How Digg Users Got It Wrong And Missed Out

This is the story of how a few digg users got it wrong, and the rest of the digg community missed out as a result.

As a Marketing Manager it’s not often you get the chance to genuinely give something worth $29.95 away for free to as many people as you can. That’s exactly what I was asked to do when told that 99designs were officially sponsoring a 30 day giveaway of our Photoshop Anthology.

This unique way of giving our high quality book content away for free has always appealed to me, so off to build our campaign I went.

  • Landing page — check
  • Download process — done
  • Site promotion — ready
  • Email campaign — loaded

Just before we hit that big green GO button, a colleague suggested that we should place a digg button on the landing page — digg users will go nuts! A sound theory… or so we thought.

With our “digg this” button at the ready, the campaign kicked into life. Our servers initially groaned “Oh no, not again!” but thankfully we had the page hosted on Amazon’s S3 servers, which grew as traffic increased, and held up to the challenge.

Then the diggs started rolling in! 2, 3, 4… 30 in the first hour. Traffic continued to build… but then a few comments started appearing on digg. Lots of comments along the lines of “This is great, thanks!” which is always nice to hear..

But then there was this one:

“It’s a trap. When you download it runs a validation check to see if you are running
a pirated version of photoshop…. You will recieve a fine for $500”

Huh? Surely he’s kidding?

Of course this is nonsense. But it doesn’t matter — in the blink of an eye we’ve been buried on digg.

So anyone else in the digg community who might be interested in a full, print-quality Photoshop book — sorry, you miss out. All because some goose decided to throw around some unsubstantiated claim about the legitimacy of our giveaway. What’s worse is that everyone believed him!

So what’s the lesson here?

Well, it’s obviously getting harder and harder to give something away for free these days. People are so focused on the ”What’s the catch?” that when there is none (okay maybe there are a couple of ads in the PDF), they look for one. Then, when all else fails, they just make something up.

digg aside, I’m far from disheartened — this unique way of bringing high quality content to an audience through corporate sponsorship still has great potential in my eyes.

And as for the rest of the campaign, so far it’s been a great success. First week in and we’ve already given away over 6 terabytes worth of PDFs, and our sponsors are very happy with the result. But to all you digg users, you’ve really got to learn when to appreciate a genuine freebie, or you’ll miss out!

(By the way, if you haven’t grabbed your free PDF yet, here’s the link.)

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  • Ruben K.

    amazing

  • Rikki

    Never been a fan of digg, props to SP for the giveaway and their sponsor!

  • lauriek

    Far too many idiots over at Digg, that’s why I stopped bothering with it! Thanks for the free book!! :)

  • http://www.studio-gecko.com/ XLCowBoy

    I smell a conspiracy!

  • http://www.infofuzz.com ErnestHemingway

    I would like to know
    why you guys didnt reply back to the guy
    to clarify things.
    I mean if they read his comments they will read yours.
    I do not see any trouble there, I think the person who submitted the digg should have clarified it.

    But thats how Digg works
    u cant expect everything to go frontpage.
    and unless its some big news you bet they wontlet u hit frontpage
    just bcoz ur giving freebies.

  • Thirteenva

    I think that shayne and possibly sitepoint as a whole missed the bigger issue here. You’re blaming the one misleading statement that was posted and are ignoring the reason the misleading statement was effective at killing your campaign. Designers are wrongfully stealing software from which they make their living.

    Designers really did miss out on a good deal, this is true, but not because of one bad apple who posted nonsense… and you should have taken this opportunity to explain that, and point out that designers making a living on commercial software should certainly be paying for it.

  • http://www.geekgirlstl.com sjhapke

    @Thirteenva – While I agree with your statement, I think that the current pricing of Photoshop and other such programs adds to the problem of piracy. I am a one-person shop who cannot afford to purchase Photoshop. So I make do with what I can afford and what I already have.

    I do not condone piracy in any way (although I can’t say this has always been my position – youthful indescretion), so the high price factor is not an excuse. As I have found, there are other alternatives, maybe not as polished and professional as Photoshop, but at least legal, and until such time that I can afford Photoshop.

