First thing first is rescue the culture. Digg engineering already fled, the peanut gallery in the valley keeps squawking with delight about your failure, and all you have left is some nicely designed pages showing double digit gains on stale links that's a shade away from being as if they were spun up by a Russian spam squad. Save yourself, redo the logo, redo the color scheme, don't let legacy drag you down.
Second thing is do some soul searching, figuring out what layer Digg wants to play in. Links aggregation? Community building and content creation? Traffic? Attention? Engagement? That elusive ad sharing model for content creators?
After that figure out for who. Reddit's core is dying, and eventually it'll be fully crowded out by the mainstreaming of rage comics, aww pics, and counter-Tumblr-pseudo-nerdy programming. Do you target those people, the walking wounded much like Slashdot?
Or do you go after the youths, the ones addicted to Instagrams, 9gag, imgur, but bored of their Facebook feeds? Then play the waiting game. New is everything old, after all.
The game's so different now from 2005. All the majors have feeds now. All the majors have figured out sharing, commenting, and extracting action on a story item. On top of that you're competing against mobile guys like Flipboard.
This is one of those situations where execution is easier than creating an idea. What is Digg's $1MM idea? Good luck with that because Digg needs to be futuristic but also really lucky twice being at the right place, the right time, with the right idea. Once you're lucky, twice you're good, right?
I bet this kind of flame out, this one thing keeps Mark Zuckerberg from sleeping.
Go to the front page of reddit right now and try to find me a piece of news.
I see 2 items out of 25 links.
One of them is a [linkbait title] story about wikileaks winning a case against VISA (in iceland).
The other is about a Canadian supreme court ruling.
Unfortunately, Reddit's admins chose to take a hands-off approach to policing bad behavior in the community. As a result, Reddit regulars have to guard themselves against providing enough information in their comments to attract the attention of a diligent troll.
I had a 5-year-old account on Reddit, and had been active on there from just about the beginning. I had hand-picked subreddits and the like. But, ultimately, it was better just to delete my account entirely and become a casual reader.
Now Reddit is basically the daily equivalent of reading the comics section in the newspaper.
I think Digg has a huge opportunity here. I doubt that they will take advantage of it though.
Wow, could you fill us in on exactly what happened?
That's precisely why it is the source of stories: there is a myriad of communities with the wildest varying interests, and that's where things grow before going mainstream.
That said, it's the default front page that provides new users with their first Reddit experience, and sets the tone for their overall impression of the site, and when they've got r/pics, r/WTF, r/politics, and r/atheism on the default frontpage, I don't really understand what kind of userbase they're trying to build; everything on the default frontpage is either vapid image-memes or vitriolic flamewars.
Nudging the participants in some of the big communities into better commenting behaviour seems achievable (less users go vote in comment threads, most communities manage being self-policing), but driving out the meme generators isn't achievable from votes only. They are what the lowest-common denominator of the user base wants to see, and what they upvote.
On the other hand some of the smaller communities would benefit from more recruitment, particularly of dedicated users, but that doesn't have to come from the frontpage. Tapping into other social networks, via things like twitter sharing and per-subreddit twitter accounts (like StackExchange does), would be a good avenue for that.
There are still good submissions in very small and highly technical subreddits, but those get very few posts.
I visit reddit because I'm honest-to-god addicted, but at some point my self respect is going to win out.
If no one liked reddit, no one would be there. The majority of current users came from digg. You can watch the decline in content and maturity since then (and before then as digg was shedding users before they flipped the switch on diggv4). The content APPEALS to them which is why reddit keeps gaining users.
The "real" or "hardcore" users, aka the ones that have been there since when the content was good and relevant, are smart enough to find subreddits that appeal to them because they like the style and functionality of reddit.
I will agree that digg could go back to its tech roots and gain back some of that crowd. I myself have found tech related news on digg that was not posted to reddit, at all.
> The "real" or "hardcore" users, aka the ones that have been there since when the content was good and relevant, are smart enough to find subreddits that appeal to them because they like the style and functionality of reddit.
That's a god awful assumption to make.
1) As it currently is dominated by memes and linkbait articles
2) Links to actual news and good content
3) A combination of 1 and 2
Out of the 3, my guess is #1 drives the most traffic. If you're goal is to get the most traffic, then almost by definition you're trying to get popular content as the default state.
Maybe it's a bad assumption, but I guess I don't give a shit. This whole "we have to cater to the lowest denominator is the whole thing we're trying to avoid, is it not? Digg was fine when they went after geeks. As they tried to make it social and opened it for massive appeal it went down the shitter. I have no problem with the more refined subreddits staying hidden. If people can't manage to find their way there, they probably shouldn't be there.
