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Shoveling on Digg

Posted by: Rob Hof on November 25, 2006

As much as I like the idea of Digg—a site where a community chooses the most interesting or relevant news—I must confess that I just don’t use it that much. The reason became obvious once I started using Google Reader, which streams new RSS posts from all my chosen feeds as they come in. And in that context, most of the endless new posts on Digg look like junk, geek tabloid fare, or spam. I mean, I can imagine a post entitled Police Officer Tasered in Testicles in Training Accident (video included) might be entertaining in a Friday-night beer-bash sort of way, but when I’m working, I don’t need that in the way of real news. Even on Digg’s tech news page, headlines like Bored System Admin makes an arch from old Monitors aren’t doing much for me.

Apparently I’m not alone. Jeff Nolan says he’s done with Digg for much the same reason: “far too much crap.” In fact, Niall Kennedy thinks socially driven Web 2.0 sites are on the verge of becoming spam farms:

I believe social media accounts are currently available for rent or for sale, rewarding active users with paid placements or account resells in much the same way as a World of Warcraft character might be resold on eBay. Social media sites and search engines need to stay on top of this new form of content creation, continually analyzing data and scrubbing out the dirt. Sites overrun with web spam quickly lose their utility and might be banned from search engines.

Meanwhile, Techmeme, which doesn’t use the wisdom of crowds (or as I prefer, the power of us), instead driven by an algorithm that correlates links in a way I don’t yet understand, continues to draw me in many times a day because of the quality of the stories or posts and the associated links to other blogs. I hope Digg, which clearly has managed to create a vibrant community—no small trick—can turn the talents of that community to more useful ends.

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Reader Comments

Ken Leebow

November 26, 2006 05:43 PM

I'm just curious: What's the difference, if any, between Google Reader and Bloglines?

Ted Shelton

November 26, 2006 05:47 PM

In our view (I work for the company) the wisdom of crowds devolves to this question - "whose crowd is it anyway?" If it is a crowd of teenagers, you probably won't be interested in the same things you are. But what if it is a crowd of colleagues? What if you could visit a news community of people that are truly interested in the things you are? Like this Web 2.0 community:

Or 300 others that have already been started at The Personal Bee.

Rob Hof

November 26, 2006 05:51 PM

Ken, the main difference between Google Reader and Bloglines that's useful to me is that the former makes it easier to go back and view posts that I've already scrolled past--since I often see things that I want to find again later. Bloglines automatically marks "read" anything, and removes from my view, anything that I've even scrolled past (at least, last I checked). I don't want to have to remember where I read something; it's much easier for me to scroll back to the timeframe I saw it, which is easier for me to remember.


November 27, 2006 05:38 AM

I run a blog on tasers at, and I am the one that originally posted the above-mentioned taser story on digg--I did so because after looking over digg I thought it was meant to be some kind of bizarre fringe news site where you went to find the sort of stuff you might see on youtube et al.--funny, strange, weird, etc. which is why I posted that story.
I didn't know that digg was actually supposed to carry anything really informative or useful--I'm being serious, I really didn't, so if that's the case then I guess digg really does have some issues!


November 27, 2006 05:50 AM

I have to admit, I can't stand Digg anymore either. For me, it's gotten too political and partisan. Partisans and publicists of all kinds must troll it in swarms. Anything traditional gets hammered down, anything progressive gets shoved up. Platform-wise it's anti-Microsoft, pro-Apple. Yeah, Apple is cool but I don't use Apple and not everything Microsoft does sucks.

So as for being a little slice of democracy on the Internet, it's about as democratic as Iraq.

Jesse Ciccone

November 27, 2006 09:29 AM

Rob, Just FYI - there is a "Keep New" checkbox after each feed in Bloglines, which I think addresses the problem you had with the service.

Matthew Stotts

November 27, 2006 11:35 AM

Rob - To your point, after awaking from a Turkey coma I found your article on Techmeme not Digg, although I just dugg it here

Gabe Rivera is doing incredible things with Techmeme including his RSS-Ads - I'm on techmeme far more often than I'm at my Netvibes home page with 100s of feeds.


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