Digg vs Reddit is an interesting case, where a technically similar idea is implemented in a socially different way.
I'm also a bit sad this article refers to these sites as social bookmarking -- delicious is/was the canonical one of those (where the byproduct of everyone storing their bookmarks online was a glimpse into good content being saved for later). Something like 1/3 of all reddit submissions are self-posts anyway (they don't link anywhere but to a reddit comments page) so the 'social bookmarking' classification is all the more absurd...
Reddit even has a strong female community which is rare for any of these sorts of sites; again that wasn't created by fiat from the company but generated by the users. Reddit just needs to keep the lights on and the leadership and passion of the community will keep it going.
I stopped reading right there.
Hindsight is 20/20 and this kind of talk really trivializes how difficult it is to successfully execute - especially over an evolving landscape of 6 years.
Absolutely, execution is difficult; there a ton of difficult problems to solve on a site like this, e.g.: How can the system allow noobs to participate and advance without incentivizing sock-puppets? Are voting circles good (increasing participation) or bad (decreasing honest assessment/diversity of content)?
No site is going to get it all right, but I think it's both appropriate and useful to periodically assess: what are some of the Digg solutions that didn't turn out to work as well as alternate solutions?
On a few points, the article doesn't persuade me, including the claim that a twitter-like mostly-personalized homepage beats a community-wide homepage: maybe yes, maybe no. But several other strategies adopted by Digg do seem to be problematic over the long-term, and kudos to the author for highlighting a bunch of relevant ones. Bigger kudos to reddit for pretty consistently adopting smart solutions to these same problems.
If I recall correctly, this was one of several features they introduced in late 2010 that caused a mass exodus of users. Suddenly, my front page was mostly empty and unchanging since I had largely ignored Digg's friend system. You could optionally load the "universal front page" but the community seemed to have died overnight -- the top stories went from having 400 comments to 10 comments, most of which were "Where did everybody go?"
Of course this was the whole point of digg in the first place, to "democratize the media" because the media seems to be a bunch of braying donkeys who follow the lead ass wherever he wants to go. So in a sense this story really is saying digg is dead. If you actually read it and feel that's its useful, that is.
To me, the major reason I got annoyed with it was the 'mob'. You had this constant mob of people linking the same 'top 10 things something rather'. It became a sensational headline front-page with no substance and no soul.
Once a new story went out, particularly anything Apple related, all friends of the editor would be IM'ed within minutes to Digg It. Some editors had enormous posses at their disposal that they would leverage "occasionally" to get their story at least in the Hot Story block in the right-hand-column (which was probably the equivalent of being on HN's front page for 30 minutes or so).
You can understand why so many editors grew to hate Digg. It made them feel cheap about their "art", which had really become consumed by all things Apple, Google and Microsoft.
Digg was the drug dealer. That elusive front page was the ultimate high few could ever experience, but everyone kept trying to take a hit.
The founder doesn't have to come back (as Steve Jobs did at Apple); look up what happened with IBM starting in 1993 (when they brought in Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. as the new CEO).
If you title something "Why XXXX Happened," I figure you've got about 3 grafs to get to start your explanation. This article jumps from Arrington to Rose to Twitter without even starting to dig into how such a hot product "failed."
Stop obsessing over celebrity and focus on information and analysis.
What was the harm of leaving it up anyway? (my apologies in advance for not following the changes with Digg)