By this time, all of you have read about the new Digg, Digg 4. Some of you may have even tried it. Reactions to the new site seem to be mixed, with a vocal number of people saying that they dislike the changes. Those changes have been covered extensively elsewhere, so I won’t get into that here.
While much of the backlash has been focused on the technical changes, like the revised UI, following features, and changes to how “digging” works, the change that really annoys users and small publishers alike is the “selling out” of Digg.
Last week and this week started with the front page of Digg looking like something straight out of Mashable or reddit. While both are great sites, the variety of stories that Digg users have gotten used to was nullified.
Content will come and go, but no one site has a monopoly on quality content, something the new Digg does not seem to acknowledge. Kevin Rose seems to have completely sold out the userbase, the “power Diggers”, and has aligned Digg more closely to the large publishers. While the new Digg does away with the power of so called “power Diggers”, it creates a new monster — the massive publisher. CNN, Mashable, and others all have thousands of followers on the new Digg, and their combined follower count gives them a huge advantage over any one user, or even group of users.
Some have called the new site akin to an RSS reader — since many of the stories are coming from an RSS feed in many cases!
It’s not all bad though. Perhaps the new Digg is an acknowledgement of the interests of the userbase on Digg in general — give the user more power, and instead of seeing more variety, you see exactly the same thing you would expect any mainstream, large, community to consume. Big media.
Kevin Rose claimed that the new Digg would create a new age of the “tastemaker”, of content curators. That may be, if the users decide to remove the large media companies from their follows list. That may be optimistic; it may simply be too much micromanaging for most people.
I don’t know what Digg’s analytics look like, but I would assume that most users simply consume the content on the front page — they don’t know (or care) about the upcoming links. If the front page continues to resemble an RSS feed, users may flee the site, as the tastemakers– the former power Diggers find that their “tastes” no longer have much of an audience, due to being crowded out by much larger entities.
Can Digg be fixed? Kevin just stepped down, they have a new CEO, and maybe they can turn the boat around. Even if they manage to slow down the flow of declining users, it’s an open question on whether Digg can return to it’s glory days — maybe Kevin should have sold out back when Digg was was flying high, and Kevin Rose was on the cover of Businessweek.