4 Dangers Of Digg’s New Focus On Publisher ‘Community’

In the eyes of TechCrunch Editor Michael Arrington, Digg’s Biggest Problem Is Its Users And Their Constant Opinions On Things. These opinions are essentially worthless even though they come from people who actually want to use a site like digg and participate in it’s community. His suggestion for how to improve digg is to assume that people will be satisfied with how digg decides you should use their site. End of story.

One group of users Arrington does think digg ought to pay attention to is the “community” of publishers [say, like… I dunno, the folks who run TechCrunch?] with features like automatic article submissions that feature prepackaged headlines, descriptions and categories.

I don’t have to really justify why this is an awful idea or explain why it’s dancing dangerously close to allowing digg to become an unnecessary service that mimics other popular sites (“Twitter for sharing news links”) — , but then again maybe I do:

1) Prepackaged Submissions Are Pointless:
Sometimes reporters can’t write succinct headlines and descriptions. I am a reporter. I’ve worked for publications who specifically hire out a person to write headlines and rewrite lede paragraphs to carry the point more effectively. Basically, they need at least one person who’s sole responsibility is to make everything “POP” just a little bit better. Well, with sites like digg and reddit, there is a near endless supply of people who read content and attempt to make it pop better for a broader audience within their community.

2) Community Cannibalization
By allowing publishers to dictate the experience Digg users have with content will mean you’ll be relying on other communities to keep digg afloat. But those communities aren’t unique to digg, they belong to the publisher. You’ll push whatever community members that still care about Digg to chose other communities. When this happens, those members will stop coming to digg and instead visit publications with a community presence all their own.

3) Unique Front Pages and/or Profiles = A Service. (NOT Community)
Allowing me to more precisely choose the news I prefer to read will make my Digg profile / unique front page a service. I might see activity from a handful of friends… some people will dominate their profiles with friend activity… but mostly they won’t. They’ll read only what they want, which can become boring and predictable. That’s never really a good thing.

4) De-emphasizing The Front Page = R.I.P. Digg Effect.
Taking away emphasis on the front page is insane considering the reason for visiting the site is to get news that was chosen by a community of people rather than procured by one (or two, or seven or etc.) source of people who manage every intricate detail. If I’m directed and encouraged to use my profile rather than the community’s assessment of links, I’ll probably see lots of TechCrunch posts or other articles I probably would have read even if digg didn’t exist. Since there isn’t a public platform for announcements where every user always looks, I doubt many would share opinions and participate in discussion the way they currently do.

Honestly, I’m concerned that my once favorite place for community selected news will devolve into something very un-digg-like. However, this is the very beginning and I’m more than willing to see how it plays out.