digg: anti-social software?

Matthew Magain

It seems that digg, the popular tech news site that relies on its community to promote links to its front page, is somewhat ruthless in its tolerance for other types of communities, in particular forums.

Forum administrators beware! Apparently if someone on a forum starts a thread that says “digg my link and I’ll digg yours”, the domain for that forum is likely to be banned by digg. That’s right: no warning, no request to remove the thread. Just banned. And without any warning that this might happen in their Terms of Service.

Is this reasonable in your view? Or should the domain being dugg be the one that is banned? Should forum moderators perhaps be given a grace period to remove the thread? And if so, how long should that grace period be?

Thoughts?

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  • Smartass

    digg this hehehe

  • CasualNerd

    Maybe forum owners will simply filter out digg keywords so it can’t happen, but that certainly won’t benefit digg.

    I guess it’s like SEO, everyone’s hungry for the traffic and if they don’t have the quality content they’ll try black hat techniques. Digg should rightly try to protect their ranking method or it will become worthless.

  • http://www.sitepoint.com Mark Harbottle

    Digg will become worthless if popular sites like sitepoint.com are banned because a couple of people in our forums try to get around the digg ranking system. It’s impossible to police even if we wanted to. Users of digg will end up losing in the end – eventually the big content-based sites with vibrant communities will end up being banned and won’t be represented on digg.

  • http://www.sitepoint.com/ craiga

    I thought the point of Digg was that their users filtered out the spam by using the site. Either they don’t need this kind of moderation, or the idea just doesn’t work.

  • http://www.virtualpetlist.com/forums/ cpvr

    And that’s exactly why Digg sucks.

  • lamejoker

    I guess they are digging a hole for themselves…
    wahahahahahaahahahaahaa… :D

  • http://www.favpage.com Digitalman

    Hope no one starts playing digg bowling.

  • ME

    Here’s a tidbit. One of the bigger sites on the NEt…Blogcritics.org, got banned from DIGG for what they called a “guerilla warfare” promotion campaign.

    What they did, they presented a chosen story to several of these big sites, DIGG, Reddit, etc. Then all of the other Blogcritics were given a link to go vote for the story.

    There was a problem with one of the chosen posts and not only was Blogcritics as a site banned, EVERY ONE WHO VOTED FOR THEIR LINKS WAS BANNED!

    There was a brouhaha over it at Blogcritics. I had to beg and plead to get restored to DIGG and at that it took me several tries.

    Lots of posters at Blogcritics quit over the mess, including me.

    DIGG has a right to run their operations the way they see fit. It would have been no problem to simply nominate a deserving Blogcritics story and let it rise or fall on its own merit. That bit about having the group “vote” to ram the story up the DIGG ranks was a bit underhanded.

    Yeah, I participated in the scheme.

    I’m not proud of it.

  • Pingback: boyohazard.net » Blog Archive » Digg-ing their own grave?

  • Mr. B

    No, I agree with Digg on this one. It’s supposed to be a news site, not another way for anybody with any sort of website to promote themselves.

    Besides, this article seems slanted:

    Apparently if someone on a forum starts a thread that says “digg my link and I’ll digg yours”, the domain for that forum is likely to be banned by digg.

    “Apparently” doesn’t make me think that this is happening in every case and “is likely” tells me the same thing.

    If something comes up that digg users really don’t like, they’ll blast it.

  • Buddha443556

    Is this reasonable in your view?

    Yes, it’s their site. Is it the best solution? Well, that’s debatable.

    For example, if Sitepoint was banned that wouldn’t stop others from linking to Sitepoint content or blogging about Sitepoint content. In a way, Sitepoint cound still be indirectly in Digg – even if banned. Not much Digg can do about that. However, if the site banned is nothing more than spam then would anyone even link to it or blog about it?

    I don’t see the problem unless you don’t have any content worth discussing.

  • http://www.sitepoint.com Matthew Magain

    “Apparently” doesn’t make me think that this is happening in every case and “is likely” tells me the same thing.

