Monday, January 16, 2006

The Digg

Digg.com has come up fast. "Overnight" it's become like a Slashdot on sterioids. Much more polished and organized: Digg looks much more viable than content/news granddaddy, Slashdot.
In truth, Digg is like a DOS attack in everything but name and primary intent. Stories are posted by Digg members. When people see them, they rate them. They can either give the story a "Digg" or they can complain about it. A Digg raises the prominence of a story. If a lot of people do it at the same time, the story is destined for the front page where people will really see the story. When this happens, thousands of people will hit a page in a matter of minutes. These visitors have been dubbed the "Digg Army." Think of them more like an invading army of Borg drones. Do I have a problem with Digg? Oh yeah.
The quality of comments is really pathetic. The Internet is the refuge of anti-social tools. But Digg is for the cream of the crop. It's largely populated by angry male techies who voraciously pop in twenty word rants against anything they find. Save the twenty words for your next four dates, guys.
It is irresponsible to develop a tool such as Digg without a caching system for those front page stories. Google has a cache. With about 20 lines of code and some drive space, you could create a cache to store a more local copy of a site. When it hits the front page, Digg can offer users to visit an easy to find cache and lessen the strain on these destinations.
Given the damage that Digg popularity will do, it's a matter of weeks before sites will wise-up and block traffic from Digg.com. When that happens, angry Digg drones will vent their spleen in the comments for not being able to easily get to a site that they would only have savaged in a review.
In the next year, Digg will go down as a brave failure . Before long, the Son of Digg will clean up. It will look at a revolutionary way to weight comments and reviews to weed out the pipsqueaks. It will find a way to make a site popular without delivering punishing sums of traffic to the newly popular. Son of Digg will expand beyond two dozen categories. Son of Digg will give users a way to plunk review sheets on websites so that you can say a site is worthy from that site and not from the Digg environment. Webcrawler came before Google and slipped into the murk. You could buy and sell stuff on Usenet but eBay cleaned up. I saw a Push technology piece in 1996, but it took RSS to make live content updates easy and fun.
Enjoy Digg.com while you can. On the Herzsprung-Russell diagram of website longevity, Digg.com is Sirius.

How to hack DIGG
  • Digg is made to be manipulated by a flash mob. If you were so inclined, you could make Digg do your bidding. Diggs don't get to the front page through their own merit, they get there manipulation. If you've a pathetic loner, you can sit on Digg voraciously pushing select stories to the top. If you come to Digg site thinking a story got to the front page through popular concensus, you're mistaken.
  • Get 10 friends. 20 or 50 friends would work better.
  • Have them all sign up to Digg
  • Pick a target: a nice juicy website that has a Digg-friendly tech bent. If you want to be mean: pick a target on a creaky server. If you want to be mean to Digg: choose something on a server that can take a pounding.
  • Pick a time: Rush hour is business hours on weekdays when all of the geeks are lying to their bosses that this is research and not goofing off. If you digg outside of these peak hours you will get some traction.
  • Use MSN or another IM so that all of your friends can talk to one another. Get a few connected chats going (e.g. 3 chats where 1 person from each chat has two groups up at the same time).
  • One user puts in a story about the target website. This can take a couple of minutes of approval screens.
  • Ready, Set, Go! Everyone in the chat circles Diggs the new story. Have each of them search through Digg for key words from the title of your piece.
  • Then, email people who aren't in on the Digg and tell them about it (linking to the Digg piece so they can digg it). If all of this happens in a minute or two, it will look like what it is: a way to manipulate a system that is all about manipulation.
  • Hope for this thing to get a life of its own. Autobots (people who dig because its there) will digg the story too. Stories with 2000 diggs make it to the front page. I have also seen stories that are posted outside of rush hour make it to the front page.
  • This is all about density of popularity: if 10 people digg something in 10 min. it's more popular than something that 10 people digg in 20 mins; or 20 people digg in 2 hrs. Metaphorically: it's not the cargo beneath the balloon: it's how fast it rises.
For more on turning the sod: Alex Bosworth's piece.
If you want a Digg alternative, there are plenty of options.
When I get around to it, I'll post a piece on how to engineer the Son of Digg, which I am sure a bunch stunned chair moisteners will get all up in arms about.

tags: Digg Slashdot borg DDOS DOS