  • Byron

    Why did you give up so easily? one bad comment? big deal bury the commenter and get on with it.

  • http://www.magain.com/ mattymcg

    @Thirteenva The story that was submitted was nothing to do with piracy of software. Yes, the reason the story failed to gain traction was because of that one misleading comment. Before then it was receiving diggs left, right and centre. After that comment, it didn’t just stop receiving diggs, it got *buried*. This blog post is about digg and how people use it, not about software piracy.

    Who’s to say that the commenter had an anti-piracy agenda? Perhaps he was just anti-SitePoint. Weighing in with some anti-piracy rhetoric, regardless of whether we believe in it (we do), would have achieved absolutely nothing.

  • velocd

    The article presenting like an ad is probably more relevant to why Diggers buried it. Articles masked as ads usually don’t sit well with Diggers.

  • http://www.mikehealy.com.au cranial-bore

    If Sitepoint had responded with a condemnation of pirated software it would have given weight to the rumour that the PDF did have such a check in place (though if the legitimacy of Adobe software could be checked by Adobe PDFs then I think Adobe would be more likely to implement such a thing!)

    Yes, the internet is not the place to find fact-checked statements. The way comments on Digg or YouTube descend into primary school style attacks (to one another) is remarkable.

  • http://www.jtresidder.com/ jtresidder

    Thirteenva: I would appear to be missing the bigger picture too – I can’t for the life of me see how piracy of software could have anything to do with the consenting giveaway of a book about that software?

  • Brent

    And that’s why I don’t like Digg!

  • Desmond Kerk

    I agree with mattmcg.

    Though a clarification could have been posted, why was that post containing the accusation not asked for verification? Where were the mods? If someone at Sitepoint posts an offer and I’m anti-Sitepoint, all I have to do is post something malicious I came up with in my head and it’s all over. Or buried, in this case.

    The guys at Digg need to be a lot more strict. It’s not the first time unfounded rumors have been thrown around as facts.

  • Andy Spark

    I cannot believe that you made a blog post which is effectively a hissy fit about not hitting the front page.

    I’m sure that people can live without your cheap products. Most people who use Digg aren’t that tech savvy. They’re just geeks who like weed, films and law enforcement gone wrong. Geeks, not all web geeks.

    And even if they are a web geek, chances are they have their own big collection of ebooks, tutorials and articles to get information from.

    Yes, the ebook is a good idea. But your promotion of it through Digg was half-hearted, to say the least, but holding your hopes on it? Stupid.

    It’s half chance whether the public will like any story on a given day and if it’s a boring landing page for an ebook that seemingly needs a Digg campaign to sell it for them? Who the hell would digg that?

    PS – That comment (or a variation of it) is thrown up on every single page submitted to Digg, by the way. They’re called trolls. If you want to professionally run a site without looking like a toddler having a strop, get used to them. And don’t blame them for a submission not hitting the front page of Digg. There’s tons of articles with plenty of unfair claims that hit the top every single hour.

  • http://www.sitepoint.com ShayneTilley

    Thanks for your comprehensive comments Andy. This was never about not hitting the front page of digg, it was more that we were buried for an unjustified reason.

    As my post also suggests, given that the digg button was a last minute , I was far from holding my hopes on hitting the front page. It would have been nice, but not essential. With our other promotion we had widespread coverage in a matter of days and some of our biggest traffic numbers of all time.

  • Justen

    The whole trend of posting comments on downloads claiming they have a virus or some other sneaky hidden code is getting really old. You see this on torrent sites constantly (legitimate software or not!). To the point where some great apps and information gets left for dead by the roadside. Who does this kind of thing anyway? It has to be about the lamest form of internet griefing ever.

    “Hur hur hur it has a virus lulz!”

    You’d have to be retarded to believe a PDF book can execute validation code anyway :/

  • Charlie

    Well that’s what the thumbs up/down are there for. Just digg the comment and everyone happy.