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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Open Letter to Digg.com - Why Game Your Own Algorithm?

I am not a Digg power user and I have not used Digg continuously. I check out Digg from time-to-time and usually because I get directed there by a 3rd party to read an article. But with the recent changes to the “New” Digg, I actually signed up for an account (Profile: SMBStrategy) and have been gradually adding links to my web sites. I am also working with a client right now to include Digg in their social networking strategy. How I use Digg and will use it with clients is not greatly affected by the recent accusations, but it does make me think about ethics and the Internet and how the culture among Digg users expects openness.

Since I am not a power, I am coming to the game late, but this post by LtGenPanda called “Did Digg Game Its Own System?” is very compelling and the data speaks for itself. If not Digg, Someone is gaming the system. Also, if this was orchestrated by Digg, and I am not saying it was, I am sure there was a good reason. With all the unrest at Digg, there needs to be a shake up. There needs to be a better strategy that includes better revenue streams, but back to ethics and the culture.

The solution is that Digg should be open about the new strategy and don’t hide. Let’s call it what it is – ADVERTISING – and label it as advertising or sponsored listing or featured listing or Digg Digged this Article. At this point we have all been programmed to see advertising on most web sites and certainly on search engines, directories and other aggregators. Twitter has even slid in sponsored recommendations and labeled them as such.

Update: Since I originally wrote this post, Digg has apologized and clarified what that the fake users was just to test their algorithm. I am not going to get into it here, you can read about it at ReadWriteWeb or on the Digg Blog. Despite these moves my message is still the same - open communication and a new business model that includes paid sponsored listings, after all accepting these changes is better than no Digg...

Follow me on Digg: http://digg.com/SMBStrategy

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