The Drill Down 025B – RevoltNation, Part 2: Jay and Kevin Respond

On Wednesday January 23rd, a core group of submitters to social bookmarking site, represented here by Digg users Andy, Mu, Reg, and David Cohn, collected all their major grievances against Digg and issued them in a statement. We discussed these issues in a live forum, with over 150 Digg users in attendance. In this segment,Jay Adelson & Kevin Rose, founders & operators of Digg, address those concerns.
(Apologies for the poor audio quality of this weeks’ episode. Major technical issues!)

Show links:
Satisfaction – People-Powered Customer Service

Top Digg Users Revolt Against Algorithm Change on Site
Near-Revolt on Digg Underscores Site’s Dependence on Its Users

Feedback is absolutely welcome, but positive or negative, let’s keep it constructive. Flamers will be deleted.

15 thoughts on “The Drill Down 025B – RevoltNation, Part 2: Jay and Kevin Respond

  1. Pingback: The Drill Down » Blog Archive » Drill Bits 024 has been moved to 1/28

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  3. Nice of Kevin and Jay to come on the show. They risked a lot but it was worth it.

    Like you guys said, a forum about digg is much needed for times like these. On the other hand, I can see how a forum could also be breeding ground for ‘digg my stories’ post which is kind of redundant.

    But if only this was more organized, so many people try to talk at once and Zaibatsu’s a nice guy and all but his voice is a bit whiney/annoying and how many times must he say “we’re on digg everyday, we submit stories”? Also think this could feel less uncomfortable to listen to if you guys lighten up a bit, put a little sense of humor in there.

    I don’t see folks like facebook doing anything like this, when they first opened up their blog with comments enabled, they quickly closed it and ever since then, it feels there’s no line of communication.

  4. The excited stuttering makes this difficult to listen to. I can understand when people get frustrated it happens… but please try to calm down and emulate the speaking style of Jay and Kevin, so that the points you are making doesn’t come across as whining.

    Thank you for your contribution. I will be frequenting your site.

  5. Where do these chats “meetings” take place with the top Digg users. I’m ranked a low 657 or something in the Digg top users, but I would be very interested to be a part of a council that gives input on the future of Digg etc…

  6. I repost this reply from reader ededit from the comments to this article:

    While this reply is critical, it’s also very well thought-out and stated:

    It seems to me that the chief problem here is a lack of consistent definition/lack of understanding of the relationship between Digg and its users. I’m not affiliated with Digg, so this is only a guess, but my guess would be that when the original idea was pitched it went something like this:

    Let’s have a site where a mass of users, maybe millions of users, will all contribute stories of interest to them and then that same mass of users will casually vote on stories that they agree are interesting. The stories that are voted most highly will be promoted to the front page according to some rating/scoring system, where they’ll be most visible. The result will be kind of a loosely ordered collection of stories that are compelling especially when considered as a whole.

    I think that’s the rough sketch of the idea.

    That is an entirely different thing than having a select, small group of people in charge of the content of a site. That’s more of an editorial review process. It seems to be almost the opposite of what Digg is supposed to be. Honestly, I use Digg in a way that I think is much more typical or representative of the millions of other users than any of the hundreds of people interested in reading a chat transcript or listening to the audio of a standoff between Digg and a handful of contributers.

    If you want to be consulted about the content of a news site, then get a job working for or one of the endless other similar sites. As far as lack of communication, it would almost seem to be a requirement of Digg’s model, not unlike what Google does or the people who are responsible for rating restaurants.

    The more people know about the process, the easier it is to game. The people who publish the Michelin Guide have been doing it this way (i.e. being secretive about the process) for over 100 years, so it’s certainly nothing new. If Google spelled out the full details of their ranking alrorithms, it would completely invalidate what they’re doing. I don’t see how it’s any different for Digg.

    As a contributer, you should be concerned about content, not your singular reputation. If you submit interesting content, and keep in mind that “interesting” is a highly subjective and variable concept, then its fate is linked to the effectiveness of the model.

    Again, this is not unlike Google. There’s an entire industry build around SEO and Google’s position has always been consistent: Do something legitimate, make sure the content has a well-formed structure, something that’s favorable to being indexed and don’t worry about the rest of it.

    It’s in Google’s best interest to return the most appropriate results. If that’s your site, then it will be returned at the top of the results. If it’s not your site, then it’s appropriate that your site not be returned at the top of the results.

    There’s already sufficient advantage to them in doing it this way. Their entire business hinges on it. They don’t need to disclose the details because the model is transparent even if the specifics of the operation aren’t.

    When you spend some time with Google you realize that if there’s an authoritative source for a term, it’s the one returned in response to a query. For example, if you do a search for Perl documentation, you get Perl documentation, and from the source you would expect. And that’s reliable regardless of any changes that they make in their algorithm.

    The people who have a problem are the middling operations; somebody who swears up and down that their shoe emporium for people with large feet is the most important large shoe operation in the world because they sell more shoes on the south side of Kansas City than anybody else within a 3/4-mile radius. The fact that they desperately want that to be true because they depend on it being true for their business to be successful, is not really Google’s problem.

    The same is true for Digg. I realize that there’s a small group of people operating on Digg who feel that they’re very important; even if only defined by the massive amount of time and effort that they’ve invested in someone eles’s business. I hate to break it to them, but that’s just not real.

    There’s a funny thing about being the top anything. It would seem to confer some sort of special status. But it really has nothing to do with the individual at the top. If the best anyone in anything were to disappear tomorrow, there would instantly be a new #1. What’s more, that person may rise to the challenge of being at the top to do as good a job or better than the person who held the job previously. It happens all the time.

    The people who are important to Digg work for Digg. Otherwise, we’re all the same. Would the service be different without a handful of people contributing a ton of stories? Probably. Would it be better or worse? I wouldn’t know one way or the other, and the point is, neither do you.

    By the way, I’m glad you feel good about the fact that Kevin Rose and whoever else showed up to your chat; that’s called being patronized. Do you know any more about the algorithm changes now than you did before? Did they promise to set things back to the way they were straight away? Or did they tell you ‘hey, we understand your concerns’, ‘you’re very important to us’, ‘going forward we’ll do everything we can to blah blah blah…’?

    All of that means absolutely nothing. And in response to that, you backed down, which was pretty much your only recourse in the first place. From the prospective of an objective observer, and someone who’s geniunely interested in seeing Digg being as good as it can be, I wish that they would have called the bluff. If there are issues, related to spam or otherwise being masked by a small group of people, then better remove the variable the obscuring the problems so that they can be resolved. Maybe next time.

  7. Ah, so you are in denial. Delete anything that proves you wrong. The masses will prevail over you!

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