Digg Corrupted: Editor's Playground, not User-Driven Website

UPDATEmy response to Kevin’s (non)response

As a follow up to an earlier post (Digg Army: Right in Line), there have been some vibrations that I think not only our readers would find interesting, but also all Digg users.

To quickly summarize the earlier post, I had noticed two submissions by SpitF1re were on the front page, separated by only one story in between.

To digress for a second, we all know that people who Digg a lot have friends who use Digg. So often times friends digg articles for each other, and often times you may see the same people digging stories, and what not. The buddy-buddy system in effect. That’s fine (in a way) – it’s a shortcoming of all social networks – the more popular people gain more influence.

What really caught my eye with the situation was the sequence of diggs. On the bottom it notes who has dugg an article, and it lists them in order. Confounding as it was, the two beforementioned stories had the same sixteen
people digg the story in a row. So the 7th digger of one article (Insomn1a) was the 7th digger of the other article. In fact, removing bribera’s digg of one article showed that the first nineteen diggs of each article were identical. What made this really interesting was that the 17th digger was none other than Kevin Rose, aka celebrated creator and founder of Digg. I’ve read that Digg gets anywhere from 500,000 to 800,000 readers a day. 16 (or 19) identical diggs for two articles by the same
author? 22 of the first 24 diggers being being the same for both articles? Somehow I don’t think that is a coincidence.

So we posted this, and some people found it interesting. Over at the fellow geeky Binary Bonsai, reader Andreas Climent noted that submitting any url from ForeverGeek was now impossible to Digg. We got banned from Digg.

Now, Digg is their own site, and they can do whatever they want. We have no ‘right’ to make them link to href="http://www.forevergeek.com/">ForeverGeek, but to quote a sentence from their first paragraph on their About Us/ FAQ page:

Digg is a technology news website that combines social bookmarking, blogging, RSS, and non-hierarchical editorial control. With digg, users submit stories for review, but rather than allow an editor to decide which stories go on the homepage, the users do.

Two things to note. Firstly is that Digg is a technology news website. With the size that Digg has become (including the ability to reduce websites to a smoldering mess), reporting news on a Digg shortcoming is definitely
technology related. Secondly, the second sentence clearly states that it is the users that decide what story gets promoted the front page, not the editors. This comes into question twofold here – firstly, the two examples we cited don’t seem user driven at all. To back this, let’s quote the first comment on one of the stories: “Front page and no comments?” An excellent question my friend. Consequently, on the other spectrum, taking what Andreas mentioned with his comment at Binary Bonsai, ForeverGeek was banned. Editor(s) deciding what is okay and what is not? Seems like it.

Digging into our own stats program, we find some more interesting information. We had received a few hits from the following URLs: example 1 and example 2. Visiting the URL leads to Digg nicely informing us: “That item was not
found”

Now you can claim that we are just making those links up, but several things show the URLs existed. Firstly, lets try visiting http://www.digg.com/technology/The_Digsf. The page does not claim anything about any item. Furthermore, take a look at the title tag. Nothing. Yet the two links I just mentioned both had a title tag. Uh huh.

Furthermore, Ramibotros also posted on href="http://blog.outer-court.com/forum/27265.html">Google Blogoscoped, including a screenshot of his href="http://diggabused.googlepages.com/submitted.png">submission to Digg (look at the URL, it validates the URL I had mentioned before), and also of his subsequent banning.

Our own comments page has racketboy commenting the following:

Wow — I just posted this story on Digg and got banned right away.

I emailed Digg and they said I violate the TOS be “accusing” members of abusing
digg. Simply for posting the link to this story.

I had to agree to not do it again so I can get my account back.

Wow

So taking what the above users had mentioned(Andreas, racketboy, Ramibotros), I
tried submitting a random URL on FG (just to verify). I got the following:

“This URL has been reported by users and cannot be submitted at
this time.”

Must have been the same users that were busy digging (all in perfect sequential
order) SpitF1re’s submissions!

So where does that leave us? To quote a man who has been very inspirational to
many others:

“With great power comes great responsibility”

Digg as an idea is fantastic. As a system of disseminating news without having to wait for editors it is amazing. But it seems to be suffering from a power complex. The two articles we originally mentioned were obviously promoted to the front page in an artificial manager.. Our website getting banned was obviously in retaliation to our story. Their entire philosophy now feels shallow and false – the editors decidedly put those two articles to the front
page, just like they decidedly removed us from their system. Users may have originally driven the website, but it looks like that ideal is nothing more than a nice idea in the past.

Of course, this could be another interesting social case. Just like word of mouth and ‘user effort’ is what helped Digg surge, maybe the same users can help spread the word on how Digg is a shadow of its original ideal.

UPDATE:

Been reading around the blogosphere – a lot of misinformation seems to have been
happening that needs to be cleared up.

