How to Screw up Years of Content, Links & Community Digg Style!

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Digg the once popular social media news website is under a rebranding from its new owners Betaworks after being acquired last month for $500,000.  Yesterday they launched Digg V1 which apparently started from square one with “fresh code” approximately six weeks ago.  The team of 10 from ReThink Digg really did start from scratch and lost most of the value they paid.  You can’t even call it a social news site anymore as most of the social aspects are gone.

Design & User Experience

At first look many don’t get the new look or the functionality for that matter.

Digg’s V1 has removed the community form the website.  Sure one of the biggest downfalls was the poor voting system that was easily manipulated by armies of diggers trying to promote their own content. There answer was to remove the community factors and hire news editors.  I completely understand how this is a step in the right direction by removing the up-voting mobs that ruined Digg in the first place.  What I don’t understand is how they removed the community almost altogether.

Where are the categories? At least the main news websites have categories.  Not the new Digg. When you are looking at the new Digg it almost feels like the news was just spit out all over the screen.  They have sports stories next to politic stories and science next to poker and if you are not interested in a subject too bad.

Login Fail

Digg now only allows users to sign in with their Facebook account.  I know this is to help fight the spam but a good majority of people don’t like to use their Facebook logins all over the Internet.  It would be helpful to add at least one more option. There are those that are paranoid and there are some that just dislike Facebook and refuse to use them as a login.

The main problem I see now is there is no community.  Where can people comment? Are people really going to submit news stories just for the sake of submitting? Maybe for a while but most won’t stick around. There is no conversation and no reason to stick around.

Establish Traffic

OK, to be fair Digg’s traffic has been in the dumps for a long time.  Just in the past year alone they have lost more than 50% of their traffic but at a little over 1.3 million visitors per month most companies would die to have their traffic.

Social Fail

You can tweet and you can share on Facebook but beyond that there isn’t much do to.  The most successful social media sites are about sharing.  The new Digg V1 doesn’t have any way of of allowing members to be social within their own website.

Another drawback is all users are starter over. The loyal users that have established connections over the past seven years need to start over.  All the profiles and related data are no longer accessible.

SEO Fail – 14,000,000 404’s

It is clear Digg isn’t consulting with any search engine optimization companies as all the old pages are now 404’s. I doubt any SEO consultant would not be on top of that. That’s over 14,000,000 pages of 404’s.  Many rank on the first page of Google and I’m sure contribute in a huge way to their 1.3 million monthly visitors.

SEO Fail – No New Content

The stories have no permanent links on Digg itself.  No chance for user created content or a way for Digg V1 to add new pages to their website.  Essential Digg is currently a homepage of news stories. .  Don’t we have this already?  Google News. Yahoo news.  Do we really need Digg news?

What They Did Well

In all fairness it’s not all bad.  Digg did seem to remove all those advertisements that got in the way of a good user experience.  They also have successfully removed the voting factors from the mobs that ruined Digg in the first place.

Stuart McHenry
Stuart McHenry is the President of McKremie an Internet Marketing firm that specializes in Orange County SEO. He has been involved in online marketing for... Read Full Bio
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  • Brent Csutoras

    Great post, but I have two comments I would like to add.

    1) The user mobs did not kill Digg. It was the attempt to eliminate the curators that killed Digg.

    Look.. through meetups IRL, forums, and social sites in general, there have always been a small but passionate group of infuencers that lead the charge to making the community work.

    Stats alone showed that barely 1% of users were involved in the curation process on Digg, and for years they worked to eliminate that group of people. Their solution was to use Twitter and Facebook, something that is even more influenced by a small set of curators than Digg was.

    Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, StumbleUpon, and everyone else understood that it was the power users that drove the site. Digg and Propeller where the two who never got that and both paid a horrible price for it while all other social sites grew and continue to succeed.

    2) It was the Tech communities assumption that this new Digg was going to be a rebirth and an effort to bring back Digg like it was.

    I saw it for what it was right away, which is a really cheap way to buy a ton of traffic, link equity, social profiles with millions of follows, and a ton of media coverage.. for a mere $500k. That is like maybe $.10 per legit follower among the social profiles they got alone!!

    They wanted to build a landing page for their data and their new social search engine and this is what that was going to be all along.

    It was never ever intended to be the rebirth of the old Digg.

    What it ends up being is a huge jump start to by bypass and replace sites like to build a Twitter and Facebook aggregate online portal, which is about the last thing most people really feel they need.

    • Alan

      Absolutely spot on $500k for the backlink/social profile is extremely cheap. Hell if I new it was for sale I would have given them $600-700k easy!

      With the right kind of theming and staffing and with a little effort you could have a news site to rivel lady huffington.

