Kevin Rose

A couple updates…

Hey everyone -

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted and I wanted to get the New Year underway by clearing up a couple of perceptions that have arisen around attempts to manipulate (game) the listing of home page stories on Digg.

Since the early days of the site, we’ve known that people try to game Digg, and since the beginning, we’ve developed tools to prevent it. It’s obvious to us that this is just a normal dynamic of a growing site and is similar to what sites like Google, Yahoo! and hundreds of other sites have been dealing with for years. But in the last several weeks the noise around this topic has grown and so I wanted to post and explain our position on some of this and some upcoming changes.

Typically, we see reports of attempts to manipulate Digg through a few techniques, such as organized sites (spikethevote etc.), a company or individual site attempting to pay top Diggers, and groups of users banding together to digg or bury stories.

Have people tried to do these things? Of course…and we expect this to happen. We’re not surprised that with the gaining popularity of Digg there would be some that would try to manipulate the system for a variety of reasons. The number of users engaging in this behavior has been minuscule in relation to the overall size of the Digg community, but the idea of this behavior will always make for controversial press/blog posts.

We strongly believe attempts to game Digg are ineffective. While it would be foolish to say that Digg has never been artificially manipulated in the 2+ years (50,000,000+ diggs) we’ve been live, we’re confident that such attempts do not impact the content that reaches the home page. We work hard every day to develop tools and systems that guard against this behavior. Whether someone is paid or chooses to try to “break” Digg, it’s irrelevant– our systems can tell when it’s happening. Stories reach the home page only when enough legitimate users have put them there. Even if someone were paid to submit or digg a story that reached the home page, what many don’t realize is the combination of factors that ultimately led to that story getting there. The factors and the algorithm are constantly being tweaked to reflect the diversity of the Digg audience as well as to guard against manipulative behavior. At the end of the day, we work constantly to ensure that the broader Digg community gets to decide what makes it to the home page.

Besides the technology and algorithms we maintain, our strongest tool in this effort remains our community. I’m constantly amazed and grateful to the 99.9% of our users who want to make Digg a better place by contributing great content, digging and burying stories, and alerting us to behavior that seems out of the ordinary.

Which leads me to a disappointing trend that we’ve noticed over the past several months. Some of our top users – the people that have spent hundreds if not thousands of hours finding and digging the best stuff – are being blamed by some outlets as leading efforts to manipulate Digg. These users have been listed on the “Top Diggers” area of the site that was created in the early days of Digg when there was a strong focus on encouraging people to submit content. The list served a great purpose of recognizing those who were working hard to make Digg a great site, as well as a way for new users to discover new content. Now, as the site has matured and we regularly get 5,000+ content submissions per day, we believe there are better ways to discover new friends based on your interests and what you’re digging. So if you have been digging stories about digital cameras and Oolong tea, you will be introduced to other top users with those interests.

So what does this all mean? After considerable internal debate and discussion with many of those who make up the Top Digger list, we’ve decided to remove the list beginning tomorrow. As for what’s next, we’re currently working on designing and refining the technologies required that will help enable our nearly 900,000 registered users to make real connections that we believe will greatly enhance the Digg experience – whether you’re brand new to the site or have been on Digg since the beginning. We plan on rolling this out in the coming months along with features and programs that do a better job of rewarding positive contributions to the Digg community.

Thanks for listening.

Digg On,