Digg’s 20 Questions: a Town Hall Recap

written by BlogEx on February 26, 2008 in Social Media with 10 comments

Digg just held it’s first town hall and while there were some ustream issues, especially with the audio, I think there were quite a few interesting nuggets of information disclosed and a few questions conspicuously dodged. I was intending to live blog the event but that ustream didn’t seem to like that idea much. In any case, here’s my down and dirty recap for those of you that don’t want to listen to the entire hour and 15 minute show.

Update: I’ll go ahead and embed the video as well. I included the time tags so you can just scroll directly to the questions if you’d like. Enjoy!

7.5 minutes in and we get our first question. Jay says they absolutely do not have moderators. They have one “site admin” on shift at a time and they just deal with stuff that breaks the terms of service. The “auto-bury” function is simply code targeting spam. I guess the different definitions of spam is where we run into the issue. I’m sorry but I simply don’t accept the claim that sites like Copyblogger, JohnChow, and others are “spam.”

13 minutes – The new buzz word “diverse” makes its first appearance of the night. Kevin and Jay both mention that if you have the same group of users digging your content all the time those diggs don’t count as much and it will take a higher number of diggs for your story to hit the front page. Now correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t the point of a “social” site to connect people? In fact, they encourage us to find other people that often submit stories we like. However, if you make that next logical step of following that person and digging a lot of their stories, well sorry but your vote won’t count as much. More on this later…

17 minutes – Search and dupe detection gets some much deserved attention. They realize there are issues and they are working on fixing it. While that’s great, Digg doesn’t have the best track record on timely releases or fixes. If you get frustrated when people say it’s being looked at or worked on just stop reading now. Trust me, it’s for the better.

19.5 minutes – Super user Mr. Baby Man asks for a Digg forum. They say yes, but you guessed it, they’re working on it. Maybe I’m just cynical but is this beginning to sound like the MLB Congressional hearings for any other baseball fans? Jay goes on to say that there will be different forums for different things such as development, help and trouble shooting, etc.

21 minutes – A question asked by yours truly is tap-toed around. The question was pretty broad ranging but the main point was about the high threshold for stories to hit the front page. Diversity makes another appearance and Jay assures me that it’s not just based on the topics etc. They also point to stories that hit the front page with as few as 40 diggs to show that the new algo doesn’t penalize anyone. I’m beginning to wonder if they have some drinking game with the digg staffers involving the word diversity.

24:50 minutes in – The infamous bury brigade makes its first appearance on the show. The question asks for transparent buries and Jay basically says that while they’re still open to the idea, they aren’t going to do it just yet. In fact, Jay asks for more buries. Kevin says that he didn’t want it to get into a back and forth, tit-for-tat type thing. They ARE going to show the number of thumbs up and thumbs down on comments as a test. To me that’s huge news. I personally would love to see the buries be transparent and that sounds like a reasonable step in that direction.

The recorded version breaks into a second video right at the 27 minute mark.

2:15 in to the second video – New comment system coming in April. Thank GOODNESS! As if that weren’t enough, you’ll be able to delete your old comments! Awesome. This will fix what has been a fairly big annoyance and it’s nice to see it addressed.

5:30 – Is Digg up for sale? No comment. They explain how often they get asked that question but come on guys, if it were that big of a deal, why not just answer it once and be done with it. I think this a lot like pleading the 5th, you only do it if you have something to hide, so my guess is yes, Digg is up for sale.

7 min in – Bugs in profile activity is asked about. Apparently there was a fix pushed out within the past few days, although I hadn’t been encountering the issue so I can’t really speak to this one.

8:50 – A delete all shouts option is requested and once again I couldn’t agree more. Once again, “over time” they consider requests like this. Dear GAWD man how many people have to request this before it’s just done? I’m sorry but if you don’t have the manpower just hire more programmers. Didn’t you guys get millions in funding etc?

10:45 – Spam shouts are brought up and basically Jay and Kevin say that if you’re being spammed with shouts, you should have fewer friends. Gee thanks guys, I wouldn’t want to mistake Digg for a social site. A private messaging system is requested and.. say it with me this time… they’re “working on it.” No wonder they have so few programmers, they work them like slave drivers! ;) In all seriousness, I think a PM system would be much better than the current shouting but also has a huge potential for abuse as well.

13:15 – Super users resubmitting stories is called a “annoying problem” and Jay assures us that technologies are being developed that detect it, and take you to the original story. Kevin explains that they are trying to develop duplicate content detection that happens when you submit the URL rather than relying on the title and description of the story. That would be pretty cool but only if it works better than the current dupe detection system.

16:25 – My second question of the night, although really they already addressed the issue. I asked about moderators and Jay assures us once again that there are no moderators. Kevin then goes into this long diatribe about an example of spam. I’m not sure why but between this show and the drill down episode a couple of weeks back, it seems like Digg thinks we don’t understand that people spam the site.

22 minutes in – Jay looks longingly at Kevin. I realize they are sitting there talking to each other and a camera but I half expected him to profess his undying love of the Rose lol. Seriously though the question asked was about the podcast section and basically they say it will definitely be addressed but by integrating them into the video section.

24:15 – Sorting through your old comments with the context is apparently part of the new comment system. Everything else asked for is already available (and I’m actually quite fond of being able to see how many thumbs up your comments get without having to go to the actual thread).

27 – After a few duplicate questions that had already been addressed, stale front page content is brought up again. Kevin says that the new recommendation engine should help with getting us more stories quicker. Jay explains that as Digg grows they are probably going to move towards more personalized or even localized “front pages.” To be honest, I really hope they don’t go down this route. I think part of the beauty of Digg is that it broadens your horizons and exposes you to so much content you normally wouldn’t have encountered.

28:50 – Random or recommended stories features are suggested. Kevin pretty much already talked about that and stated again that they will be releasing a recommendation engine “very soon” and he even has prototypes. I’ve now lost count of the number of things they are working on and will be released “soon.”

31:30 – Diversity is asked about yet again. The question is understandably danced around but Jay says that it isn’t based on topic, but rather “who.. and sort of where” and then suggests that your “history interacting with the content” might also play into it similar to how Google does things. This could probably be a whole post on it’s own but I’m just going to skip boring you with yet another anti Google rant.

33:45 – Why are legitimate bloggers considered spam? Because some bloggers are spammers. Also, when stories from blogs or sites go popular on a regular basis, they get flagged as spam by users. Jay then makes the outlandish claim that Digg contacts all the sites they ban and that they get MULTIPLE chances. Give me a break guys, you’re telling me that John Chow and Copyblogger et all have all been contacted by you guys and yet still write posts like this one? Please. I’m not one to call someone an out and out liar but I’d say that whether they didn’t understand this question or they just didn’t want to answer it, this answer is BS.

38:20 – Subvert and Profit and buying of diggs is brought up and in a very Google-esque response, they say that they can detect that sort of thing, but no they won’t explain how other than it’s “pretty cool.” I’ve heard about new sites that sell social votes (including diggs) popping up more and more so I’m willing to bet it still works. That might make for an interesting piece of linkbait for anyone that wants to give it a shot.

Ok, hopefully that gives you the basics of what was covered without making you watch the entire 75 minute show. All in all I’d say this was a step in the right direction but there’s still a lot of ground to cover. Digg users, did this address the concerns you might have had? Did any answers stick out as particularly useful or revealing? Chime in using the comment form below!