Sunday, January 01, 2006

Digg, spam, and most popular lists

Digg is a news site that allows users to submit articles and shows the most highly rated articles -- articles people "dig" -- prominently on the front page.

The site has grown rapidly in recent months, so rapidly that Wired Magazine gushed that "Digg Just Might Bury Slashdot".

Predictably, the growth increased the incentives to spam. I have seen some spam on Digg recently, so I wasn't surprised to see an announcement from the Digg team about upcoming anti-spam features. Since the same list is shown to everyone, it makes an attractive target for spammers.

I am still skeptical about Digg. Yahoo, CNN, Bloglines, and many others already have lists of most popular or most highly rated articles.

Spam is one problem, but the bigger issue is that most popular lists are always a poor match to individual interests. They tilt toward the sensationalistic and frivolous, toward the mass market and away from the tail. It is a simple herding of the hordes, not an effort to uncover the wisdom of the crowd.

See also my previous post, "Getting the crap out of user-generated content".

See also Steven Cohen's post, "Digg fights spam".

Update: Alex Bosworth posts some interesting thoughts on spam in social bookmarking systems.

Update: Russell Beattie says, " is ... really full of crap ... The links produced are pure garbage. It seems that the ranking system they’ve created ends up promoting only the most sensationalist headlines to the front page."

Update: Rashmi Sinha has an excellent post arguing that Digg's "social structure is more like a mob" because Digg fails to maintain "independence of members from one another."

Update: Fourteen months later, Nick Wilson at Search Engine Land writes:
The Digg community is out of control. Nobody would argue otherwise, it just remains to be seen whether they can turn it around and get the more aggressive and abusive elements of the mob to stop frothing at the mouth long enough to realize that they're ruining the site.


bonhamled said...

If you are interested in digg and diggs world maybe you will find interesting this note:

(in spanish but translation available)

Feel free to make any comment you like

Anonymous said...

Greg, I love it.

The spam list, not the actual site will become the target.

Personally I'm not sure I enjoy the wisdom of the crowd effect being used to do someone else's housekeeping.

you would have to think through the same issues as what a initial submission would be, doubling the effort required for a user.

thought 1. is this spam

thought 2 . am I interested enough to digg it