Why Nobody Should Buy Digg

Digg Sucks!It hasn’t even been a week and my once positive outlook of Digg has come to a sour end. Yesterday, Brian Clark over at Copyblogger wrote that Digg is dead. You know, for awhile, I was giving Digg the benefit of the doubt. When I reported bugs, I got responses. Of course, when it came to the bury brigade, Digg never acknowledged those emails, neither by stating that there was a bury brigade or not. They simply ignored those accusations. Some might say that silence is agreement.

Not long ago, my friend Erik was banned for submitting a story to Digg that Digg construed as a denial of service attempt. However, when he apologized and vowed not to commit the crime again, Digg reinstated his account. He had to make a promise, but once he did, he was back in. The process took no longer than two hours.

A few weeks later, my friend Mike submitted a somewhat NSFW story to Digg. He, too, got banned. He asked Digg about his banning, and they almost immediately responded to him. When he promised not to violate the rules, they reinstated him. Again, the process did not take long at all.

This past weekend (Saturday, most specifically), two of my friends were banned from Digg. The reasons are unknown. One friend was in Digg’s top 40 submitter list and was an extremely loyal and dedicated user. The other friend was a new but very “religious” user. Initially, both sent emails asking Digg for an explanation. The newer user emailed Digg three times after Digg did not respond. After several days of silence, she even called Digg’s reception desk and begged for mercy (though they refused to send her to the support department). Many friends sent appeals on both friends’ behalves as well. Digg neither responded nor acknowledged receipt of the emails.

I also emailed Digg to appeal for these users’ accounts. Contrary to past success with responses from them, I have received no response from them in the last few days. One can only wonder if this is because Digg is more concerned with a proposed $300 million sale. And therefore, I implore you: to anyone looking to potentially buy Digg, just don’t.

I have a friend who was a top Digger. He then got a job at Digg. Of course, nobody would expect that he should be taken advantage of because he’s in a “strategic position” since he’s working for The Man. And it makes sense (due to necessary NDAs and the like) that once Digg took him on board, his loyalties to his friends would be dropped. I never requested insider information. However, when I appealed (after Digg support refused to answer my emails) for him to simply “ask [his] coworkers to follow-up on the banning inquiries,” his response was “sorry, I cannot help.” The point I try to make here is that Digg will not comment nor at least acknowledge that they’re passing these messages on (even if they aren’t!) In other words, they don’t give a damn about the community and they seemed to have moved on — perhaps completely. At the minimum, the support staff should have responded to these inquiries. Instead, since they weren’t, we are left to our own devices and seek alternative methods (which are not the right avenues of communication, but what do you do when the proper roads lead you to a dead end?).

Now we know that Digg has had a history of transparency problems and abuse from the founder himself. We also know that Digg is seriously broken (and it has been for the last three months). Why should anyone put their eggs in a leaky basket? Digg needs to do two things before it even remotely considers itself capable of being bought: it needs to fix what’s broken (and not make empty promises or promises that are not fulfilled in a timely manner), and it needs to actually acknowledge the existence of the community. Kevin Rose may have founded Digg, but leaving it on autopilot was a bad move. Jay Adelson doesn’t even talk about Digg anymore. The only person I think that seems to act as a public figure for Digg as of late is Daniel Burka, who is a good man, but unfortunately he’s in a tough position. Quite frankly, I don’t think there’s really a good person running the company. A good company leader would actually recognize that a social news network implies that there are participants involved and that the users are the most important part of the service. As long as Digg continues to ignore the community, the community will be vocal in their own way. If that means that they’ll tell Allen & Co. that they’ll never actually sell Digg, so be it. I think that’s the case right now until Digg changes its attitude.

Digg, I think you forgot that you can’t just ignore your community simply because you’re ready to sell. In fact, that’s exactly why I urge nobody to invest in Digg. First and foremost, Digg needs to invest in us. It seems that ever since Digg hired a bank to look for a sale, they forgot about answering the support emails. They forgot about the community. They sure did a good job at catching up to Mixx in terms of implementation (especially because the pressure was on), but they didn’t do a good job responding to the users’ inquiries. And at the end of the day, that’s what really matters. That’s what really resonates. That’s what makes users permanent. That’s what makes users loyal.

Just remember, Digg and Kevin Rose: you built the platform. We, however, built the success. You can turn your backs on us if you want to, but don’t expect to get things done the way you want it to be.