You'll see something get a few hundred comments on Reddit, often in one of the non-default subreddits, then the next day there's an article on an Atlantic or NYTimes or HuffPo blog about it. It'd be interesting to trace who influenced whom, since I don't have hard numbers, and am not 100% sure where Reddit fits into the food chain. I'm certain there's some food chain though, because some of it is very unlikely to be coincidence; e.g. I'll read some interesting "weird historical episode" tidbit someone pulled out of Google Books one day, then a day later a mainstream news organization is blogging about this very same weird-news tidbit from 1913, which they clearly borrowed from somewhere (whether Reddit, Twitter, some kind of analytics data, etc., I'm not sure).
Then there was the girls graduation present where her dad got all her teachers from kindergarden to graduation to give her encouraging words. This hit my local newspaper about 5 days after I saw it on Reddit.
Soft news has basically turned into trawling reddit and twitter for popular things.
Just like Hacker News is/was to TechCrunch, Reddit generates a news cycle, as in right now across the world there are cadres of journalists and bloggers using Reddit to source and/or get ideas on what to write and feed into the long tail.
To a segment of people, http://www.big-boards.com/, it is their life.
I know of somebody that's deeply engrossed with Skyscraper City even though she isn't an architect, just because it has an encouraging community and she has a 4 hour commute and works in multiple cities (which makes it very hard to get into an offline community)
I browse /r/all all the time with this filter on and get good content. Reddit is hell without it. I wish though that I could ban rage comics all together.
Another thing that would make reddit better would be to allow karma growth on self posts. If you id, there would be less imagifying of text for posting to IMGUR so the karma counts.
Some times though, it helps to filter out imgur.com completely and you get a nice view...
I don't think he's saying Zuckerberg is worried about reddit, he's saying Zuckerberg is worried about being a fad or a blip. And he should be. More than one metric is indicating that Facebook usage per-user is diminishing, or at least peaking.
What core? /r/reddit died a long time ago; not 'died' as in "Nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded" but died as in no longer exists.
It's all subreddits now. You can have your own list of subreddits, none of them 'dying' or 'uncool', all of them interesting to you.
Reddit now literally powers the generation of news cycles across the blogerverse.
Moreover, the truly literal definition of the word is from the Latin for "letter" and means something like "letter-for-letter truth." So using this word to describe anything other than a written document is "wrong" on some level. But language doesn't really work that way.
"Used to acknowledge that something is not literally true but is used for emphasis or to express strong feeling."
With my cynicism hat on nice and tight, it seems a bit late for that. Digg WAS, in its heyday, the best place to find and share online content. But as the management undertook on iffy decision after another, and as imitators sprung up left right and centre, it lost its place in the online world. Sad.
We have plenty of content aggregators now. The kind of people Digg 5.0 (?!) will target are probably more than happy finding their entertainment through Twitter, Facebook, and dare I say it, Reddit.
Having said that, I for one wish the new team all the luck in the world in trying to get the site back to its former glory, and I look forward to trying it out.
If we assume that instead of the thought process being "We can have Digg for $500k... should we do it?" the thought process was actually: "We have this brilliant idea for content aggregation, how can we most effectively implement and market this?" then it sounds like a much safer and sensible thing to do.
P.S. for the redditors: I have nothing against reddit, it's just that I'm already drowning in information and never found the time to get in to it.
Reddit is what you make it. Nothing more, nothing less.
You could also check out Hubski. It's a much smaller new community with completely different social feed mechanisms. I like it quite a bit, though the volume of users is small (but growing). The owner coded it from the open source HN code. There have always been differences in the features and mechanics, but mk just completed a redesign that completely removed even stylistic similarities.
Time to hit 'reply' and see how badly I mangled this post typing on my phone...
and if you unsubscribe from pics, funny, adviceanimals, aww, and atheism (regardless of whether you are or not, it's just not high quality content), you'll find that things suddenly get a whoooole lot better
I come to HN for a bit more focused conversation on industry related stuff
I don't think Digg really has a place anywhere between those two
Not all companies are going to change the world, nor should they. I see Facebook and Twitter making the same mistakes. Perhaps Facebook is a great place to keep in touch with friends but nothing more. Perhaps Twitter is simply a great replacement for blogging, nothing more. Instead of filling their niches and quietly making a small number of employees very wealthy, they try to become these massive institutions that are reliant on very fickle user bases. It's a house of cards.
The 1st mistake that Digg made was the introduction of power users. As a power user your stories were artificially boosted to the front page. After this happened, I noticed a huge decline in quality where the front page became mostly populated by articles from cracked and huffingtonpost. This quote from another user summed up the situation.
In version 3 around 100 diggers ran 80% of the front page – to get on the front page you had to cover Kevin getting a blow job from Stallman, or get a power user to submit your story. At that point Digg was not a democracy at all, but a curated list by paid Digg pros who shilled for hire. If you were a nice guy, or a tech publisher, you had power digger friends who would submit your stuff for you for free.
Then there is the 2nd mistake that everyone knows about. Digg 4.0, the last mistake that finally made Reddit bigger than Digg. Large domains Engadget and Mashable flooded the front page with their auto-submitted stories. It was then that Kevin Rose betrayed the power users for large publishers, just as he had betrayed the regular users for power users many years ago.
