There’s More to Digg Than Meets the Eye

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Although the concept of [Digg]( seems very simple, it is actually very complicated. Most people think stories are submitted and the ones that are at the top of the upcoming section are the ones that are going to get promoted to the homepage next.

The screen shot above shows that the first two top stories have 68 diggs and 59 diggs, respectively. Both of them are in the “World & Business” category so you would think that the story with 68 diggs will make the homepage first, right?

Well, what actually happened was the “Germany authorities say hell no to Scientology. That-a-boy Germany!” story reached the homepage before the other story which had more diggs. This is a simple example of the fact that the [Digg algorithm]( takes more factors into account then just the number of Diggs. Here are some of the things it may be taking into account:

* The identity of the diggers – If the same 20 people are digging each story it may seem like they are gaming the system or they are all “friends”. Digg takes this into account and this could cause a story to require more diggs before it reaches the homepage.
* MY#1 – If a handful of users mark a story as MY#1 before it hits the homepage, this could mean that the story is valuable which may cause it to go to the homepage quicker.
* Timing – When breaking news gets submitted to Digg, such as about the iPhone or the hanging of Saddam Hussein you can expect these stories to get tons of Diggs within a short period of time. If Digg sees stories getting a lot of diggs within a short period of time they might promote these stories to the homepage because they can be considered breaking news.
* Compulsive diggs – Some users are known for digging 500 stories in one day. The chances are they are not reading the majority of these stories and they are just clicking on the “digg this” button. Votes from these users may not count the same as votes from someone who only diggs 20 or 30 stories in a day.
* The identity of the submitter – Users who submit on a regular basis and have been using Digg for over a year may have more power than new users because they have built up a reputation.
* Number of buries – There are two types of votes on Digg. The first is digging a story and the second is burying a story. If a story gets buried a few times it could require many more diggs before it can make the homepage and if it gets buried too many times it usually gets removed from the upcoming section.
* Time of day – If most of the stories in the queue (upcoming section) are not getting too many diggs the system may promote a story just to keep the homepage fresh.
* The Digg crew – Kevin Rose admitted in the past that people at Digg are constantly [monitoring]( it for quality control. Who knows, if they like a story, they may just bump it up to the homepage.
Can you think of other things that may be factors in Digg’s algorithm? If so feel free to share by leaving a comment.

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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  • Neil Patel

    Yuri, thanks for the comment. Many people know about the Digg algorithm, but this is just my take on it. 🙂
    The [article]( you mentioned is about a Digg algo tweak that took place a few months ago and how some stories had 100 diggs and were still in the upcoming section. If you notice, Cristian also linked to me in the article, I broke the news. 😉

  • kelvin newman

    Well old news or new news, it certainly clarified a few things I had assumed about digg.
    It’s the visual display of the number of diggs that makes the algo’s impact more interesting. Each low digg story doing well acts like a little puzzle.

  • Jacob Wyke

    The story link itself could be used to see how trusted the website is – allowing more trusted sources stories to get to the home page before the less reputable sites.
    I believe Kevin Rose also mentioned that the algorithm is different for each category – although I dont know if this is the core algorithm itself or just variables fed to it.

  • Sreejith Ramakrishnan

    Hey, Yuri, thanks for letting us know about that article. It really is valuable.
    Anyway, Digg algorithm is developing. Did you check the Digg Swarm and Stack. They’re ongoing experiments.
    Yuri, I know you. Vangogh a.k.a Steven Bradley is my friend. Good to see you. 🙂

  • Dharmesh Shah

    Other things that may impact the algorithm:
    1. Number of comments on an article
    2. The number of “blog this” clicks for an article