A few days ago I noticed about how SpitF1re had two articles on the front page. I opened up the comments in new tabs, and when at the end noticed that the digg order was the exact same. I also noticed that Kevin Rose had dugg both (and in perfect order). So I dutifully trotted on over to this blog here and posted about it. I never submitted the article to Digg (bashing Digg on Digg?)

I believe Technorati said that between 1-3 blogs picked it up. One of them was Binary Bonsai. Reading its comments, I saw that Andreas had tried posting it and found out that ForeverGeek had been banned. My name is Jacob Gower. His name is Andreas Climent. We are most definitely not the same people :)

Further perusing my logs, I found that a forum post on Google Blogoscoped also backed up what Andreas had said. ForeverGeek was banned.

What made this odd was that FG has hit the frontpage numerous times, including just a few weeks ago. We are a fairly popular blog, top 3k according to Technorati, and over 3000+ readers according to FeedBurner. Why else could we have been banned except for our post on the Digg Army?

So I gathered all the evidence and put it into a post: Digg’s founder was involved in this automated promotion system (all the diggs in a row, a comment about how it was on the front page and no comments, etc), ForeverGeek was banned for noting it, and Digg was no longer truly a social network system (as obvious editorial control had come into play).

The post spread damn fast. It hit Reddit, it hit Memeorandum, it got several members banned from Digg (most notably how Splasho got knocked out), and in general was making Digg look bad.

Things got interesting when manchild posted on the first
comment
of a frontpage article and really brought this issue to attention. As of my writing this, his comment has +96 diggs.

So what happened? Digg had the beginnings of a PR mess. They had obviously rigged the system, had been trying to silence what we had raised, except that the issue was beyond their control. Even two of my friends got banned trying to submit the post (they tried to be sneaky by using a redirect … that idea failed).

So a few hours later, suddenly we have this: Digg Corrupted.

Looking at the front page, a 7 hour 25 minute old post with 48 diggs is on the front page. As of right now, that article has 50 diggs in 52 minutes and is not promoted.

So what is going? Easy.

Digg got busted. And now they are performing their public relations part to make it look okay. It got busted for using editorial control to force promote pages. It got busted for removing ForeverGeek (even though obviously users wanted it spread). And after the story started to spread, it tried to act like nothing happened by unbanning ForeverGeek).

One last thing people keep forgetting: The diggs were all in order. Sure friends digg other friends’ stories – but 16 in a row identical to both articles? Yeah, I’m not buying it. Color me unimpressed – the original idea of Digg is dead. The apologists are out in force, but social-driven it ain’t.

UPDATE 2my response to Kevin’s (non)response

Comments

  1. Well written, it is corrupted indeed and you provided the evidence clearly. I’ve been using it to gather info/news for some weeks now, but I also noticed a strange pattern.

    Thanks for sharing this, I’m over with digg now…

  2. Mayb a shoutwire article could get this famous:
    http://www.shoutwire.com/comments/10322/Kevin_Rose_abusing_Digg

  3. I tried to submit your first post and couldn’t (even using a tinyURL) so I submitted my own blog post linking to you, before I saw this post.

    http://digg.com/technology/Suspicious_Digging_

  4. i hate this

  5. I have had my account disabled due to submitting this:

    http://splasho.com/blog/2006/04/20/suspicious-digging/
    screen shot at bottom

  6. It wold be really interesting to hear Kevin Rose’s explanation of this little incident.

  7. I emailed you guys the contents of my conversation with Digg on my banning.

    Even though the situation was weird, they were fairly nice about it and reinstated me quickly as long as I agreed to not post links like that again.

  8. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I’m not going to use this valuable web site anymore, but I would like to know that they run things in a straightforward manner. If they want to send something to the front page, we should know how it happened. And of course banning sites that offer facts that put digg in a bad light is conflict of interest that should not occur.

  9. raisenero says:

    I’m done with Digg. I don’t care how nice they can be. Being impolite isn’t a prerequisite to being a jerk. I’m sure everyone has had someone simultaneously screw them while smiling.

  10. Use Newsvine instead.

  11. the article says it all.digg is not a user driven website.i think its acutally some kind of marketing under http://www.federatedmedia.net/.the editors post articles mostly about microsoft and apple.

  12. Someone should post this to NewsVine.

    The point is Digg claims to be user-driven, without editorial oversight. Both examples (the digging of thoes two articles and the banning of this site) are exactly opposite of what they claimed.

  13. i know kevin rose has lots of friends and when he digg and article, a lot of people will come and digg it without thinking. they may use RSS . there might be also some kind of automated tool that automatically digg articles if approved by kevin rose.

    also remember there is a mission statement and there are also the TOS. would forevergeek post an article saying all they do and think is wrong?

  14. If you think digg is becoming crap, try its alternative shoutwire. I usually check that along with digg and I started to notice I stay on there longer and longer.
    http://www.shoutwire.com/

  15. heri, I think you totally missed the point.