If Digg had not done any of this, there would have been a very good chance that they would still have been the largest aggregator today.
I remember when power users came out far before v3. That was when I started browsing Reddit more often.
With that feeling in mind, the fact that the acquisition was for $500k and not $1MM or $10MM or $40MM is irrelevant: any number falling outside bucket (a) is a loss. And you don't get into venture capital without being able to metabolize a loss.
The people that plowed money into Digg had a charter to put ~$45MM at risk. That was their job: find a place for $45MM to live and, probably, die. One major investment in 10 generates a win that pays for the other 9. So: fuck it, right?
EDIT: The story has been updated with a new paragraph, "A series of redesigns..."
what did they acually buy? The know how? The technology? None of that is revolutionary today. And there is no community on digg right now whatsoever (unlike /. which still lives its own life).
Maybe the name is worth something, but I don't really think that it matters that much.
My guess is that you'll find similar people on Digg's and News.me boards. And this was just a way to a) write off Digg as a permanent loss off the books and b) transfer those assets cheaply to the other company, which might boost them from being a loser to being a winner
Noone sells Digg for $500K...not unless they are millions and millions in debt
That is nothing! I am installing cisco switch gear as we speak that s worth more than that!
I can't think of any service that could be built out that will benefit from that domain name though, s even for a four letter domain - I think they threw $500K down the tubes.
So either they spent 45m in past 4 years,
or they did not draw down all of it
or someone paid 1/2m for 10m in the bank?
Or am I fundamentally missing something obvious
But keep in mind that $45 million wasn't raised in the past four years.
On 9/08 they raised $28.7 million, and then another $5 million on 7/11. So they've raised $33.7m over the last four years.
Also, is this an example that illustrates why craigslist refuses to redesign their site? A redesign really could spell the end of craiglist like digg.
IMO, the larger problem was one of philosophy. Was the site primarily designed for people generating the traffic or those receiving it? How do you deal with people gaming the system? Digg chose to side with the people gaming the system, presumably because it was a more obvious path to profitability. (Digg had a large staff and ridiculously high burn rate) Prior to the v4 redesign, however, there was at least the illusion that regular users' submissions and voting mattered. Digg v4 simply eliminated the roundabout of gaming the system by making votes almost irrelevant; publishers and marketeers could simply pipe all of their content directly to the top of the frontpage by gathering a sufficiently large number of followers. It made the site little more than a pseudo-RSS frontend for content farms.
Reddit has been successful by fighting a vigorous, if behind-the-scenes, war against spamming and gaming. It may be regressing toward the mean, but at least it's a mean defined by the users rather than a spammer.
Digg was ailing before that (as I recall, the Digg Patriots and the clique dynamics were a factor), but traffic took an abrupt dive at that point.
Artistic rendering of the debacle:
I believe there were "sponsored" posts as well.
FWIW, Pligg (the digg clone CMS) looks like it's getting a twitter bootstrap upgrade. I've been wanting to roll my own "digg/reddit/HN" for ages. Maybe now's the time.
for me the problem with digg started when they took down th leader board. It was what a few months later that "gamification" was the buzz word. Digg just effed that one up.
Fingers crossed, but betaworks seems to want to take Digg in the direction it should have gone during the v2->v3 upgrade.
And the fact that they are going to fold it into news.me to send links of articles that others are reading sounds retarded.
At this point Reddit can probably not be killed. The only hope that betaworks could have at success is a vanilla relaunch of Digg, minus the gaming problems and "advertising for hire" functionality. Remember Digg when Dragon Age: Origins came out?
I hope BusinessWeek does a piece on this.
In general this means the steaming wreck of a company will be left behind, asset stripped. In other words, if Digg owes you money, you're not going to be able to ask the new owners for it.
It also means it's up to them which employees (if any) they take on.
This is a sale of brand name, domain name, IP and probably very little else.
It'll still cost more than $500k to transition the service to whatever it is they have in mind. It'll probably cost more than $500k just to trim Digg down to size.
1. I don't think that people, working all hours, are actually significantly more productive than those working regular hours. In fact, in knowledge work, there's good evidence that you only get two or three hours of real productivity per day, no matter how long you keep banging your head on the keyboard.
2. Even if reddit developers and staff were twice as productive as Digg folks, that only indicates that Digg had five times too many people (instead of ten times too many).
It's probably a brand they're slapping onto something they already have in the works. How is it going to cost them a lot more to take it over?
Legal costs. Infrastructure costs. Clearing out employees and transitioning with new employees to take over and operate it. New product development to change the product into whatever they have in mind.
It's ridiculously easy to blow $500k doing nothing in tech when salaries run $100k with total compensation. And that's just the employee costs.
It'll cost Betaworks several million dollars to get Digg the way they want it, all in, including the purchase price.
If digg's fall has taught us anything, it's that heavily community-driven sites are owned by the community. Try to make any major/unpopular changes in direction or business, and the entire site may come crumbling down.