    I should have used less ambiguous language. It’s our experience that this is what happens, which is why the warning to other forum owners. I haven’t spoken to every other forum owner on the Internet, so I can’t speak for their experiences, and like I mentioned, digg fail to make it clear in their TOS that this is their policy, but it’s what happens.

    If something comes up that digg users really don’t like, they’ll blast it.

    Exactly, so why does the forum need to be banned? It seems these digg exchange threads don’t work anyway, for this very reason. If you’re going to have a system for promoting or demoting stories that is robust enough to see through the charlatans, why mess with it and limit your own content as a result?

    For example, if Sitepoint was banned that wouldn’t stop others from linking to Sitepoint content

    It would, actually, from digg anyway. That’s the problem. Unless you’re suggesting a link from the comments, which is hardly the same level of involvement as it would require the story to coincidentally be related or the comment to be off topic. Or a link from somone’s blog, which is a completely unrelated topic to this discussion.

    if the site banned is nothing more than spam then would anyone even link to it or blog about it?

    The type of site being promoted is irrelevant. The issue here is where it’s being promoted, how, who should be punished and how that should happen. If something is spam, it won’t get dugg or will get buried instantly, regardless of whether some hopeful has a thread trying to get it to the front page by “trading” diggs.

    I would question a system that relies on banning entire domains at the drop of a hat to keep its non-hierarchical editorial process working. The hard-working moderators on SitePoint’s forums (and no doubt other forums) do their best to remove “digg exchange” links as soon as they appear. But for digg, this reactive approach isn’t good enough.

  • Buddha443556

    … and like I mentioned, digg fail to make it clear in their TOS that this is their policy, but it’s what happens.

    What does Digg’s TOS have to do with Sitepoint or any other site? The Digg’s TOS are between Digg and it’s users. Would banning a site even fall under the TOS between Digg and it’s user?

    Digg may remove any Content and Digg accounts at any time for any reason (including, but not limited to, upon receipt of claims or allegations from third parties or authorities relating to such Content), or for no reason at all. To report Terms of Use abuse, please email: abuse AT digg.com

    From: http://digg.com/tos/

    Maybe it does. I would think that term there would cover any link on Digg.

    I would question a system that relies on banning entire domains at the drop of a hat to keep its non-hierarchical editorial process working. The hard-working moderators on SitePoint’s forums (and no doubt other forums) do their best to remove “digg exchange” links as soon as they appear. But for digg, this reactive approach isn’t good enough.

    This is like questioning weather Google has the right to ban sites from it’s search engine. It’s their content.

  • http://www.sitepoint.com Mark Harbottle

    I don’t think many of you understand the point. Digg have the right to do whatever they want, we agree, and we’re totally fine with that. If we’re banned, so be it, we’re not going to lose any sleep. However, to use the google example it would be like google banning *your* site because someone else (an unrelated site) linked to you in a way that google deemed inappropriate. See what we’re saying? They should be either banning the users who actually abuse the system in the first place, or better still let the community of digg users sort out what’s spam and what’s quality content, which I would have thought is what digg is all about.

  • Lucy Ling Ling Want Some More

    Give me a shovel and i’ll dig. Geez that’s a bad joke.

  • Mr. B

    I’d agree with the fact that people are missing the point on this. If you post something in digg from this site or any other that isn’t what users consider worthwhile – it won’t get dugg. Simple as that. I’ve seen forums in there before because they have good, interesting information. There are many items of interest posted there every day and it sounds like this article is pure conjecture. Maybe a little more research should be done.

    Besides, “digg my site and I’ll digg yours” definitely isn’t the kind of thing that users of that site are looking for, in most cases.

  • http://www.intereactive.net TheTank

    I think the other thing to note is that Digg is still very new and has grown at one of the fastest rates I’ve ever seen a website grow. That much growth, that fast wil produce some errors in logic from time to time. Digg is a great resourse for tech news and the answer is to not stop using Digg. The answer is to give feedback to the owners/developers. Kevin and Alex are smart guys and they know the benefit of forums as much as the rest of us.

