The Degradation of Digg’s Front Page

SMS Text

I’ve found myself visiting Digg less and less recently. The reason? The content on Digg’s front page.
The problem isn’t necessarily that the content is bad, in fact most of it is good, but more and more Digg’s front page is turning into a rehashed list of stories that are already being well covered on the Internet. A visit to sites like TechMeme and Megite usually yield many of the same stories that are on Digg’s front page and in fact a lot of them are usually on the news aggregators well before they make it to the popular page on on Digg. Anyone with a semi-decent collection of RSS feeds in their reader will have seen a good majority of the stories that will appear on Digg’s front page hours before they get there.

Scanning the front page of Digg, I see a constant stream of stories that I have either already seen, or rubbish that I have no desire to read. Add to that the site’s scalability issues and massive slowdown when browsing while signed in, and I hardly even sign in anymore. Do I really need to digg any of the five Apple TV articles that I’d already read hours ago or yesterday? No.
After talking with several other Digg users, I know I’m not alone in my thoughts on this. So what is the reason for the “mainstreaming” of Digg’s front page?
The total number of submissions is up, with the number of stories in the ‘Upcoming Stories’ section is constantly hovering between 6,000 and 6,500. So it has nothing to do with a lack of content on Digg. But instead I believe that some of the more interesting stories that aren’t covered by several other big sites are having trouble being found.
This could be an indirect result of the removal of the top user list. I say this as a former top user of Digg, but not because the top users would always submit the quality content, but more because they would “digg-deep” and find great stuff that was already on Digg as well and in turn their thousands of combined friends would find and digg some of those stories, pushing some of them to the front page. With the removal of the top user list, participation of many (not all) of the top users has certainly gone down and this combined with the mass-burying of stories for no reason has in my estimation, killed off some of the quality outlying content that used to shine on Digg.
More then the top users though, I do believe that uncontrolled and unreasonable burying is hurting the timely representation of useful content on Digg. It may be time for Digg to start revealing the names of users who bury any given story, just as they display who dugg it. Netscape of course does this, and it seems to add a bit of integrity to the whole process. Digg certainly doesn’t want anyone to buy into the notion that there is a ‘bury brigade‘ out there, but until there is a bit more transparency in the whole process, it seems kind of hard to believe.
The idea is not to present the doom of Digg. Digg is still as strong as ever in terms of being a driving force of massive amounts of traffic towards interesting content. There are still many great stories that see the front-page of Digg, but there are many more that can never quite get that far anymore.

Download: Social Media Strategy
Where the rubber meets the road: A look at SEJ's own social media strategy.