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Despite being one of the oldest and most successful social networking sites, Digg has lost ground to Facebook and Twitter during the past few years. Perhaps it’s not surprising: Digg has a more limited scope and is primarily a link sharing and content review site. Internal political struggles, high-profile staff resignations, domination by overly-powerful users, and a sedate development schedule haven’t helped either.

Digg 4 is the first major update since 2006 and it’s currently available as an alpha to several thousand users at new.digg.com (you can request an invite). The redesign focuses on 3 main areas:

Speed
All operations should be completed in under a second — a major relief from the lengthy “We’re digging through your submission” process.

I’m pleased to report that adding links — the core Digg activity — is significantly faster and easier. An Ajax-powered “Submit a link” box is available throughout the site and there’s no CAPTCHA or other checks which get in the way.

Personalization
A new “My News” page provides the latest stories from people and organizations you follow.

Digg My News

Diversity of Content
Digg 4 offers better integration with other systems. For example, you can add your own RSS feed and have stories auto-Dugg. You can also import friends and share links on Twitter, Facebook, and Google.

There’s no doubt Digg 4 offers a more attractive, slicker, and pleasant experience. It’ll please existing users but I’m less certain it will attract new users or prompt infrequent visitors to return on a regular basis. The web has evolved and Digg faces stiff competition from more established news aggregators and better tools to manage your Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Are you using Digg? Have you recently abandoned the service? Have you tried Digg 4? Will it appeal to new users? Comments welcome…