      What shame it looks like they already got this totally wrong.

    • Stuart McHenry

      Thanks Brent! I always respect your opinion and appreciate your insights.

      I do think there is value in the domain and the history of the brand whether it’s social following or branding or both. The article was geared more for what they are leaving on the table. It just seems they are losing quite a bit of their investment with some of these mistakes.

      How much of the Digg traffic is coming from those 14 million pages that are now 404’s?

      I think it’s better that they made some drastic changes but it appears they have removed most of the community aspects. IMO the lack of community is the most disheartening aspect of the new Digg.

    • Dan

      IIRC, v4 of Digg was an attempt to stop all of the gaming, but without resetting the internal karma scoring of the users. Kevin Rose expressed that he was happy with the overall tone of Digg, and didn’t want to mess with that.

      IMO, Digg’s problems began when they started de-emphasizing the social networking aspect of their site. They did away with user message boards. They killed story recommendations to your friends. They integrated Facebook logins, a competing social networking site. They removed the Friend Activity page, that let you track all of the activity of your friends. They stopped telling you what friends dugg your comments. They introduced story auto-subs that pushed the user out of the way.

      The new Digg is a shocker, to be sure… but if you think about it, this is what Digg was on track to become, anyway: A story site that relies heavily on other social networking sites.

      I was a heavy user. I would spend hours at a time on the site. I posted over 13k messages in seven years. I have absolutely no use for the new Digg.

  • Jeff Vargas

    I use to visit digg but the new site has nothing for me. My profile is gone and I dont get the new design. Digg has lost me as a user.

    • wigan footie

      I don’t understand were as my profile gone :(( i don’t want to stop using Digg but its looking like a I’m going to .

      • Taut Web

        Well, to be honest, what I am so sorry about is I lost hundreds of backlinks from Digg. I never cheated digg. People voted as they wanted to. And now, the new Digg is nothing but a dead old newspaper trying to be welcomed in the web 2.0 era….

  • Ben

    Yikes!!! What in the world are they smoking over there??

  • Gerald Weber

    I have to second Brent’s sentiments here. It’s ridiculous to say that Digg powers users or “User Mobs” killed Digg.

    This article is clearly coming from someone that either did not understand or engage in the platform/community very much. These core users are what kept the awesome content coming into the site day in and day out. They put a lot of their blood sweat and tears into the site and this was THE driving force behind the sites greatness. As Brent stated Digg did not understand this and this was their biggest downfall.

    “Mob users’ didn’t kill Digg., Digg killed Digg.

    • Stuart McHenry


      Maybe my point wasn’t clear enough but the article isn’t about why Digg failed in the first place but rather what they are doing wrong now. I’m sure we all can argue for days on what went wrong with Digg and you are right that it wasn’t a single factor. It was several factors that lead up to their decline.

      “This article is clearly coming from someone that either did not understand or engage in the platform/community very much.”

      You are right I was only a member for 6 years and only had a little over 12,000 Diggs and not 50,000 like some… I probably didn’t get it. 😉

      I understood just as much as anyone how Digg worked. I also understand many of the tricks the top users used to gain votes, heck I used some myself. We could easily talk about how many of the top users had multiple accounts, multiple IP’s and systems in place to get their paid content to the homepage but again this is not what the article is about.

      BTW, please don’t get me wrong there were many outstanding members of the Digg community that I felt contributed and added lots of value.

  • Nick Stamoulis

    Do what know what happened to the links on the old Digg site. Did all of that vanish with the “upgrade” and are now part of the 14 million 404 pages?

    • Stuart McHenry

      As of this comment 99% of the pages are coming up 404. Most of the links are still in place but they are not helping the new Digg out at all. Not to mention it’s a bad user experience when people click the pages and get 404’s.

    • Dan

      Betaworks claims that they are preserving the old Digg, and are looking for a way to put all of that content back on the intertubes in read-only format. Not sure of the value of that.

  • Ricky

    Seriosly, they have lost their mind. I have been a regular user of Digg and have been involved in lot of other things. Digg was my favorite tool to get latest news in my niche, but now….it sucks to the core.

    The new design is simply horrible. There was nothing wrong with new design. All they wanted to do is to remove voting button to stop users from manipulating it. You have to live with spam. There is no way you can eliminate spam cmpletely. Either live with it or get killed. Good bye Digg. I ain’t going to cmeback since I’ve lost my 3 years of data. To hell with your plans of givng it back to the community at the later stage.

  • limo hire durban

    Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, StumbleUpon, and everyone else understood that it was the power users that drove the site. Digg and Propeller where the two who never got that and both paid a horrible price for it while all other social sites grew and continue to succeed.