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Why the Top Diggers are Right

I understand that there is a lot of animosity towards the so-called Digging elite. Clearly some of them are marketers bent on pushing their own materials. However, certain top-Diggers have no financial interest but, rather, are the uber-fans and social-cornerstones of the popular site. An argument could be made that the participation of even the marketers, whose own materials make up only a tiny fraction of what they Submit and Digg, is responsible in part for Digg’s success – however, we will save that argument for later.

We first understand the new changes to the Digg algorithm to understand why the concerns are valid. While there is a certain black box aspect to the whole Digg promotional algorithm, Kevin Rose and others have indicated time and time again that the new name of the game is diversity of voters. When commenters on the current situation start claiming “it takes 200 diggs” etc, they obviously have no idea what is going on. There is not, of course, any set in stone number of Diggs for which promotion is required. On the contrary, it appears to be some amalgamation of Speed of Diggs, This:All Ratio, Digg-to-Bury Ratio, and Diversity of Voters. The Diversity of Voters has continuosly increased in importance.

Here is why this matters: the more and better information you post on Digg, the harder and harder it comes for those stories to be promoted.

Digg’s Diversity of Voters measurement most likely takes into account several characteristics of each voter: IP address, voting history, friends and fans profile, etc. Over time, a hugely popular Digg user like MrBabyMan will have garnered votes from most of Digg’s active user-base, and will have amassed such a huge list of friends and fans, that it becomes nearly impossible for him to achieve the necessary Diversity of Voters to succeed.

Think of it this way – imagine if, after winning the first Presidential Election, George W. Bush was told that the only way he could win election again, would be to win a majority of the voters who did not vote or voted against him in the previous election. Any voter who supported him in 2000 would be unable to affect his chances of winning. There is no way he would win the next election. And, while certainly not to this extreme, the Diversity of Voters algorithm actually discourages people from participating on Digg in the long run.

Sure, it will mean that your Average Joe, who submits 1 article every few months, will have a chance of getting promoted. But the guy who constantly watches online news and submits articles 10-20 times a day, can no longer expect to have any reasonable amount of success.

And here is the big impact it will have on those of you who couldn’t care less about submitting or getting promoted. When the active user who submits 20 stories a day continues to do so, and meets harsh resistance from the new Digg algorithm, you will never see his story, or the story as submitted by anyone else because of the duplicate content filter. He will continue to add stories before anyone else – the same ones you chose to Digg for the last few years – but they will go nowhere, and no one else will have an opportunity to submit them.

The Top Diggers are Right. Diversity of Voters is an important part of any algorithm, but it has been pushed to the point at which success breeds failure. If Digg wishes to maintain a long-term community of submitters, they will have to reconsider their recent changes.

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