All not Kevin Rose-y in Digg's new Digg

Digg.com is a tricky one. It’s been one of the most popular ways on the web to share links, a user submitted aggregator that in recent years decides what’s going to be popular on the web and what’s not. Recently it relaunched and there’s been a major shift in style, and the Diggers, they are revolting.

The question is – wasn’t Digg originally set up as a way to place links between friends? Its new shift seems like it’s heading back to its original mission, but the problem is Digg took off in a huge way when it became something it was never meant to be. There’s a seasonal blip each September as the kidz head to college where Digg often gains new users, but this time round, following the relaunch, Reddit’s top dog – it’s where all the old Diggers headed off to.

Anyone familiar with Digg will know about ‘gaming’ of stories – intentionally working behind the scenes to manipulate websites into hitting the front page. Though the beardies behind the code have some secret sauce used that Digg keeps under wraps to weigh submissions it has not been transparent on how it works. The relaunch could be seen as a way to further combat ‘gaming’. 

There are reports around of the Reddit invasion that hit Digg. About five of the top ten diggs yesterday were stories originating from Reddit. We thought we’d talk to a social media boffin, a real life does-it-for-a-living one, who requested not to be named. She told TechEye:

“People don’t like being herded in such an arbitrary way. If you are going to herd, you have to do it without them realising they are being herded. I think the community just spoke out – they hated the new Digg and went somewhere that they could use free discovery better.

“Reddit and old Digg were grazing sites – the new Digg doesn’t want you to graze. So the community pushed back and re-educated Digg. Even though they couldn’t change the way the site works, it does send a pretty strong message to Digg. They would be foolish not to listen, but that will be the fun thing to watch.”

But what was Digg intended to be in the first place?

“I don’t think it was ever intended to be as gamed as it ended up being. It was a site that was set up so a group of friends could share links, but it grew, was games, so they brought the fancy maths in. Essentially now you can only see the people you have subscribed to and that’s the main problem – grazers of the internet will hate that.”

If Digg migrates to Reddit, won’t the gaming issue just begin applying to Reddit as well?

“Reddit is much more transparent than the steps Kevin Rose has put in place to keep an eye on weighing submissions. The community is much harsher as well – if they think a submission is being gamed, they will actively make a new submission calling for the original to be down voted. Now if the new users come in to try to overwhelm that practice, that’s where the fun starts. But I think, at the moment, Reddit and its community are strong enough to withstand that.

“I think Reddit appeals to a lot of people because it’s simple and quite transparent. It’s almost like the subculture of Digg. Recently the guy who owns LOLcats, Ben Huh, made a bid to buy Reddit from Conde Nast. It would be a better fit – Conde Nast owning Reddit reminds me of John Belushi in the Blues Brothers at the posh restaurant trying to buy children.”

Our social media expert assures us that she does not work for Reddit, Conde Nast or Ben Huh. However she is available for birthdays and Bar Mitzvahs.