Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Digg and community participation

Interesting stats (from a not-yet-released DuggTrends article) posted by Richard MacManus on Digg:
Top 10 users contributed 1792 of the frontpage stories - i.e 29.8%

Top 100 contributed 3324 stories i.e 55.28%

There are 444,809 registered users, out of these only 2287 contributed one or more story for the period of 6/19/2006 9:31:28 PM to 7/30/2006 4:41:34 PM
It appears Digg is run by a very small community, just a couple hundred users. In this sense, it may be similar to the much older Kuro5hin.

Update: The Duggtrends article is up now.


Eric Goldman said...

Heavy contribution by a small number of users may be universally true at community-managed sites. It was true at Epinions, and it is true at Wikipedia. Eric.

Greg Linden said...

Absolutely. But it seems common, when people talk about these community-managed sites, to overstate the level of participation with colorful descriptions like "true, free, [and] democratic".

The truth appears to be that a very small number of people determine the content on Digg, Wikipedia, Reddit, Kuro5hin, and similar sites.

Anonymous said...

It seems to be almost a fact of nature that this sort of Zipfian distribution that you are seeing at social sites is true almost anywhere in nature. The size of lakes in Minnesota also follows this same distribution.. with a relatively small number of lakes holding the largest amounts of water.. and a long tail of small lakes each holding small amounts of water.

That said, just because something obeys a Zipf distribution does not necessarily make it un-democratic. Think about level of participation in the U.S. political arena. I'll bet it follows the same sort of distribution.. with a (relatively) small number of people heavily involved at a number of levels.. and a long tail of people who only vote in presidential elections, once every four years. (Or, if you live in Florida or Ohio.. a long tail of people who don't get to vote at all ;-)

Does that make the U.S. policial arena undemocratic? Yes, I agree that the long tail should shorten, and more people should move toward the head..and become more politically involved at all levels But it seems like an almost incontrovertible fact of nature that this won't happen. There will always be a fat head of relatively few but active players, and a longer tails of many, less active players. But that fact, by itself, doesn't make the system undemocratic.

What I am trying to say is that "true, free [and democratic]" must not necessarily imply "uniformly distributed", don't you think? Or do you feel that if something is not uniformly distributed, it is not democratic?

Greg Linden said...

I agree, Jeremy. But, I think these folks also make the claim that these systems use everyone in the community with equal weight. For example, the very next sentence in Kevin's post is, "All users on these sites are treated equally, there aren't anchors, navigators, explorers, opera-ers, or editors."

Yes, obviously false, but prominent people are making these claims.

Kunal said...

It will be interesting to see how the composition of Digg will change over the upcoming years. What source will the next generation of hackers turn to? I'd be curious to know if there is a sizable overlap between Digg and Kuro5hin users (I don't think it's that big of a number).

Anonymous said...

I think wikipedia is not like digg.
Wikipedia has a long tail contribution were as Digg is hit driven.
And that makes a huge difference.

1)There is a psychological stop with contribution on website like digg. On wikipedia it is smaller. (ranking is probably one of the reasons)

2)There will always be Hard-core contributors but larger crowdsourcing is on its way (it demands a different approach). On digg it would be voters.

Someone sold it's digg account on ebay ;-). N°75.

I am actually studing contributors for estimating the crowsourcing on, if you want I'd be happy to share the results with you.

Anonymous said...

Greg, yeah, even if folks are prominent, they're not always with it. I once asked Kevin Rose how he knew if Digg was "good" or not. I.e. how he did evaluation. He started to tell me about TREC/Cranfield-style evaluation for search engines. I replied that I already knew about all that (heh), and that it wasn't really relevant, since Digg wasn't providing an ad hoc retrieval service. So I asked him again how he did evaluation. He didn't really have an answer.

I think he thought I was funny to even ask the question. It was kinda this unspoken, "Uh, have you ever used Digg? Then you know that we're good."

That didn't cut it for me.

Steven said...

I'm with you Greg. I don't find systems such as digg all that interesting. It feels to me like what reaches the top is always the lowest common denominator stuff.