didn’t care for the monetary gain of the Facebook ads whereas Kevin is all in it for the dough). Both wanted to create a Facebook community to connect users to each other. On one hand, Erik’s group was construed as a severe DDOS attempt whereas Kevin’s submission is construed as a way of making Digg money. It, therefore, passed with flying colors. After all, Kevin is the Digg founder, and who on his staff would question the motives of the guy?
After all is said and done, none of this is quite fair to the end user. I understand that Kevin Rose is the founder of Digg, and for that reason alone, he has a lot of my respect. However, Kevin, you need to realize that your users are important and they drive your site’s success. If you didn’t have a userbase, you wouldn’t be where you are. As such, please respect the user. I don’t fault you for wanting to be a star, but come on, Kevin — you know that you blatantly duplicated someone else’s submission which is clearly against your own TOS, and you also should realize that it’s not fair that someone got banned for doing the same thing as you!
Kevin, perhaps I’m Digg’s biggest vocal critic, and I wouldn’t be critical of the system if I didn’t care for Digg’s success. I like Digg — a lot. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be so cognizant of these small things and have my own strong opinions on the new Digg. Obviously, I’ve invested a lot of time in using the service, but I’m not sure if you are a strong user as you are the founder and have business to attend to.
This, ironically, relates somewhat to my recent blog post about not understanding the social communities that you’re involved in: unless you’re truly invested in the service, you won’t understand the mentality of the users who do spend considerable amount of time on Digg. Colleges have Resident Assistants who adhere to the same rules as the students, and they live among their students so they’re very much part of that community. Kevin, I’m afraid that you’re not aware of the ongoing events at Digg, or you clearly don’t have time to realize that you’re just the founder of Digg; you’re not really a user like the rest of us. And if you were, these things should not have happened.
I know you want more pageviews. I know you want more members. Kevin, I want to see Digg thrive and flourish too. However, at the end of the day, if you disregard the voices of your users and ignore their pleas, you’re not going to come out victorious. That said, I advise you to try to focus on making Digg a win-win situation for everyone involved, including yourself. Just don’t forget about who uses the service regularly when it comes to the success that you’ve had thus far.
Note: Diggers mentioned here who were the victims of inconsistent treatment under Digg’s TOS were not involved with the creation of this post in any way and should not be understood as consenting to its publication.