    Kevin was around the 17th/18th digger. The first 16 (all before him) were identical for *both* articles. There is no way that could have normally happened. It was ‘promoted’ on purpose, and that goes against everything Digg is suppoused to be.

    Shoutwire link: http://www.shoutwire.com/comments/10322/Kevin_Rose_abusing_Digg

    This (for some reason) really pisses me off – talk about liars.

  16. I’ve been wondering, did anyone so far email digg and ask them why forevergeek was blocked? I think you guys should email them and ask them that before jumping to conclusions…

  17. [I'm not a Digg user, so apologies if I'm overlooking important details...]

    What strikes me is the sheer incompetence of it all. I mean, if you have control over the innards of Digg, how hard can it be to generate *random* users to Digg certain articles. If he’d done that, probably no one would have ever known. Even if he’d randomized the order it could be put down to being fundamentally systemic, e.g. groups of real people who happen to be friends.

    What sounds more likely is that some user without (necessarily) having editorial control has hacked together a script to auto-digg articles.

  18. Aflat – I found ForeverGeek.com because of digg. Its been on the front page a few times. Forget FG even being banned – the point is that the editors promoted both stories, which is exactly against the original idea of Digg, and now they can’t admit it.

    Live by the sword, die by the sword – its important users spread the facts that Digg can be rigged by those that run it.

  19. In addition to the article above, the problem with digg is the user base. It has the same problem that all social networking sites have: most people are terrible idiots. Hence, the more users, the more the quality degrades over time. The idea of digg is great, and unfortunately, as digg gains more users, the idea of digg will ultimately be its own downfall as it sinks to the lowest common denominator.

  20. Tyler Durden says:

    Look at all this HATE. Wow I’m GLAD you guys stay away from DIGG. No wonder you’re not welcome. You’re all so damn NEGATIVE.

    Try contributing something positive.

  21. Tyler Durden says:

    Ash,

    The problem with slashdot is so many users are smarter than anyone who is posting the material. Wow, that’s a ton of fun.

  22. SKU – Could be an argument, except that one of the ‘automated’ diggers included the founder :)

  23. Tyler – yeah the first comments on this post are retarded. I guess its still too early for the poster to be up.

    Still, I dont think this is hate. Personally, Im damn disappointed. Social networks (lead by sites like delicious and digg) were a way for the masses to gain some say. Read this post: http://life.firelace.com/2006/04/corruption_the_house_of_the_di.html – he takes it further and has a good point. If this can happen, how do we know you can’t pay to get upped (or get your competition bumped?)

    Just makes me sad.

  24. @Serg, I don’t think that is enough prof , both of those stories were very well written articles, its not like someone is promoting his blog or site. a list apart is a very popular site. Aside from that did you email them? I think you should do that and get a clear answer for once and all on why they blocked your site..

  25. Browsing other blogs, it seems digg banned a lot of submissions, accounts and even some IPs relating to this article. This controversy obviously is a big deal to them. The fact that they could put in the time and effort to ban, but not come out with an explaination (other than claiming abuse) adds credibility to this article.

  26. karl prigge says:

    Pssst… if you haven’t figured it out yet — you should be using reddit.com

  27. Aflat, I can see your side, but there is *no way* of plausibly explaining how the first 16 diggs were identical, and removing that one person would have the first 19 being idenetical.

    Or at least, if there is one, I would love to hear it from Digg.

  28. Here is another story about a banned site, only this time Digg editors just didn’t like the post, and the site wasn’t even accused of inflating the digg count

  29. ever thought someone might have an RSS reader that also diggs stories automaticly for their friends? And since it is automated it tends to digg in sequentail order when their friend or a different friend post another story?

  30. So all 19 had the same RSS reader to automatic digg story system? :)

  31. Better watch how secure your server is.

    A site as big as Digg might get a bit ticked off and retaliate on the sly.

    Otherwise great article, hopefully it will straighten them out if they know the general public know.

    Try and get this story circled round all the blogging sites to spread the word.

  32. Great article. A while ago on Digg someone posted a link to a story… later, a “popular” Digg member posted a link to the same story. Usually, the dupe would get comments such as “this has already been posted,” but in this case… the original post received hardly any diggs while the popular person’s post was quickly promoted to the front page. When the original poster commented on this, he was flamed. *Sigh* Digg originally wanted to be what slashdot no longer was; a site where it was reasonably possible to get your story promoted even if you were not a website insider. That is no longer the case. At this point, I check out Digg for interesting links but do not sumbit stories myself -what’s the point?

  33. So what if one user has 19 different accounts being used to digg his own submissions…that’s plausible.

    But the way they are handling your complaints is totally ridiculous…which shows that they probably have something to hide. Shame on them…this makes me like digg a lot less now, not to mention all the political left-leaning crap they have been posting there lately.

