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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Digg Updates Algorithm - Digg Community Revolts

Two days ago, Digg went down for a short while while changes were being implemented in the system. While nothing was immediately apparent, Brent Csutoras noticed some slight changes, and after several hours, a bigger trend emerged: the algorithm had changed and you needed a lot more votes to hit the front page of Digg. Brent says:

At 5:12 pm PST, about 7 1/2 hours after Babblin5 submitted the post Two Diggs One Cup made it to the front page of digg. It took 156 diggs with 33 comments for the article to make it, something it would have taken less than 100 to do a week ago.

In response, Kevin Rose used the Digg Blog to announce that yes, Digg implemented a recent algorithm change. Immediately, the Digg community reacted strongly to these changes. Digg's "unofficial" podcast, The Drill Down, which is led by the the top three Digg submitters, went into emergency mode on Ustream and people began offering their thoughts on the implications of the change. The top users were ready to propose that nobody use Digg at least until Monday.

The involvement on the podcast was so strong that it ultimately came to the attention of Digg founder Kevin Rose and its CEO, Jay Adelson. Both called in late at night (11PM Pacific, 2AM Eastern) to voice their reasoning behind the changes and to address other user complaints. I ended up staying up nearly all night to "liveblog" the event and summarized the reactions of the Digg staff in a post entitled Kevin Rose and Jay Adelson Respond to Digg Complaints. The takeaways:

  • The Digg algorithm is still working itself out. We're not seeing what will be the norm on the site right now, but in a few days, we will.
  • Digg's algorithm has been implemented to get a diverse crowd to vote upon any specific story.
  • Digg is paving the road for a recommendation engine that will suggest stories for users to vote upon based on their past voting habits.
  • Users being banned from Digg was also a concern. Jay says that there are typically TOS violations that account for these bannings. Obviously, additional information is not available.
  • A concern also arose about an unspoken-about "autobury" list that would prevent certain domains from getting exposure on Digg's front page. Neither Jay nor Kevin explicitly denied the existence of such a list. The tools available at the present time capture only a fraction of user data and cannot accurately pinpoint whether a story has been buried or not.

While I appreciate that Kevin and Jay came out to talk to the community on such short notice, after my story was submitted to Digg, it got buried within an hour, which makes Digg's denial of the autobury feature still hard to believe. Meanwhile, two similar stories (that aren't nearly as in-depth) are still on Digg's upcoming list. Also, I've done my own observations using Digg Spy (Digg's tool that records user activity on the site) and it has never missed any of my frequent activity, so while it's believable that Digg Spy may not capture all data, it certainly does a pretty accurate job at capturing mine, and many people know that I'm a very heavy Digg user.

Is a Digg revolt still on the horizon? Quite possibly, yes. Concerns are still not being appropriately addressed. In the mass exodus that almost occurred, a Revoltnation website was erected to announce plans to revolt on Digg. Mashable and TechCrunch provide their own take.

Source: http://searchengineland.com/080124-094438.php

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