One of the top users on Digg is supernova17. An amazing 49% of all stories he has submitted have made it to the front page. Below is an interview with supernova17 about what’s going on at Digg and what he sees in the coming months for Digg and the world of social media. This is the first in a series of interviews which PandemicBlog will be conducting with movers and shakers in the worlds of social media and marketing.
How long have you been a Digg user?
I’ve been a member of Digg for over three years. I first registered back on February 2nd, 2005.
Are there other social sites that you are active on?
I have user accounts on probably all major social media sites out there. However I try to focus all my time and energy on Digg. I’ve been trying to be more active on StumbleUpon more recently.
If Digg is your favorite, why is that so?
I first heard about Digg when Kevin Rose was presenting a segment about the site on TechTV back in fall of 2004. I loved the idea of user generated content and lurked on the site for a few months before registering, so you can say that I’ve been following it since day one. I think the reason why I keep coming back to Digg is the uniqueness of the content. Also, over last few years I became friends with a lot of users on the site and I still talk to most of them almost daily. I know what kind of story submissions to expect from each one of them.
Seth Godin says that Digg has no “real-world” equivalent. It is a completely new thing. Do you agree with this? If you do, what needs and desires do you think this “new thing” has filled in people?
I think he hit the nail on the head. Digg was probably the first site of its kind. Digg is kind of like your own little New York Times edition that you can pick up and read on the subway; the difference here that the ordinary people like you and me find and promote content to front page. In traditional “old school” media outlets, you have half a dozen people who get to pick what will be read and seen by readers or viewers. On Digg, it’s impossible for a couple of people to pick what gets on front page each day. If everyone thinks that it’s something cool or interesting, only then will it reach homepage for all to see and enjoy.
What are the most profound changes that have seen taking place on Digg within the last 12 months?
There are two major things that changed the way Digg functions today. I think it’s no longer a site where geeks or nerds came to read technology related news. Over the last year or so they have been adding all sorts of new categories like politics and entertainment. Politics is the second most popular category on Digg. At any given moment during the day you will probably see two or three political stories on the front page. Another big change that took place just recently was the complete overhaul of the promotion algorithm. The staff wanted to give more power to newer users because the so-called “super” users were controlling almost fifty percent of all front page content according to some sources.
What would you say is your biggest issue with Digg? What do you want to see changed?
The biggest issue today is the new promotion algorithm. The change resulted in stale content on the front page. Digg originally wanted to give more power to the regular members and encourage new users to submit stories. However, the change backfired and now it takes up to 100 diggs to reach homepage. This change made it harder for regular active users to promote their stories. I think Digg should trust the old time users who are known to provide good content and not make them have almost 200 votes on each story just to hit front page.
What could happen that would make you stop using Digg?
I think I would stop submitting stories if the site ends up being bought by a huge media company. The new owner will most likely try to implement its own content into Digg and that goes against the site’s core idea of random user-generated stories.
In your time on Digg, have you seen an increase in the number overt marketing attempts?
The number of people visiting Digg each day grows bigger and bigger every single day. Marketers and SEOs want to capitalize on that huge free traffic. It only takes just a few clicks to reach homepage if your story is interesting enough. It’s just a matter of how you present it to the members.
How do you think the Digg community feels about marketing attempts on Digg? Why do they feel that way?
You will never see stories about marketing or making money with blogs on Digg. I think the users look down upon those who try to promote such things. They want to see general news, humor, pictures and videos instead of guides on how to monetize your site.
What are the mistakes that you see people making when they are trying to market or promote something using Digg?
If you want to promote or market something on Digg, don’t do it the obvious way. Try to present useful information in the post related to your content. For example Top 10 lists or top reasons about a particular thing always get more votes.
What do you think the next 12 months hold for Digg?
It will be interesting to see how the 2008 Presidential elections will be perceived on Digg. The politics section will never overtake technology, but it will come pretty close. Also, I’m eager to see how the site will deal with the huge number of users. These days you have to check at least 10 or so pages in the upcoming section to find good stories.
What do you think the next 12 months holds for social news and media?
Social media will continue to grow, more and more websites are implementing “Digg this” or “Stumble” buttons. New York Times online technology section now has a similar engine that promotes stories based on user votes. I think more major news websites will follow this trend of giving little more power to the users.
We’d like to thank supernova17 for agreeing to this interview and sharing his unique knowledge of Digg. Keep an eye out for future interviews from the social media world.