The site that used to be the best place to scoop obscure tech articles and esoteric news stories still is — depending on who you ask. Like a fringe rock band that made it big from a pop single here, and a power ballad there, Digg must now face the scathing chirps of its early adopter fan base amid the deafening clamor of newbees. The latest thing that has Digg’s hardcore fans in a bunch? They (*gasp*) added (more) social networking features (which, by the way, are optional).
The most common complaint: The Digg faithful don’t want to see it turn into MySpace.
BusinessWeek first had the scoop:
The changes are just the first in a series of new features slated to debut by yearend. In October, Digg plans to add a section dedicated to images. The plans also call for a new function that will suggest stories, or potential Digg friends, to members based on the articles they have read. “There is going to be a section where you will see these suggestions of news items and pictures and videos based on what you have been looking at,” says [Digg co-founder Kevin] Rose. “It will find connections—people you constantly agree with and just don’t know it.”
Rose and [Digg co-founder Jay] Adelson hope the new social-networking capabilities will encourage users who only read articles on the site to become more engaged with the community. Currently, 15% to 20% of Digg’s audience are registered users. The vast majority of the 20-million-plus users, by Digg’s count, just read the posted stories. Adelson believes the ability to share information with a select group of people and craft a personal identity will encourage more passive users to get involved. “We are creating this in-between world for people who maybe don’t want to share information with the whole planet,” says Adelson. “We all have a short list of probably 5 to 10 people whom we feel compelled to share certain information with.”
Mashable‘s Adam Ostro corrals the fan’s comments on “DiggSpace” (not its real name).
First, from the BusinessWeek article:
“so how come businessweek gets this scoop before we do? i have to say, i’m a bit saddened. i am sick and tired of ’social networks’ and i really don’t want messages and friend lists and about me stuff. i like digg because it’s different and i hope that difference doesn’t erode with these new features. i’m going to block any of you sending me ‘digg this article’ messages.” – Canewediggit
“This is disappointing. While I was hoping for *some* of those features to be implemented, I don’t like the overall concept at all … The internet doesn’t need another MySpace, Facebook, Hi5, Orkut, Multiply, etc. social networking site.” – FyreGoddess
“Am I the only person who intentionally does not use the Digg friends feature? I agree with everyone else that I use this site because it does not have the socail networking aspect.” – MajorHertz
“What we need is a revised comment system, a pictures section, and decrease load times so that Firefox doesn’t screech to a halt rendering a page. Two things that have been requested forever but seem to go ignored.” – Dpknc84
“Kevin Rose: ‘Yeah, the users really wanted a pictures section but we didnt like the idea. Instead we’re giving them something totally fresh and exciting that really makes no practical sense.’” – Pbrane101
From the official Digg blog entry:
“I am a 22 year-old College Student seeking a girlfriend! Oh, sorry. I thought Digg was becoming a dating site…” – Wamzlee
“Anyone else think this seems a lot like Digg is trying to emulate Facebook?” – Floguy
“I don’t know man… with all that watching friend’s stuff and portrait pictures I’m getting worried that things will get too social, even girls might start Digging!!!!” – Joach
Guess you can’t please everybody… Still, a lot of the comments seem positive.
What do you think? Is Digg getting more democratic, or going stale?
It’s a bit ironic that Digg’s catching heat for copying other platforms — especially since it’s been copied more than any other social media platform (save for Friendster). The most recent so-called “Digg clone” comes from AOL. Read/WriteWeb‘s Marshall Kirkpatrick explains:
AOL’s social news site relaunched today under the new name Propeller. No longer “the new Netscape”, Propeller seems on face like a clone of a clone. There may, though, be much more going on underneath the surface. [...] The way the service works is interesting. For those unfamiliar, news on Netscape/Propeller is submitted by users but highlighted and shepherded by a team of paid power-users and editors. That paid team also does some original writing. The whole arrangement has been highly controversial since it launched in June of 2006. Paying power users was a move widely criticized, and not because they were hired away from other sites like Digg. Critics alleged that news discovery was best done for the love of it.
A social news site that hired people to tend the news also attracted users old enough to have jobs. Project head Tom Drapeau confirmed for me today that the user demographics of the site are older than other social news sites, something he says leads to a “better perspective on news.” He also told me that the number of paid Anchors and Scouts (the two job types) has almost tripled since the program was put in place.
Still, TechCrunch insists there are problems with Propeller — not the least of which is brand erosion. According to Duncan Riley:
The new old Netscape/ Propeller looks just like the old new Netscape, but with a new logo and URL. The old Netscape is now the new Netscape with the formerly new Netscape becoming the old new Netscape.
[...] Propeller has already hit some rocks, with news that spammers have found a way to get listed on Propeller: see here. Interesting for a site that is suppose to have human guides, Tramadol links appear in the results. A short guess: the new name came with a big downsizing.
Pesky brand erosion… it’ll get ya every time. Just ask Apple. Still, it’s hard to feel bad for the victims of success.
Will Digg out-Facebook Facebook? Will Propeller out-Digg Digg? Stay tuned…
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