Mashable is reporting today on Kevin’s surprise visit (via video link) to the TheNextWeb conference in Amsterdam and his plans for the future of Digg. Here are my thoughts on Kevin’s plans and how I think it may not be the best decision for the Digg community.
Kevin essentially announced that Digg is working on something big that will possibly be released in the next 6 months to a year which will change the site in a significant way. Basically they plan to increase Digg’s exposure by increasing the categories on the site to include everything from restaurant reviews, products, pictures and pretty much everything else you can get your browser directed to.
The addition of a pictures section makes perfect sense. The Digg community has asked for this section many times now and has promoted several stories to the site’s front-page in the hopes that the Digg team would listen to them. Now that it’s in the works, the community will rejoice. I have previously extensively detailed my thoughts on why Digg hasn’t implemented the pictures section yet and how they plan on implementing it in the future.
However, I can’t seem to get myself to agree with adding the other categories on the site. I feel, and I think most of the Digg community also feels, that Digg shouldn’t spread itself too thin, and this has been seen in the community’s uneven embrace of the existing categories on the site. While politics has gotten some traction (though a majority of political submissions are still buried) sports and some other categories remain empty.
On the other hand, it is understandable (though very risky) why Digg would want to do this. As I mentioned earlier, this is simply an attempt for Digg to move beyond its technology-enthusiast audience. This makes most sense when you look at it from a revenue standpoint. Tech-savvy users in the Digg community are most likely not going to contribute ad-revenue to Digg in anyway. This is partly because most of them have AdBlock installed, and even the ones that don’t have AdBlock are highly unlikely to click on ads. Now if they were to get an audience beyond that they could probably make some money.
In addition to this, it seems like the features Kevin promised last February are also going to be release around the same time line. You might recall that after removing the list of top Diggers, Kevin made the following remarks,
Now, as the site has matured and we regularly get 5,000+ content submissions per day, we believe there are better ways to discover new friends based on your interests and what you’re digging. So if you have been digging stories about digital cameras and Oolong tea, you will be introduced to other top users with those interests… We plan on rolling this out in the coming months along with features and programs that do a better job of rewarding positive contributions to the Digg community.
While we haven’t seen anything of that nature yet, it’s good to know that something is being developed. (Also check out our analysis of that announcement.) On the whole the announcement makes sense but is going to be a risky move. Digg will have to balance trying to expand their audience at the risk of alienating the core users; and will really have to implement some excellent personalization features for this to not be a problem.
Here are more thoughts and a video of Kevin’s comments: