After Kevin posted to the Digg blog Wednesday evening that there were algorithmic changes to affect the impact of stories that will be promoted to the front page of the site, a “revolt” ensued and an open letter was written. An emergency Drill Down episode was held where numerous Digg users, including regular hosts Andy (MrBabyman), Reg (zaibatsu), and Muhammad (msaleem) spoke with other Digg users, including David Cohn (DigiDave), Karim (supernova17), JD Rucker (oboy), and Jay Fowler (SilentJay74). The initial sentiment was highly negative, and most concluded that the algorithm will penalize users who care much about the community and use it regularly. At first, a Digg embargo was proposed where no Digg users would submit or Digg stories until Monday, January 28th. Eventually, however, founder Kevin Rose and CEO Jay Adelson joined the chat and gave their feedback. Here’s what they said (also covered on Soshable and later posted on Brent Csutoras’s blog):
- With regards to the new algorithm, Jay says, “algorithms are dynamic in nature. Give it time in your analysis of what’s going on. The math takes time to aggregate.” (Lesson: Stop noticing things the second that they happen.)
- The goal of the algorithmic change is to get a more diverse number of people to Digg the stories on upcoming. This diversity is not necessarily affected by whether the users digging the stories are friends or fans. It’s more of an overall picture of user behavior. (The concern of the users, however, is that not many regular Digg users visit the Upcoming section of Digg. This was not addressed in the chat.)
- Kevin says that earlier this evening, he hosted a focus group at Digg to beta test some new features to be rolled out in the future. This is the “recommendation engine” that many users have been talking about. Ultimately, Digg will look at your behavior and suggest other stories that are not popular that you may also be interested in Digging. This will give other users a chance at getting exposure on Digg. Kevin also hinted that this recommendation engine may replace Upcoming section.
- As far as an autobury feature, neither Kevin nor Jay explicitly acknowledged existence of one. Kevin said that Digg Spy, a tool which records user buries, votes, and comments on the site, was created in Digg’s infancy and only captures a fraction of the data that is occurring on the site at any given time. That said, it cannot capture all buries, and they cannot verify the accuracy of the Bury Recorder. Both Kevin and Jay say that we should give the community the benefit of the doubt. When asked about “autobury,” Jay said something along the lines of “why would we do that?”
- Kevin and Jay apologize if support emails are unanswered. They don’t intend to ignore these issues. If questions are asked repeatedly, they usually get their own blog post on the Digg blog.
- Kevin says that there is a Digg staff member (moderator) on duty at any given time to enforce TOS regulations.
- The other concern is that users were questioning the consistent bannings that have been happening on the site as of late. A specific issue was brought up about my concern about a banned user who seemed to be a pure Digg submitter and contributor with a strong history on the site. Kevin and Jay said that initially, Digg would ban the users and give them a second chance. Lately, however, there are different types of issues that have arisen. In terms of one specific user, both MrBabyMan and I reached out to Digg support and did not get a response. In the show, Andy asked Digg at the very least to get back to the person who was banned. Jay said, “we are, in 99% of cases.” (The person we both speak about was not contacted. Another person in the chat claims to have emailed Digg five times and did not get a response.) Jay and Kevin admit that this can be a tricky situation because they are more aware of what is happening behind the scenes than we are, and they would have a better idea if a TOS violation has occurred.
- Both Kevin and Jay are open to “town hall” meetings where users can voice their concerns about the service and get straight answers from Digg. They say that they want to hear from the users and they want the feedback.
For the most part, the response was expected, but I have to hand it to Kevin and Jay for coming out and actually talking to us about it. The embargo is no longer in effect and it seems that all may actually go well back on Digg. Thanks, guys!