CNet's story about Digg needs a reality check

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I recently did an [interview]( with Elinor Mills from C|Net on [Digg spam]( and noticed that the article contained a lot of inaccurate information. She quoted me as saying

Companies charge as much as $15,000 to get content up on Digg, said Neil Patel, chief technology officer at the Internet marketing firm ACS.

Marketers do not charge companies to get on Digg, but instead they charge companies to build a piece of viral content or media with the idea that it will do well on the web. Whether it gets on Digg or not, the point of the content is to be compelling enough that people link to it and tell others about it.
Rand Fishkin from SEOMOZ also noticed some inaccuracies and broke them down in a blog post called “[Elinor Mills Embarasses Self, C|Net with Digg Article](”.

Some marketers offer “content generation services,” where they sell stories to Web sites for the sole purpose of getting them submitted to Digg and other sites. This combination of spam and blogs is called “splogs.” The stories often feature topics and keywords in headlines that are likely to appeal to the Digg crowd, such as “geeks” and “Apple.”

Even the most basic research should have revealed to Ms. Mills that:

  1. Content Generation Services – this is a far broader service than what she describes. I think she wanted to say “linkbait” or “viral media generation.”
  2. Combination of spam & blogs – what the heck do splogs have to do with manipulating Digg? No one tries to get a splog onto Digg… Clearly, she has no concept of what a splog actually refers to (a blog that scrapes and repuprposes content for the purpose of targeting long tail queries in the search engines)
  3. Keywords in headlines and geeky topics will get you to the top of Digg, but I fail to see the inherent manipulation or how it relates.

It seems like Elinor tried to represent an accurate picture by interviewing knowledgeable people in the industry, but she should have double checked her own facts and verbage before publishing the article.

Neil Patel
Neil Patel is the co-founder of KISSmetrics, an analytics provider that helps companies make better business decisions. Neil also blogs about marketing and entrepreneurship at Quick Sprout.
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  • Brian Clark

    Unfortunate article. I was glad to see you get some press, but the context you were placed in seemed a bit strained by the author (to say the least).

  • Robyn Tippins

    What is someone who doesn’t know what a splog is doing writing for cNet? Weird…

  • Neil Patel

    Engtech, I would say splogs are blogs who scrap content. The Dentist example maybe considered spam, but the blog has unique content so I would not consider it a splog.

  • David Mihm

    I wouldn’t have been surprised to see something like this in the mainstream media. But one would think that a tech-savvy publication like CNET would a) have a little better idea of what’s going on with Digg and b) make sure they got someone who did have an idea of what was going on take a look at the article before it was published. Why not get one of the interviewees to proof it?

  • greg

    “Why not get one of the interviewees to proof it?”
    That’s not how the media operate. They don’t have people from the outside proof read their work – that’s what editors and interns are for.

  • AussieWebmaster

    Many times when you do an interview with someone that knows a little they can screw up… the ones that know nothing are motivated at least to double check everything and find out what things mean…
    Sadly CNET is no different than the NYT.