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62 replies on “Why Nobody Should Buy Digg”
  1. Digg has a huge problem. It cannot change, but it has to change. As a brand, it is cold, cynical and not as smart as it thinks. A bit like a lot of it’s users. It has a terrible business model in that if 100 of it’s users (the top diggers) stop using it it will become rubbish. Infested with gangs of cyber spivs trying to push their spammy ringtone site. It is only 100 top diggers that keep the scum at bay.

  2. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan Tamar’s back to being critical of Digg. Love this side of you Tamar! It’s even more significant considering you’re a power user there and all the incredibly things I’ve either seen personally or been told about by friends.

    On a related note, you missed Digg Blackmail (for which, oh irony of ironies and shitty Google domain trust algos, Digg ranks on top of Performancing; it’s like me linking to your criticism of Kevin Rose and getting into the SERPs above you).

    As usual, I’m loving your content Tamar!

  3. @ Lyndon: I think that’s the most powerful, cutting, poignant criticism and statement anyone could possibly make about Digg. The foundation is shaky as all hell. Imagine if Calacanis had hired away those top users to Netscape!

  4. Gab, that’s great! I didn’t even see that post yet, but this is hilarious. It’s funny that the abuse system is quick to remove spammy stories, but when it comes to them actually responding to real concerns about real users with real feelings, they don’t care.

    This might be an online world and all, but people still have feelings. Would Digg want to be held liable if one of their most loyal users went off the deep end (put it this way, hurt themselves) because Digg banned their account? Did Digg lose sight about the fact that people are sensitive? It’s time to respond to it.

  5. says: Digidave

    The site isn’t functional (its slow and buggy). Which means the only thing keeping me there are the people. If Digg can’t keep them – or respond to their issues, I can think of a dozen different social news sites, some that fit better into specific niche interests I have, I and people with my concerns can switch to.

  6. says: Calum Coburn

    Being a South African I admire people like Tamar who are the brave voice of so many of us top 100 users. I feel resigned not to invest much more into digg, and to investigate other social media sites like mixx – as Kevin is a teenager trapped in an adult body, love drunk on the prospect of making even more millions. Was it all too easy for him? It’s time for another revolt, this time led by us top 100 users.

  7. says: graywolf

    @lyndon damn gold star for that one baby!

    @tamar do you really think it can be salvaged I don’t, the problems are in the code, the philosophy, the users, it’s infected the system so much it’s part of the system. It would collapse without it.

  8. There are still good users there. There are also bad users. They obviously needed to open up (hence the recent images section and taxonomy updates) to appeal to non-techies too. But Digg has made changes people don’t like, and they could make substantial changes that people do like if they actually cared about the people. That’s where they fail because they leave no indication that they care about the users. They only care about the money.

  9. Patrick, you do realize who was banned, right? If not, as far as I can discern, they weren’t spammers. I’ve Dugg both users before, and I honestly only found out about both users AFTER the fact. I guess they specifically sought me out because of my past criticisms about Digg. Apparently, nobody else is vocal enough.

  10. says: Doug

    I have been banned by Digg probably 4 times in the past few months. They never give me a good reason and it gets frustrating. I play by the rules and submit quality stories. I myself wrote a blog post to vent my anger here.

    My Blog post

  11. says: Kelly

    I don’t know what happened with emobrat’s account being banned, but the other user that was banned? From what I’ve heard, it’s a very sad and disturbing tale of a new user being taken advantage of by a veteran user…shenanigans coming off of the dark side of the IM network.

    I’ve also never understood digg banning first and asking questions later when it comes to established users. Why not fire off an email warning first? If not, at the very least respond to the user once it’s done.

    …and I agree with Dave above, the community is the strongest part of digg right now. As far as pure function, he site is almost impossible to use. Clicking on anything is a waiting game.

  12. Kelly: maybe you’ve heard something I haven’t. I’m in the IM network with said individual (as in, she has my screenname and we’ve talked many times) and she’s never IM’d me once to Digg her stories. But if Digg really is on a mission to ban people for IMing stories (which isn’t much different than shouting, imo), then I can give them a list with about 100 people who have done the same to me over the past few months (and no, I don’t know them, but they “found [my info] on Digg” or so I’m informed every time I get one of these IMs).

  13. says: Kelly

    Settle down there, tamar. I never said that user spammed anything. I’ve never seen her do it once either. She’s a solid user. I said she was taken advantage of….and pointed out that it her being banned was a direct result of the IM network at it’s worst.

