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Okay this is little off topic for my blog, but…

One reason I write is to provoke thought and emotion in readers that may compel them to action. I can’t imagine writing any other way.

A lot of great content is provocative.

That is why Reddit is better than Digg.

Digg is in danger of creating an environment that stifles provocative and compelling content. IMHO – It’s already happening. To avoid getting buried on Digg you need to write in a way that doesn’t anger even a small minority of passionate users. This isn’t the case with Reddit and I’ll explain why.

A Digg user (zaibatsu), who I do not know, submitted 10 Things I Learned from My 4-Year-Old to Digg late Friday night. I noticed a trickle of Digg traffic in my logs on Saturday morning so I monitored the link on Digg to see how many Diggs it was getting. I saw that it was getting about 10-20 per hour so I figured it would be promoted to the front page sometime Saturday. At about 11:00 AM Saturday it made the front page of Digg and the traffic started to flow. The post received about 2,000 visitors from Digg in the first hour. After about sixty minutes, it disappeared so I investigated. A group of users buried it – for an unknown reason – I can only guess why. Maybe it was the thing about the cat going to heaven, maybe they don’t like bloggers, maybe they don’t like posts about kids – who knows.

But one thing I do know – many Digg users loved the post. It received over 200 diggs in the first hour and it is still being Dugg from the buried posts.

Judging the comments, I am also sure many Digg users didn’t like the post, for a variety of reasons.

This exchange in the comments is a good example:

This Article was lame and trite… I can’t believe it made it this high on digg. It seems like something that would be in the living section of the newspaper or something.

Followed by this reply:

It made it on Digg this high because people dugg it. You digg something if you enjoyed it, or if it’s important to you. By the power of logic, I’m going to deduce, then, that there were enough people that enjoyed this article for it to get to the front page.

If you don’t like a story, don’t read it. Or, if you read it and didn’t like it, let’s try accepting that maybe not everyone shares your opinion.

Now I understand that some people hate the stuff I write, and that’s cool. But some people love what I write too. And I think it’s a great place to be. I’d rather have a bunch of people hate my stuff and bunch of people love my stuff than try to make everyone happy. This post from Kathy Sierra illustrates the danger of trying to please everyone.

Don’t you think that’s the way it should be? If we all liked the same stuff, wouldn’t life be boring and bland? I love diversity in everything, especially opinion.

So then, I remembered that 10 Things I Learned from My 4-Year-Old was the first post I wrote that made it to the front page of Reddit back in October of 2006. And it generated hundreds of negative comments and an inbox full of hate mail.

And then I thought…

How did it do so well on Reddit and get buried so quickly on Digg? And then I recalled monitoring the post on Reddit back in October. I watched it climb the rankings very slowly over several hours. And I recalled that it would usually go up 2 points and then go down one point and then go up two points and down one again. It ascended the rankings at Reddit with two steps forward and one step back!

So based on this observation, I think it is safe to assume that more people on Reddit liked the post than hated it. And that works on Reddit, but doesn’t on Digg. Because on Digg a small cabal of fanatics can submarine anything. On Digg, negativity trumps everything. So if you are a content creator and want to do well on Digg, you had better walk on eggshells.

So many of you are probably thinking, yeah – so what – we already knew that.

I abhor censorship in all its forms, and all I can say is…

Just wait until these guys figure this out.

About a year ago, I loved Digg. But today it is becoming increasingly sanitized. As certain groups become more and more organized, Digg could become a site where nothing controversial ever makes the front page. The Liberals cancel the Conservatives, the Conservatives cancel the Liberals, the atheists cancel the religious, the religious cancel the atheists, and the only content that makes the home page is content everyone likes or content that doesn’t provoke emotion in anyone.

That will never happen on Reddit, because a minority opinion cannot suppress the majority of users. Minority dissent will only minimize how far the post can climb the ladder.

I understand that Digg has the bury feature in place to combat spam. They need a way to get crap content off the front page quickly. I hate spam too, but if this bury feature is required to keep spam out of Digg than why isn’t Reddit plagued with spam?

Unless Digg changes, Reddit will have better content in the long run. It’s already happening.

At first, I considered self-censoring these thoughts, so not to anger Digg and get my URL banned. But that’s not what this blog is about. If this blog requires Digg to make it then I might as well quit today and quit wasting your time.

But I’m not going to quit, because this blog is for my readers, not Digg.

Any system that accepts no criticism of itself is dangerous.

I’ve sensed an growing backlash against the heavy handedness of this cabal of Digg censors.

I’ll leave you with a few links to others that have written on the subject.

The Downfall of Digg is Forthcoming and Here is Why
Paul Graham on Digg Reddit
Digg a New Platform for Discrimination
The Downfall of Digg
Spotting Disturbing Digg Trends – Time to Move On
The Hypocrisy of Digg and Spam
Digg Scares Me