  34. Frank – one of the diggers was Kevin Rose, the founder.

  35. I think that’s what people keep forgetting. Kevin Rose appears on both lists…its not like just some random grouping of people…its the founder of the site on there.

  36. Actually, it is possible for multiple digg accounts for story pushing. I noted a while back that there was some SEOwatch that was showing people set up digg accounts to market products. Multiple accounts were used to push the story to the top of digg via this marketing tactics.

    Unfortunately, I find that if Kevin Rose is involved, then there’s something deeper. Purely speculation but I still believe my post on the subject at least brings a different angle from a business perspective.

    Whether or not digg likes that hypothesis, I find it extremely plausible that guerilla marketing is the key.

  37. I just dugg this story!

  38. Matt Hoffman says:

    Someone Dugg themselves into a hole didn’t they! *chuckle* *chuckle*

  39. Thanks for collaborating my suspensions.

  40. James Kidd says:

    What is wrong with you people? Are you saying that Kevin and the other editors should not be allowed to digg, BS. Kevin is a smart man, if he was going to something like that he would get more users and not just the same ones. I will admit that it is a little strange to have all the same users for the first diggs, but could have been a group of friends, possibley even Kevin’s friend’s but that is what digg is. Even if he did “abuse” digg, who cares. Its his site/company, he can do what he pleases with it.

  41. The best case scenario is Kevin Rose being in a circle of friends who automatically digg each other’s diggs. Even then, it’s bad: If one small circle has the power to pump an article to first page, it defeats the whole purpose of digg. The fact that it’s the founder knowingly doing this is bad as well.

    Every other scenario is progressively worse.

    What are the chances of two articles written by the same guy dugg by the same 19 guys (out of 500k users) in exact order being pure coincidence? Anyone take statistics?

  42. As far as Kevin Rose’s involvement, I have two scenarios in mind:

    1. DIGG is rigged to favor news items that the owners/managers are into.

    2. It’s a natural thing among DIGGers to DIGG items that the “A-listers” or the influential DIGGers are DIGGing–sort of a bandwagon effect.

    I think the idea that social networking sites are awash with idiots rings true. However, there’s also the concept of the wisdom of crowds, in which the collective consciousness of as many people as possible almost always leads to the most correct or most ideal situation.

    Either way, I hope this issue gets cleared up. I’m kind of torn in-between, being both a ForeverGeek contributor and an avid DIGGer.

  43. James Kidd – who the hell said that Rose is not allowed to dig stories?

    The point (which you apparently totally missed) is that the order of digs for the two stories submitted by the same individual are EXACTLY the same…same names, same order, same diggs, same submitter.

    The fact that the digg people reacted the way they did by banning people who pointed this out and even people who dug the comments CONFIRM that they are guilty of something.

    They should come clean and admit it, or I am going back to /.

  44. Guys the story is posted on digg…I don’t know what to say, I just find it hard to believe this…i think its all a coincidence that those users dugg both stories…

  45. I would suggest that you go to this digg posting

    http://digg.com/links/Digg_Vs_Slashdot…_And_the_Winner_is…..

    And Digg the article and thumbs up my comment to get this heard.

  46. Matt Hoffman says:

    Man can you Digg it?

  47. Another way in prooving a digg story was burried is by simply browsing this:
    http://digg.com/search?search=digg&submit=Search&area=all&type=both&age=60&search-buried=on

  48. Matt Hoffman says:

    I’m going to go Digg up some grub. Anyone hungry?

  49. Post has been updated :P

  50. I did a search on google for some of the beginning names, and it seems like a lot of them digg each others stories and only each others stories. Take for example Insomn1a’s recently dugg stories http://digg.com/rss/Insomn1a/index2.xml note the submitters of the stories, they’re all the early diggers of sp1tfires stories. Pretty suspicious

  51. pretty lame on the part of digg, all in all. I just submitted to slashdot

  52. This just sucks!

  53. Wow — the Digg got pulled off the front page.

    Lame.

  54. lol

    Who are you Macgyver?

  55. Huh? No plausible explanation for why the diggs were in the same order?

    How about this: Guy puts up two articles and sends an email to his buddies with the links. They each individually get the email, go to the website and digg both articles. Why would you expect the order to be anything other than the same?

    Am I missing something? Why all the outrage?

  56. Great reporting – can’t believe they got caught at it. Not hard for them to hide it in the future: just use a greater number of usernames and introduce some randomness into the script that does the submissions.

    Digg is dead. I’ll be back to life on del.icio.us from now on. Vote with your clicks!

  57. Did you really expect Digg to get all this VC money and not try to make a return on any of it?

  58. Digg lately has been up to stuff. I’ve noticed a bunch of stories being pulled from the front page. I recently got banned from digg for no reason at all. I’ve never posted a story and I’ve only commented a few times, I basically use it to find interesting articles and I digg them so of course I got banned….