  14. Kelly, I think you misconstrued my comment. I’m all settled. 😉

    I agree with you. I’m just saying in her defense (and if Digg is reading) that they blatantly screwed up. If they think it’s because of an IM network, they’re clearly wrong. But if Digg really wanted to get people for that reason, I’ve got the ammunition for plenty of other spammers who really do take advantage of it.

  15. says: Kelly

    haha…I’ve always liked the unsettled side of you actually. Aren’t we all more interesting and effective when we are a bit unsettled?

    I hope digg staff is reading this too, and I agree they screwed up. They’ll lose good users if they keep it up. Meanwhile, as you point out, there are so many other abuses that go unpunished and unresolved. For instance, I wish we could ban some of the digg staff for not fixing our site…while spending time on fluffy stuff like digg labs. Where is the sense of urgency?

  16. You know, I was just thinking about that. What’s up with that images lab update? Who cares?!

    This is why I think Digg is not being run effectively. Why allocate resources to fluffiness and not to the core problems? Obviously, Digg management sucks. That’s the bottom line. I think a 17 year old can run Digg better than Kevin and Jay and the powers that be can.

  17. says: SilentJay74

    HELLO TAMAR!!! Love the article! Words cannot express how much you hit the nail on head.
    I think Digg started going down hill when they brought in new advertisers. I think that they wanted Kevin and Digg to clean house a bit so these advertisers would not have to be linked to something they felt differently about. Digg has been going down hill. Another of my friends who was in the Digg Top 100 just received his ban this week. It’s is getting stupid over there. After Greg was tossed I had about had it with them.
    No matter what the Digg management thinks it still comes down to USER DRIVEN CONTENT! So if you guys at Digg think you are cleaning house, here is the truth, the house was fine, but you guys are polishing the turd.

  18. says: Jeff F.

    Tamar – Way to stick it to the man! I love your posts. Mainly because you always exploit the flaws…

    …Just remember, the squeeky wheel always gets the grease.

  19. Just a heads up to the 300 people who have IM’d me asking me “what did the two users do wrong [to get banned]?”

    Dudes, if I knew the answer to that question, do you think this blog post would be here?! 😉

  20. says: Vince

    Awesome post, Tamar! I have a similar situation with some of these banned users. I’m not in the top 100 or anything, but I digg anywhere from 50-100 stories per day and I have many of the top guys as mutual friends. My account, as of the last update (images) took a downward spiral…even though I was doing all the right things and submitting quality content, my stories rarely made it the upcoming section (even with some 20-50 diggs on the story with a 12 hour period). I did a little test and setup a new user (FYI: I have an anonymous browser when I surf, so it wasn’t on the same IP) and all I did was digg, digg, digg (no submissions). Within 2 days I had received a mutual friendship with 2 of the top diggers and I was stoked. On the 3rd day, my account was deleted. Why ban a user that only dugg stories that were upcoming or from top diggers? Oh, and it’s been a couple days now…and, unsurprisingly, no response to my emails about reinstating my account.

  21. Wow!

    For once I had some respect for Kevin Rose after what he did with that secret code thing. I almost thought he gave a damn for the community.

    As usual people corrupted by power and success. Just another brick in the wall.

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  23. says: 1389

    Never mind a seventeen-year-old doing a better job of running Digg than the current management. It’d work better than this if nobody were running it at all!

  24. Actually, 1389, I’d be inclined to agree, but I think that the lack of response from anyone in an authoritative position is what is most disappointing about how Digg is being operated. It already feels that nobody is running it. That’s what needs to change. The people who have a responsibility to answer support@digg.com emails should actually answer them instead of leaving them ignored. I don’t care if they’re unable to disclose whatever to whoever, but the fact that they even bother to answer will remove all the speculation and might actually show some maturity on their part.

    It’s interesting because I’m reading “Now is Gone” from Geoff Livingston and it’s all about how companies should be using new media to communicate with their “audience” (or more correctly stated, “communities”). Digg is a site that is built on the “new media” foundation, but yet it fails at actually communicating with the users. It’s irony at its best.

  25. says: knud


    I am working on a site which try to solve many of the problems with digg.com.
    You can find it on http://crowdnews.eu.

    The main problem with digg is the voting system.
    When only top voted stories get on the front page it has
    to be a subject that many can relate to,
    which result in stories with a low information content.

    Crowdnews solves this by using sharing instead of voting.
    Every have a personal news page on which they can subscribe to other users and when those users share stories they will appear on the personal news page.

    Join me on CrowdNews

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