Digg is dead. It isn’t coming back. The current model is fine for some but the thought of using the site to drive traffic, to get a sense of accomplishment for submitting front page stories, or of getting some strong interaction from the comments have switched to be the duty of Reddit. The new Digg is just a normal website with some cool features. It isn’t special.
Update 2: The site is back up and back to 20-minute update intervals.
Update: Digg sped back up to its normal pace for a little while, then went down completely. API calls and everything are currently down.
For over 12 hours, the Digg front page has moved at half speed. Instead of the normal 10-minute interval between updates, stories have remained at the top of the front page for 20 minutes.
When Digg first rolled out “Staff Picks” late last year, I was extremely excited. Here was an opportunity for Digg to use their front page real estate to highlight stories that were not getting the traction that they would be able to get on other social news sites like Reddit or StumbleUpon where quality matters more than promotion. I thought, “Now, let’s get some unique, viral material on the front page.”
I was wrong. It has proven to be a wasted ploy to try to get the attention of sites that not only don’t need the traffic but who consider Digg a minor blip on their radar (if they even consider them that anymore).
Over the last week there has been a lot of criticism aimed at Digg.com and some of the publisher accounts and celebrities who are getting their news to the Top News section of Digg ahead of higher-quality content. Leo Laporte has been at the center of much of the criticism as his Google Buzz updates and podcasts have flooded the front page over the last week.
Mr Laporte, I owe you some kudos.
Today, Laporte switched his feeds of podcasts and Google activity to his Delicious feed. While this may not seem as natural as manual submissions, it’s a huge step in the right direction as he must actively bookmark stories to his Delicious account for them to appear on the page.
In other words, he is manually vetting and selecting stories that he finds interesting rather than feeding everything that Leo likes about Leo.
The result? A digging and submitting pattern much closer and more manual than anything other major recommended accounts are doing. Did Leo Laporte just go from public enemy #2 (sorry, Reddit is still #1) to hopefully the trendsetter that other major accounts should follow? We’ll see soon enough.
If you’re a publisher who doesn’t hate the New Digg, chances are you’re already getting enough traffic to where a Digg front page is barely a blip on your radar. You’re being rewarded for being huge. Digg needs you more than you need Digg.
Sadly, that’s where Digg has gone.
The fact that Digg has been mostly a failure from a business perspective over the last 5 years prompted the dramatic and (almost) universally hated version 4. The idea was to put the power that Digg wields (for now) into the hands of the big publishers. If you generate tremendous traffic, you’re Digg’s new best friend and will have the best opportunity to be rewarded with more traffic.
It’s just business. It’s nothing personal. Digg was born based upon Kevin Rose’s desire to “give the power to the people.” Unfortunately for Digg, “the people” were AdBlock+ using cynics who scoff at attempts by websites to make money. It’s not an insult to the Digg community. It’s simply the truth.
Firefox and AdBlock+ are used on Digg more than most sites. Statistics show that over 50% of the Digg community is using Firefox and likely AdBlock+, a revenue-killer that has hurt tech sites for the last couple of years.
Believe it or not, it makes sense for Digg to appeal to major publishers. Digg has been the sender of traffic for years. Why not be the recipient? That was the premise.
The problem (which will hopefully be fixed this week) is that Digg users generally do not like their content to be auto-submitted. The idea of human curation is the premise upon which Digg was built. Things become popular because the right submitter found the content and the community liked it.
That isn’t the case with the new Digg.
*** UPDATE: Digg is back up, now ***
After reports yesterday that Digg has ceased taking new registrants and speculation that Digg v4 was on its way, the site went down today with an error.
In past instances of planned an even unplanned outages, Digg has always put up a “be back soon” page with links to other sites. As of now, that is not the case. Instead, it’s showing an error that reads, “Http/1.1 Internal Server Error 11″.
A source at Digg confirmed yesterday that the New Digg would not be going live this weekend so it is likely some sort of unforeseen error associated with testing or migration.