The UBER-bottom line about digg.com: It’s a great example of Web 2.0 and one of the most compelling websites online today. Bookmark it, love it, dig it.
What does Digg do? Digg provides a democratic way of selecting your news content.
How does Digg work? Users submit their favorite websites, usually news stories. For example, the current hot news story on digg is “FIREFOX 3.0 PASSES MAJOR MILESTONE”. Every article is given a “thumbs-up” or “thumbs-down”, articles with the most “thumbs-up” make the front page.
Hence the name “digg”; I dig your website!
The Benefits of Digg.com
Digg.com provides a great deal of news information that you would normally not see on a major news site like Yahoo or MSN. Most of the news on Digg regards “nerdy” topics such as software development or technology news.
Much like the butt-flap on a pair of long-johns, Digg is useful; it provides easy access to news information, democratically proven to be of interest to you.
Digg is fast, too. Mostly all text, not much graphics.
Slap an RSS feed on Digg.com, and you’ve got hot news topics forever. No, literally; the human concept of forever – as long as digg exists, users will submit stories.
Despite all these benefits, I’ll try to take a critical eye to Digg and point out some flaws.
FLAW #1: News of the Weird
News of the weird is often too prevalent on Digg.com (e.g., UFO sited over Lake Michigan, Woman gives birth to 15 babies)
Weird news defeats the purpose of having a democratic dispersal of information. While it may be interesting to read about “MAN EATS HIS OWN FIST”, this information is probably NOT HELPFUL.
However, demand for weird news is high, hence the diggability of it.
News of the weird obstructs relevant news stories. It’s like rubbernecking at the scene of an accident: get out of your car and help, otherwise drive on.
FLAW #2: Redundant Explorations of Technology Trends
While it’s nice to know that there are open source operating systems such as Ubuntu out there, Digg.com tends to be VERY REDUNDANT when it comes to esoteric aspects of software development.
While this is not a bad thing per se, the SHEER AMOUNT of Digg articles regarding Ubuntu is a ridiculous waste of time.
Who cares about kernels and .ASP trees and XML manifestations?
Every redundant digg article is tantamount to preaching to the choir: it narrows the audience; thusly it hurts the democratic aspect of digg.
FLAW #3: Opinion Is Truth
To quote Stephen Colbert: “Truthiness, copyright.”
Face it, people are prone to propaganda. Anytime you have a news outlet, you have the opportunity for the abuse of that news outlet.
With a democratically controlled news process, the truth becomes blurred with opinion. In the cases of libel, a person’s reputation can be destroyed. Given the nature of a “digg”, wherein traffic to a website can increase 10,000 percent, it’s possible to spread that information overnight. (8:00 AM Reputation good! 9:00 PM Reputation ruined!)
The point is: it’s easy to spread misinformation.
(Hopefully, I did not just predict a 21st century “War of the Worlds” scenario. Look up Orson Welles on Wikipedia. If someone wanted to pull a hoax on digg, they’d have ample opportunity.)
FLAW #4: Censorship
Some articles are prone to copyright infringement or provide information that would legally hurt digg.
While articles such as decryption codes, trade secrets, or libel certainly must be regulated by Digg, some pertinent information is always lost during the censorship process.
Secondly, security measures ultimately detract from the usefulness of the website (e.g., “ARE YOU HUMAN?” letter-typing test, cookies, security updates, maintenance downtimes).
FLAW #5: Discussion Boards
The Discussion Boards are a benefit and a flaw. People tend to be rude and crude.As with any social-networking site, Digg has an inherent social hierarchy. Some of that structure is visible; if a team of users elects to “digg down” your post, it is buried.
It only takes a few votes to remove a forum response from the active discussion. Meaning that, despite the relevance of the posting, a malicious user could round up a few friends and censor his or her enemies.
Using the strictest sense of democracy, the “digg down” aspect of the discussions can hurt the very notion of TOS-limited free speech that digg provides.SUMMARY
Despite these flaws, Digg remains one of the most pertinent websites today. Nowhere else will you find odd stories that otherwise would never make it to major news outlets. And many times, Digg can be the first source of that information; a digg is near instantaneous.
If you haven’t done so already, bookmark digg.com. Eventually you’ll find some news that you can use!