Latest Digg Payola Exposed!

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Thanks to my friend and top Digg user #6 Karim Yergaliyev (supernova17), we bring to you the latest edition of ‘Digg Payola Exposed!’
Note: I replaced the email addresses to reflect the Digg user names of the individuals that received the email.
>From: Alex Hunter <>
>Date: Feb 1, 2007 1:37 PM
>Subject: Hey Fellow Digg User… I need a favour
>To: digitalgopher, CLIFFosakaJAPAN, aaaz, gwjc, supernova17, chrisek, BloodJunkie, miekuel, aidenag, dirtyfratboy

>I need a favor. I run a website
>Would you get my website to the Digg first page, and if successful I’ll pay $500.
>The site is of interest to most Digg users anyhow, it’s just people only listen to top Digg users.
>If interested please email back.
The biggest mistake you can make as a content producer is to try and pay the top community members to submit/promote your content. If you truly believe that the content is of interest to the community, as Mr. Hunter does, then you are much better of either submitting the content yourself, or waiting for someone to submit it naturally.
The same user was also recently banned from for using more than 20 fake accounts to artificially promote his content to the home page of the site.
The overall purpose of this article is to show that you should not be paying people for Digg submissions, but instead you should be trying to provide value to the Digg community. If you can provide value to the community you will be able to create buzz and potentially have a successful product.

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  • Stupid people, If your site is really that good and you make a sincere (non-spammy) effort to promote it, then maybe you’ll make the Digg homepage.
    Asking like this is just lame. Don’t people realize how horrible Digg would be if all the top users sold out to the highest bidder?

  • And the front page of their site is an attempt to game for a free iPod or popcorn.
    Isn’t the nature of the site illegal as well? It looks like their business model is linking to copyrighted content on video networks.

  • So the going rate for getting a story to the front page of Digg is now $500? Good to know 🙂

  • He made not have made it to the front page of digg but he made it to the front page of techmeme and this blog alright.

  • Digg has been trash for the last 6 months. Welcome to Google’s spam problems, except without the PhD’s help to solve them.

  • It’s not surprising that people make offers like this. I’d actually be surprised if they weren’t made. But are top Digg users really influenced by offers like this? If so, that’s the news story more than the spammy offer itself.

  • It’s not the hard to game the digg system. Just write your next article and title it
    “Top 10 Tips on How-To get Digg Payola”

  • “Bookmark Us At Del.ico.ous, And Win a Years Supply of Popcorn!”

  • Seems to be over now. Digg will remove the digg user top list.

  • Dinesh

    Mike, i agree that people won’t be able to approach top digg users once list is removed; but don’t you think top digg users still can approach new startups and ask money to digg their website? I agree that most of the top Digg users would be honest and believe in the way these social site should be function; but there might be some bad apples….and you find some in every community.

  • MikeEast

    Paying someone to digg your startup might not be correct when it comes to Blogosphere ethics, but if your startup project actually ends up on Digg first page for 500$, it is problably the best you can get for $500 in terms of marketing – everybody knows this which of course is why they give in to their desperation and put the blogosphere ethics aside.
    However, getting caught, like Hunter and Whyte, is so lame. If existed, they would most likely make the first page there.
    Bottom line is that in order to get a startup make the first page on Digg, one have to come up with a truly exceptional idea..
    Which is exactly what I will do this weekend..

  • Dinesh

    MikeEast, are you trying to setup this weekend??

  • MikeEast

    Nah.. But I did check the domain – which was already taken of course..
    I have other plans.. you’ll see..

  • I think removing the list of top Digg users is a horrible move for Digg. It will not motivate any of their top users to continue Digging. I agree the practice of them getting paid to Digg is something that has to stop, but removing the list of top Diggers is a bad move.
    This will have bad long term consequences.
    Idea Thunderdome

  • This just goes further to show the incredible value of a Digg front page story. As unethical and exploitative as it sounds, the top Digg users, who have an incredible advantage, not due to recently removed Top Users list, but due to all of the friends they have, should start taking advantage of the incredible influence they have over the Digg community. As an example, a single post I wrote that made it to the Digg front page has literally launched my blog from 1-2 visitors a day to over 500 uniques a day, with 35,000 hits coming from Digg. It has now been featured on Lifehacker, linked from dozens of blogs, and translated into 6 languages, all because of the Digg front page exposure.
    I did not pay anyone to vote it up, or use other sneaky tactics, as the post got Dugg on its own merit. But it’s easy to see how commercial interests are drooling over a lucrative Digg front-page story, if only for the backlinks and long tail exposure that is sure to follow.

  • What I would like to know is at what price would supernova17 have said “WTF, okay, I’ll do it!” $1,000 $5,000 $10,000 ?
    Me, I think $10,000 (using an escrow account of my choice so I’d know it was for real) is where I’d start to seriously consider it.
    Problem is, I know many who would jump at the $500. 🙁
    I think that you guys were premature. You should have waited a few days to see if the offending site made it to the first page. Then releasing this story would have been a bombshell and you would have mad crazy stoopid traffic like the Cartoon Network LOL!

  • haha, quite interesting , if that starts to happens i am sure digg will lose its flavor

  • Tyler D

    Joe Whyte is a freaking idiot. I see him spamming all the blogs and forums under Joe Whyte, Rockyfied, Seoteam, and Lunarpages.
    A lesson in how NOT to do SEO and SMM

  • Jimbo

    I dont think he is an idiot. I think he is a capitalist. I think he should have been more secretive but I do not think it is unethical to pay a top digger when valuable stories are being submitted to digg everyday and not getting ANY attention at all because of the profile it was submitted by. Basically what I am saying is that the top diggers hold the keys and in my opinion that is not ethical. I think that is a major flaw in the digg algorithm.
    You need to look at people paying top diggers like this:
    Stories are more likely to be published in a magazine if they come from a staff writer, trusted source or frequent publisher right? Most likely because they are more trusted then a random email that comes into their office. Such is digg, the top diggers are the trusted sources and creates an unfair advantage over other digg users. Its a digg monopoly people. Doesn’t anyone have a problem with this????
    BTW Microsoft just got “outed” for paying a wikipedia editor to change wikipedia articles about Microsoft to be written in a more favorable tone. This is COMPLETELY against the terms of service and this was the same time windows vista came out. Most of the attention was focused on wikipedia being a source that makes reality what the majority THINKs is reality (again this “reality” is based on a small number of wiki editors so its really “their reality”). Totally unfair.

  • Is getting paid to digg really that bad? They aren’t paid for contributing anyway, and as long as they truly believe the content they are digging is of value to the community, why not? Everything else has been commitized, why not your ability to place an article on the home page of a site that can increase traffic thousands of percent.