  59. so what

  60. There’s a possible explanation for some of this which doesn’t require conspiracy. Digg is very, very heavy against spam. It’s possible that some stories which get buried are done automatically. I can, for example, bury any story I want by creating a bunch of new users and digging that story…

  61. Same thing, I posted something that showed Slashdot was still WAY ahead of Digg and it got buried, even though if you searched for the story it wasn’t marked as buried…they said it was a bug.

    Perhaps they were scared it would put investors off.

    http://www.darknet.org.uk/2006/04/slashdot-effect-vs-digg-effect-traffic-report/

  62. Thats fine Elliot – it doesnt explain the systematic promotion of this story (which is backed by the person asking how the frontpage story had no comment) and the subsequent banning of ForeverGeek.

  63. I’ll still go with my assumptions that there’s money involved. If VC money is involved, they’re looking for a return of at least 10% on investment, usually more.

    Whether of not you like to think Digg is in it for the better of humanity (or geekdom in general), they’re in it for the money. Just like Google is, although Google is way better at spinning their free versus business scenarios.

    When it comes right down to it, there is definitely some marketing gimmicks going on with Digg. I would imagine that they way they sold it to VCs was through virile/guerilla style marketing. That would what I’d be selling as an entrepeneur. It’s the only way to sell a social network such as Digg.

  64. I haven’t considered the money angle, but I guess that’s possible. I have seen quite a few articles submitted by various people that were blatant ads – pure and simple. Granted they were not on the main page, still…there are several that made it on the main page…the most recent one coming to mind is the one on home automation for example.

    Maybe darkmoon has a point…which is again, OK as long as they come clean and are open about it…making money is the top american dream isn’t it? :)

  65. Hmmm, trust once lost is difficult to regain…

  66. You all have waaaay to much time on your hands.

  67. I’ve got a collection of all the links in this story on my website…if you know of any more, please comment…I’ll update them as we go along…

    http://linux-blog.org/index.php?/archives/134-The-Dirt-on-Suspicious-Digging-at-Digg.com.html

    BTW, it just got slashdotted… :P

  68. Posted this link in a comment on a related Digg story almost 50 minutes ago and I’m not banned yet.

    http://digg.com/links/Digg_Vs_Slashdot…_And_the_Winner_is…..#c1506763

  69. Say cheeeeeese! You re on slashtot!

  70. I am disgusted by digg.com. Disgraceful.

  71. If people are so concerned with digg being corrupted, they should switch to using http://www.youpickthenews.com ;)

  72. Daniel K says:

    So sad to see this happen to digg, it was such a fantastic resource for finding shit i wouldn’t have ever seen otherwise (such as forevergeek.com).

    Kevin made a huge mistake. He might be able to pull digg out of the sky dive if he apologizes profusely (ASAP!!) and promises to not let this happen again… as well as give banned users their accounts back..

  73. @Michiel (acidzebra)
    Yeah, if only we were all rich enough to go on trips around Europe, then we wouldn’t be so sad, right?

  74. maybe Kevin is a scientologist? Looks to me he’s using their tactics, lol

  75. Front page and now poof…gone

  76. Shut up, Democrats.

  77. I did some analysis on all of the stories submitted by the people that dugg this story that made the front page. Results here – http://www.zippitydoodahonline.com/?p=10

    On average each submission recieved 8 diggs from others in this group, within the first 24 diggs a story recieved. Extremely suspicious, and looks like proof to me

  78. You are no longer of the body…

  79. Check out Kevin Rose’s post at http://diggtheblog.blogspot.com/2006/04/digging-fraud.html

    “The banning of forevergeek.com: Aside from the dozens of user reports, several accounts were created to artificially inflate the digg count of their stories. When a single URL hits a threshold of reports, our standard procedure is to block that URL from submission (spam control). Again, mass fraud digging is in violation of our terms of service.”

    “Recently it was brought to our attention that several users have created accounts to mass digg and promote stories. While these accounts appear to be valid, they have in certain instances been used for automated in-order (scripted) digging. This is a violation of our terms of service and the accounts have since been banned.”

    and cue the conspiracy theorists, emerge from the woodwork.

  80. I agree with everything. I had a story I submitted get 35 diggs in less than an hour. Shortly after, it was pulled from all of the categories and the story cloud – no where to be found and it never made the frontpage.

  81. Kevin Rose Responds (directly addresses FG)

  82. the user sp1tF1re has been removed, as of about 30 minutes ago.

    http://digg.com/users/SpitF1re/

  83. Kevin Rose Responds (directly addresses FG)

    http://diggtheblog.blogspot.com/2006/04/digging-fraud.html

  84. I always thought Digg was dumb. Tons of immature kids all over that pos.

  85. He basically says that FG inflated their digg posts, thus the ban. What’s amusing is that if you search for “forevergeek” on digg, you find that there really aren’t that many high digg posts.

