The Digg society

Here’s a good exploration of the complementary species that make up the Digg ecosystem [via my son’s dugg links]. It shows how news organizations need to look at themselves — as ecosystems, rather than as manufactured products.

There are five groups of people who make what it is.

There are the readers: an educated guess would be that probably ten to twenty percent of those ever click ‘digg’, they are mostly just there for the end product of the digg machine: an array of interesting news and links often presented before the other news sources.

There are the diggers: some percentage of the readers, probably ten to twenty percent. They bother to vote for the stories on, which changes the numbers next to the stories and enables stories to get to another queue – the diggnation podcast.

Then there are the hardcore diggers – people who sit in the queue of submitted stories and watch for breaking news that should make its way up to the front page, or report stories as being spam or irrelevant.

An even smaller subset of users are the submitters: people who post fresh stories. It’s difficult to post a fresh story to digg at this point, it’s a competition for who can submit it first.

Finally there are the news publishers themselves, often bloggers who want to get readership for their content.

What’s really interesting about these groups is that each of them is required for the system to function, they all came together relatively quickly, and each of them have different and complementary rewards for what they do.

If a newspaper truly handed control of itself over to its community — Digg-like or Craig-like — then a similar society could emerge: reporters, on staff and off; contributors; creators; alerters; readers-now-kn0wn-as-editors…..

  • Marina Architect

    Digg is picking up momentum. I would say look at Wink (http:/ for aggregation is vital. It is really the ultimate next itertion of search. As always, it has that why didn’t this happen earlier. Can Wink be applied to Memeorandum or vice versa and then served up like a search engine for world news? 2006 is going to be exciting. I predict Wink is going to be huge as long as it doesn’t get cut off from the API’s it uses.

  • Whilst I like Digg a whole lot, I’m becoming very jaded as to its relevance as a news feed for good content. I know its a signal/noise thing, but digg is supposed to FIX that, not cause more. Case in point: most digg stories fall into the following categories..

    1) Digg is cool
    2) Kevin Rose is cool
    3) Here is a nice article on how to do something you should already know how to do
    3) Here is a list of software you should have
    4) The latest useless mashup
    5) Videogames
    6) Something funny I found

    This is just from looking at the past two days, but it holds true a lot. I think I missed the age group for digg about three years and a marriage ago.

  • There’s one problem with the “newspapers should” theory vis a vis Digg: Most newspapers are local. And I think there’s a question as to whether you can get all five groups clicking when you’ve got a smaller, non-global, population to deal with.

    What would Digg be like if it was populated only by people from Boise?

  • Ethan: I think it’s a quite legitimate question to ask whether Digg itself would work on a news or local news model. But I’m making the more general point that newspapers would be wise to see their readers and former readers as potential contributors, editors, and so on.
    Mike: Yes, general news is a question. But as for local: The local sites I worked on had huge audience. And as for the ability of a local public to congregate meaningfully, I have a one-word reply: Craig.

  • Jeff: agreed, and you already blogged my views on that :) I love the contributor/reader model, but as of yet I don’t think Digg exemplifies a model that works. I don’t think it scales basically, and is too dependent on self-serving and mirroring audience desires to too great of an extent.

    What happens in that situation is that the newspaper/newssite becomes a year book rather than a source of information. I think Digg is dangerously close to that.

    What I would love is a model of reader-as-contributor news, and self editing that less serving explicit desire, and more anticillary/implicit desire.

  • Craig is a great answer for classified. Don’t see that model working for news.

    It’s not a question of a community congealing– you’re talking about five communities congealing.

    And once you get outside SF, NY, LA, DC, Craigslist really hasn’t taken cities by storm. I used to believe otherwise, but we track them in Dallas and the growth has been slow. Beyond that, I’ve dropped any discussion of Craigslist out of business meetings in the Central Time Zone. I’m tired of explaining to people what it is.

    Local communities can/will/do/congregate. I was speaking to your suggestion that a newspaper could operate that way. Perhaps it could in NY. But in middle America, I’d argue for a middle ground.

  • Mike: I meant Craig only as an example of critical mass of local community.
    And I have to say that we had huge communities in Cleveland, Michigan, Alabama, and other nonNewYork places at Advance.

  • Hello world