What’s the digg effect?

21 08 2007

A relatively new verb that has been coined around the Internet is “dugg.”  Digg.com is a user generated content provider which prioritizes news articles, videos, blogs based on other people’s opinion.  Based on this simple conjecture, the highest rated news articles float to the top of the site and thus get higher traffic.  As people agree with the initial user, the site begins to get “dugg” even more (or voted as being a good article/site) and gets higher traffic.

So the question to ask oneself is how do you get to be “dugg” on the internet.  What are the characteristics of a site that is well received by the Digg population?  In my opinion, there is no set formula that makes something popular on the Internet.  I think the prime example for “random popularity” on the internet comes with video traffic on YouTube.  The phenomenon of lonelygirl15 would never get traction on normal television screens.  Yet placed on YouTube, this type of viral marketing spreads like a wildfire.  The recent phenomenon of Chocolate Rain has received over 6 million views.  I don’t know about you, but I never would imagine something like this catching fire.

At Digg.com, a user can easily see the top 20 digg’s of the day to see what content is appealing towards the consumer.  Unfortunately, Digg.com doesn’t necessarily show a proper subset of the internet.  For instance, if I put this blog on digg.com, I would probably get 5-10 diggs, simply by telling my friends.  Granted, this content may not be interesting enough to forward on to many friends, but it will get lost in the midst of all of the other content.  Currently, the top 100 digg users control most of the community which creates an inflated digg score on certain sites.  Some digg users are pinged by sites to “get their traffic up.”  Getting a high digg score means free traffic = higher ad revenue/free publicity.

So how do you control inflation on the web.  eBay.com for instance has seen this for years under their feedback system.  If 99% of the population on eBay has a feedback rating of 95% and above, doesn’t it lose it’s value?  What about the only getting the top 100 digg users articles on the front page of digg….does the community really have a voice?

This brings me back to the bigger point of the day – is it wrong to have this type of system?  The Internet is amazing because every voice is equal (relatively).  No matter who you are, you will always be able to comment/blog/speak what you want to an infinite audience.  However, when certain users begin to control the content that is shown to the mass public, problems can begin to arise.  Whether you get “techcrunched” by getting an inordinate amount of traffic from Michael Arrington’s site, or get “dugg” by digg.com, your site/content will be much more prominent in the web space.

Just my $.02…

-SD

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