    I looked at the list this morning.

    Regarding: “On a personal note: It has been pointed out that I too have dugg these fraud stories. I digg stories I enjoy reading and currently track over 40 users within digg. If it’s good content, I digg it.”

    Making the assumption that “Who Dugg this” goes from left to right, kevinrose is always between idean360 and yobonicap.

    COME ON. The second has a single entry before Kevin’s. What are the chances of in a row? He’s in on it and trying to PR it away with that one.

  86. TheGovernor says:
  87. they are definatley deleting articles on this issue.

  88. GuyanaBai says:

    Digg was busted and now Kevin is saying the accounts in question were fraudsters, meanwhile some of these fraudsters are on his buddy list…hmmm.

    Myspace did something similiar to inflate the number of customers, it’s an educated guess for Kevin to be using robots to manipulate content…

  89. Thanks for the info!!
    You have been slashdotted. Looks like its going back to Slashdot now

  90. I understand you concern dude, but get over it it’s owned and operated by people and if they feel your breaking the rules, guess what they can do what ever you want. Maybe if people wouldn’t submit your site every 30 seconds to digg they may un ban you dude.

    Just like you’ll probably ban me.

  91. It seems to me like Kevin’s response on the digg blog is satisfactory.

    Where do you see that the fraudulent accounts were in his buddy list? What evidence is there for that claim?

  92. Joe Belusha says:

    I’ve stopped using Digg because of this.

  93. Three step plan to dig a hole for Digg …

    1. Stop visiting Digg
    2. Unsubscribe from Diggnation in iTunes (I bet iTunes tracks # of subscribers – if this takes a sharp downturn it will have an impact on their sponsors)
    3. Contact the sponsors of Diggnation and express your concerns about a news site that poses as being open, but appears to be something much more sinister. And then let them know you don’t feel comfortable doing any future business with them until they re-assess thier sponsorship of the show. I believe their current sponsors are GoDaddy and Cachefly. Drop them a note.

  94. Oh. btw… on the ForeverGeek ban. Claiming that there were fraudulent users involved in inflating the diggs for ForeverGeek stories. Check it out yourself:

    http://www.digg.com/search?search=forevergeek&submit=Submit

    Inflation of FG stories? HUH? That list hasn’t changed at all from this morning. Note that a few are in the thousands, but the rest are super low diggs. That tells anyone with half a brain about scripting/bots that all FG stories would have had at least double digits for inflation ratings.

    Trying to pin FG with the ban is low of lows.

  95. Statistically speaking, the chances that 16 users Digg two stories at the same exact sequence is 2.32 x 10^86.

    That’s 2.32 times 10 to the power of 86. That’s 86 zeros.

  96. I don’t think the diggs being in the same order is quite as improbable as you seem to be assuming. Digg may have a few hundred thousand readers, but how many active diggers are there (i.e. people with accounts who regularly digg postings)? Probably no more than a couple of thousand active diggers. At any given time, how many of them are actively digging (looking for articles to digg, as opposed to just browsing the queue)? Probably not more than 1000. They’re probably reading through the new stories in the same order. Sixteen or twenty of those digging the same two stories sequentially doesn’t seem that unlikely; not probable, but not impossible. You’d really need to look back through the old stories to find out if it’s happened before. If there is a pattern of this happening then someone is playing the system, otherwise its just plain chance.

  97. Myspace did something similiar to inflate the number of customers???
    Why do you think so?
    There was no bot fraud on my space (at list in last year).

  98. Petition to Kevin to stop banning sites
    http://www.petitiononline.com/diggban/petition.html

  99. I find it interesting that most of the users in that list of 16 were deleted due to “fraud”. If that’s the case, then the chance argument falls right out the window.

  100. mariachi says:

    so where are we all going to go now?

  101. @mariachi:

    away, hopefully.

  102. I’m glad to see that Kevin has responded to this, but it still doesn’t explain how the stories where dugg by the same users (including Kevin Rose), in the same order.

    If it was done by a script, why is Kevin Rose’s account part of that script?

    I don’t mind if these persons digg stories they like, but if stories are dugg automatically simply because they where posted by certain individuals, then that would essentially be cheating the system and destroying the value of democratic promotion of interesting stories.

  103. I suspected something was up. Here’s my experience:

    I posted my first digg deal on March 20, just a one liner about a company who provided a free service entitled “Influence the Blogosphere”, find out how you are linked, etc. For a novice like me, it is a useful tool. That was a little after 9am.

    By noon-ish I had been smacked in the face as a digg spammer for posting a free tool on a “consultant’s site” by one “thepackrat”. So I replied to his comment and so forth then reposted his/mine on my blog as a matter of record.

