Digg’s Problems Aren’t Going to Be Easily Fixed

By  |  Thursday, October 9, 2008 at 11:16 am

There are stories on the Internets today about Kevin Rose’s talk in London during the Future of Web Apps conference. Specifically, Rose was tapped to to talk about the future of online news, and he was surprisingly candid about Digg’s problems while there.

A common critique of the site is that while it may sport some impressive user numbers — some 30 million per month, it only has a userbase of three million members. Of those, it’s likely that far less actually participate in “digging.” This means a fairly small number of Digg’s users are essentially driving what everyone else sees.

What results is a skewed sense of news, and has led to the criticism of the site, much of it warranted. It is also what led Netscape to create its own clone of the popular social news site (now defunct), and also gave birth to Yahoo Buzz.

Both those services did or have some editorial control over submissions. Digg has repeatedly refused to exert any over its own site, preferring to hand the keys over to Diggers.

Therein lies the problem. Rose is lamenting that the site needs to move beyond geekdom and get “real world relevance.” The way Digg is currently set up, that’s just not going to happen. When your user base is generally the same subset of online users, they are going to probably like the same thing.

Stories of a particular type will always rise to the top, while stories that may have relevance to others stay buried. Digg’s challenge is to start mixing it up, and giving other types of stories more visibility.

But that’s not just going to happen. Digg users aren’t going to start digging stories that are anathemic to their interests. In some cases they may need to be force fed them, which it is apparent that the company has no intention of doing.

Personalization may work, and from the reporting I’m seeing of the conference that seems to be the route Digg wants to take. But it still does not solve the problem Digg currently has, which is news filtered through folks with roughly the same exact worldview.

That’s not going to be fixed by redesigning your website.

Be the first to comment

Read more: , ,

Comments are closed.