    This is no different than the crappy comment system they used to have. Now that they have revamped it, it is really nice. It called growth.

    As to the mindless “digg a hole” comments… good grief.

  • andre75

    I don’t get it. That would mean that I start this kind of thread on a competitors forum and zap they are gone?

  • http://www.sitepoint.com Matthew Magain

    …it sounds like this article is pure conjecture. Maybe a little more research should be done.

    Hi Mr.B. SitePoint being banned twice by digg and us having to plead and promise was about all the research I was prepared to do. Maybe I should have signed up at several forums and see if I could get them banned???

    Kevin and Alex are smart guys and they know the benefit of forums as much as the rest of us.

    I certainly need more convincing of this!

    That would mean that I start this kind of thread on a competitors forum and zap they are gone?

    In terms of new threads being able to be submitted to digg, that’s pretty much it yes.

  • Scott Allen

    I understand their motivation, but really… how different is this from a blog having a “digg this” link at the bottom?

  • http://www.sitepoint.com Matthew Magain

    how different is this from a blog having a “digg this” link at the bottom?

    It is different – making it dead easy to vote for something is quite separate from using votes as currency to trade and exchange in an attempt to influence the system. But if the system has to blacklist domains without any consideration in order to survive, it’s a flaky system.

  • Mr. B

    Matthew, it really just sounds like you’re biased because you’re a bit angry about two instances that there have been issues. If you were doing the “digg my site and I’ll digg yours” pitch, you’re not going to last. Many of the people who do that don’t have something worthwhile to show you, and the users there will make sure that you know they’re aware of it. Either way, if you’re doing something like this, I can’t say I blame them for booting you. They’re geared toward news, not website promotion. If you want to unveil your site, use a PR service.

  • http://www.sitepoint.com Matthew Magain

    If you were doing the “digg my site and I’ll digg yours” pitch, you’re not going to last … if you’re doing something like this, I can’t say I blame them for booting you

    Hi Mr B. Allow me to remove those words that you put into my mouth. I certainly don’t advocate people trying to game digg’s voting system, and have put in plenty of time on our own forums removing “digg exchange” threads whenever they appear. I also agree that digg accounts trying this approach to promote sites should be terminated.

    Forget our experiences with SitePoint for a minute. To reiterate, my question is whether the domain that thread was started on should be banned. I could start a “digg me” thread in the comments of your “tech news” blog, for instance, and it would likely be banned. You could remove the comment, but it may be too late. Now, no more of your tech news stories are able to be submitted to digg. This hurts the tech news site and it hurts digg.

    Many of the people who do that don’t have something worthwhile to show you, and the users there will make sure that you know they’re aware of it

    This is my point exactly. The users. If the system works, why block the domain where the thread was begun?

  • Buddha443556

    To reiterate, my question is whether the domain that thread was started on should be banned.

    It’s the domain’s content and the domain is ultimately responsible for the content.

    I certainly don’t advocate people trying to game digg’s voting system, and have put in plenty of time on our own forums removing “digg exchange” threads whenever they appear.

    If you’re spending so much time removing these threads then it seems you haven’t made it clear to the SitePoint members such threads are not allowed. (Before this blog I had no idea this was a problem at Sitepoint but admittedly I stick to the programming area.)I did find a thread, “digg.com“, that states the the no “Digg Exchange” rule in General Chat. That thread needs a better title. Why isn’t there warnings all over the forums about this no “Digg Exchange” rule? Has Sitepoint banned anyone for posting such threads? No offense, but Sitepoint doesn’t seem to have done much to stop this problem or even make the members aware of it. I think most members would be happy to see “Digg Exchange” such threads disappear.

    Just seems that Sitepoint could be doing more on there end to fix the problem.

  • http://www.sitepoint.com Matthew Magain

    No offense, but Sitepoint doesn’t seem to have done much to stop this problem or even make the members aware of it.