    The whole thing left a slightly sour taste in my mouth but no matter, I still dugg occasionally. Deep down I suspected this packrat-guy of shilling or working for digg. I shrugged it off as a purist’s zeal.

    Today a month later, I posted another blurb to digg. Then I run across this article. So I go to look up my spam-smack for reference and nothing past a piece of mal-formed code FROM digg shows on my page. Not my profile, not my other feeds, no other posts, Hmmmmmmmmm……..

    Whatever is going on at that site, it is not what it appears to be. Something kinda FISHY. I’ll be linking to this article, Natch.
    Thanks for the research and time it took to mess around with the digging issues.

    …urbansurvivor
    http://urbansurvivor.blogspot.com

  104. It is possible that it could be a scripting error …. It does not appear likely that the same people would Digg the exact same story, in the same order.

    On another point,
    there have been several instances of submitted sites that disappeared after 30+ Diggs, only to come up/submitted later by another user and make the homepage

    But all in all – even without any friends – there have been MANY submissions that have went to the homepage

    http://digg.com/users/SearchEngines/homepage

  105. Anonymous says:


    The banning of forevergeek.com: Aside from the dozens of user reports, several accounts were created to artificially inflate the digg count of their stories. When a single URL hits a threshold of reports, our standard procedure is to block that URL from submission (spam control). Again, mass fraud digging is in violation of our terms of service.”

    Why should we trust Kevin more than ForeverGeek? Kevin is the one that’s deleting articles on his supposed user-run website.

  106. Someone named eybear got my post 290+ diggs and front page until the KR fanboys/girls removed it. hah. Amusing.

  107. when someone with integrity gets busted in their job and publicly humiliated, the respectable thing to do is sign your resignation and move on to new things. whether you like it or not, it’s best for you and for the people staying with the company.

    kevin: digg’s a cool site. don’t drag it down with you. do the right thing.

  108. Javier Morales says:

    I’ve only started to use digg but I noticed a few things…. positive stories about digg come through pretty regularly. That seems a bit contrived to me. Periodically posts make it to the home page that look more like adverts than actual posts. “Top 10 AdSense tools” I’m thinking of you…. and stories “debunking” global warning always seem to push right to the front page…. which seems a bit odd given that if anyone this crowd ought to look at the facts a little closer… then this story came out and I found others along the same line. time to do a little bookmark cleanup. goodbye digg.

  109. I still think Greg’s comment #56 has a good point. Maybe it’s really only due to 2 emails reaching the diggers in the same order – naturally…

    So, as this could be an explanation, the REAL question remains: Why did digg ban any story covering that, instead of investigate it openly?

    Maybe the original two-articles thing wasn’t even anything fishy. But the fishy way digg reacted to it is what really reveals a lot.

  110. addendum: as anyone with a background of empirical statistics knows, a repeated or repeatable pattern only shows that there is SOME underlying mechanism at work. automated digging is just a guess, it might be some other explanation like the email-stuff oder something nobody thought about up to know. still doesn’t help with the bad way digg reacts…

  111. Just checked the news today. Woa this is a major blow to digg. I’m pretty upset and can’t wait to see Digg’s official response. (something tells me they will play good guy, which we all know they are not anymore).

  112. You know what. I just had a crazy stupid idea. I was reading the comments and when you say “anything bad” on digg, the digg fanboys/fangirls get all pissy. I mean seriously. They don’t even read the article.

    I’m wondering if they mark your digg post lame. So far, everything seems to be like that. I can still find the digg on mine, but search doesn’t even show it.

    Perhaps stupidity begets stupidity. That must be it.

  113. Lets be realistic. If Kevin Rose asked 16 people/friends/employees to digg a story, what’s wrong with that? Manipulation? If u want a story to reach front page status, wouldn’t you ask your friends and employees to digg it?

    If you don’t like a story, then don’t digg it. Write a scathing comment. And be done with it.

    Personally I think this is attention whoring, using conspiracy theories as the hook

  114. tracydanger says:

    I don’t have a problem with most of these comments, it seems like fair criticism. I dawned on me, though, that this whole phenomenon is a natural occurrence of digg becoming so incredibly popular. It is guaranteed that when a person or thing becomes more and more popular, there will naturally become more scrutiny (just look at Michael Jackson).

  115. @Monsolo – except that he claimed it was automated and he banned them. At the same time, somehow he was in the middle of the ‘spammers’ (for both articles).

    Don’t be so gullible.

  116. I agree with Monsolo — attention whoring plain and simple.

  117. Does this seem a bit like members of the mafia going to jail, but not the godfather to anyone else? Heh, not like the fake accounts wont be recreated with different names very soon, if not already, we just wont know for a few months… or it will be done smarter with new dummy accounts every so often. Hopefully when it’s done again, it will be caught again… I don’t think digg will survive another of these.

