There has been a lot of discussion recently about changes to Digg’s algorithm. While these changes have been subtle and complex, one noticable difference is the difficulty veteran users are having getting stories to the front page. Now, when I was new to Digg I was frustrated to see how many submissions by the so-called ‘top Digg users’ made the front page while newer users had to struggle to get enough votes. I’ve since become a more experienced Digg user and changed my mind about a number of things related to the site.
Still, today, I see the bigger picture and the algorithmic changes aren’t going to do what Digg wants – they aren’t going to give the newer or less frequent Digg users more of a chance, and here are some of the reasons why:
1) Veteran users get a lot of stories to the front page with good reason: they are trusted by others to submit top content from around the internet on a variety of subjects. This trust is built up over time. It is only natural that users who submit and participate more will have higher quality submissions worthy of the front page.
2) Spammers can easily fill the void when veteran Digger submissions can no longer rise to the top. In fact, they can do so with much less effort since their submissions require fewer votes to succeed.
3) With blocks to top Diggers they are forced to result to the same tactics spammers use: mass shouting, begging for Diggs, submitting only the craziest and most offbeat content. This simultaneously lowers the bar on quality content while also forcing quality users to work harder and arguably less ethically to get good content to the front page of Digg.
At the end of the day, we have seen the introduction of shouts and algorithm changes that have resulted in more and more poor content reaching the front page of Digg. Worse yet, quality submitters like CosmikDebris (who specializes in scientific and space-related links) suffer from low frontpage ratios because their content – while very interesting, newsworthy and educational simply isn’t sensational enough to compete with shout-spammers who focus primarily on offbeat news. This isn’t about top Diggers having their egos bruised, it is about people who invest time and effort to bring good content to all Digg users having their hands tied and about the mainstream everyday Digg reader seeing worse and worse stories on the front page.
There are of course other issues at hand right now and many of them are longstanding. The infamous autobury list remains in full effect and Digg’s creators remain in full denial despite the overwhelming evidence (it kind of reminds me of creationists denying fossils). Top users still remain banned for unknown reasons. Many other users have simply left Digg because of all of the uproar. Digg’s Alexa stats are suffering and frankly if they don’t work out a serious overhaul soon they will be vulnerable when the Next Big Thing comes along.