    No offense taken. Not surprisingly, I don’t agree with you, but I’m glad someone responded on topic with some constructive criticism rather than misinterpreting my post and crying “screw you guys digg can do what they want”.

    In addition to removing threads, posting the sticky note that you linked to, and notifying moderators to be on the lookout, digg is also now a four-letter word that gets filtered out in the forums. No, there are no users that have been banned but there have been final warnings. And there have been no threads since these measures have been put in place that I’m aware of, so actually, I think that we are doing enough.

    Believe it or not, digg is not the centre of the universe and with over 100,000 members we don’t have the time nor inclination to be monitoring every thread in every forum just to keep the digg watch team happy. If you have any other suggestions for what else you think we should be doing, the Support and Feedback forum is probably the best place.

    The point of this post, though, was that we shouldn’t have to put all these measures in place because the “wisdom of the crowd” is supposedly reliable enough to filter the good from the crap. And if it can’t, it’s not a good source of news.

  • Buddha443556

    The point of this post, though, was that we shouldn’t have to put all these measures in place because the “wisdom of the crowd” is supposedly reliable enough to filter the good from the crap.

    Any system can be abused especially those systems with hundreds of thousands of users and open membership.

  • ringobob

    It’s the domain’s content and the domain is ultimately responsible for the content.

    so… someone could post such a statement in the comments on digg, and it would have to ban itself (obviously a hypothetical as there would be no point to digging digg)? Forums and other user submitted content is inherently different from other types centrally controlled content. Digg should be aware of that more than most, as their whole site is essentially a specialized forum with strict restrictions on content format, but little control over content substance.

    I’m of the opinion that if they need to ban sites, it puts the lie to their “non-hierarchical editorial control” that they espouse on their front page. I’m also of the opinion that they would do much more to discourage people seeking reciprocal diggs if they actually punished those people, rather than banning the site they posted on, a move the poster may not even be aware of.

    I do see the logic they are using in their current system… ban the site hosting the request, and thus try to get that site to do the police work for them… but it’s ill conceived and will do more to produce a backlash and hurt their own content, especially considering that the people posting the request are likely doing so on a popular and well respected site because, well, that’s where they’re most likely to find other people.

  • http://www.sitepoint.com Matthew Magain

    It’s the domain’s content and the domain is ultimately responsible for the content.

    Any system can be abused especially those systems with hundreds of thousands of users and open membership.

    Right. So you’re prepared to cut the digg admins some slack because they have lots of members, but not forum admins?

    Edit: I was probably jumping to conclusions with the assumption that Buddha intended his second statement to only apply to digg. Yes, I agree, any system based on a community is open to abuse. We do our best!

  • Mr. B

    I think you’re making too big of a deal of this. Again, “apparently” and “might happen” doesn’t mean it’s set in stone. I really think you need to do a little more research into this before saying this is absolutely the way it is.

    The thing to remember – worst case scenario, not showing up in Digg for one reason or another isn’t the end of the world. There are other ways to promote your website without being dugg. So I’ll take the words you put in my mouth this time and cry “screw you guys, digg can do what they want”.

  • http://www.sitepoint.com Matthew Magain

    So I’ll take the words you put in my mouth this time and cry “screw you guys, digg can do what they want”

    Ha ha, touche! :-)

  • Anonymous

    Here is another story about a blocked technology blog

  • devnet

    There’s many links on this subject…with proof.

    http://linux-blog.org/index.php?/archives/134-The-Dirt-on-Suspicious-Digging-at-Digg.com….html

  • Anonymous

    It’s natural if someone digg your story, you can even digg their story especially if you find that story has some useful content, but soliciting openly to “digg my link and I’ll digg yours” seems not good to me.

  • etechsupport

    Oops! I forget to login, my above post goes Anonymous.

  • allsux

    if you still think digg doesn’t suck, check out this crazy story about digg administrator censorship at: http://allsux.com