  118. Cool, now we know how to frame Alex and Kevin for something they didn’t do….

    Here is how to do it:

    Send 18 automated diggs from fake users to a story Kevin or Alex might digg. Then you wait for one of them to digg the targeted story. When you see that they dugg the story, quickly send another sequence or fake diggs, always in the same order.

    If you can do that twice, you now have some falsified “proof” that enables you to use the minds of gullible digg-haters or banned members to create a media backlash, as it happens right now…

    If that whole “sandwich Kevin Rose between two diggs twice” process is automated, it can be tried many times over a long period of time, until you are lucky enough to catch him twice on two different stories.

  119. Wow Robot2006 – so now you are thinking that this is a conspiracy to out Kevin?

    Talk about being an apologist :)

  120. Very good article. Well done. I’m through with Digg! Cheers!

  121. Yes it is.

    “I’ll be back!”

  122. @Serg,
    Hey, if u believe Macgyver’s claims, it makes u just as gullible.

    My thinking: I really don’t care if Digg manipulates a story to appear on the front page. If it’s newsworthy then Digg did a good job in promoting it. I have it in my RSS feed anyway so i can easily skim through it. Just because a news item is in the front page does not make it any more credible.

    And at the end of the day, both macgyver and digg will get what they want. Digg will improve their systems to address macgyver’s concerns. In return, macgyver gets his 15 minutes.

  123. Sorry..but who really cares about all of this? Some people have nothing to do with their free time..heh. It’s just an internet site.. I read them all — even the abysmal shoutwire. (although reddit is my fave.)

  124. Monsolo, Digg is seen as the poster child of ‘web 2.0′. It claims to be free of editorial aspects (of which it has raged about). And yet it was found out that it was doing the exact opposite.

    So attention whoring? Sure if you want to call it that. Or simply a website that is just leading on its (big audience).

  125. I see that Digg has removed the ability to “bury” a post. Interesting.

  126. Wow, superb post and very detailed explanation. I think I will have to remove all my digg extensions from firefox!

  127. For me, no big deal. Digg is a news aggregator anyway. If you think its not newsworthy, move on.

    At the very least, Digg has pointed me to some very interesting articles.

    More of my opinions are at http://www.technopinoy.com/?p=95.

  128. babywriter says:

    What’s been interesting, as I have watched this unfold on Digg, is how the following story has been progressively shielded from those who might want to access it:

    http://digg.com/technology/Digg_Corrupted

    As of this morning, the story cannot be found via digg’s site search IN ANY WAY – not even by enabling the “include buried stories” checkbox.

    Prior to that, the story had been buried for the better part of the day, and not allowed to move to the homepage – even though it attracted more than 400 diggs in less than four hours, and now sits at 1275 (with almost 300 comments).

    I’m willing to believe that the story was buried due to people complaining about it. Heck, I’m even willing to believe that other, similar stories were buried in the same way (although it would be nice to know what the ratio of complaints to diggs would be to trigger that process).

    But I find it very hard to believe that an algorithm could have removed the story COMPLETELY from the site’s search function – essentially, making it invisible. That, I would think, requires a human hand – and digg has made its reputation on the fact that they DON’T do that.

    So I’m changing the channel. Digg is permanently off my list – which is sad, because I usually check it several times a day. I’ll find other places for my tech fix.

  129. I’m going to approach this from another facet after reading the comments on Digg itself on the post I had on front page on this matter and got it pulled. I’m wondering that if it gets too many “lame” reports, then the story is unsearchable. I can definitely say there is a lot of Digg-lovers out there that didn’t want to hear it and automatically clicked that without even reading what I had to say. Wondering if that also had to do with the burying. Doesn’t resolve Kevin from being “involved” with the fraud type people, but it’s a start at least for resolution.

  130. ProAm500 says:

    IF you search digg and comapre todays search for the term “digg” to yesterdays at about the same time, EVERY story that was critical of digg has been totally removed from the site…..what exactly is going on here?

  131. ProAm500 says:

    I made this comment in other places, so some of you may have seen this before…….

    Heres the problem I have, and I’m not a regular user on this site, just to point out….I’ve been going to digg for about a year now. In concept, its great, the pure idea that users control the content is wonderful in theory. Whats even better for me is that its a reference tool. I can do a search for something on digg and find all kinds of articles. But you have to now question the credibilty of those who run the site and the users. Whos to say that a new company with a new product cant approach a popular user (for example AlbertPacino) and say to themselves “Wow this guy is really popular on this site, and everything he submits goes to the frontpage. I think we can use this guy to get some quick cheap pup about our product.” I mean they can slip $1000 bucks to a popular user or owner to get stories about their product to the front page. I mean it seems far-fetched, but when you think about, its not far-fetched at all. Thats the problem I have. There’s gonna come a time when Kevin Rose and the other people who run and own the site, have interests they have to keep up. Perhaps thats going on now, but if and when it happens, you really have to question the intergrity of the site as a whole…..