One Huge Reason Reddit is Better than Digg

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

44 thoughts on “One Huge Reason Reddit is Better than Digg”

  1. “That will never happen on Reddit, because a minority opinion cannot suppress the majority of users.”

    It can happen if each minority opinion has several Reddit accounts.

  2. How pretentious to think your article (which I didn’t read) wasn’t worthy of being buried.

    You’re quick to quote comments supporting Digg’s democracy but when you’re the one being punished, it sucks?

  3. Please don’t take me as a digg zealot, but I think you aren’t being completely neutral here. I agree, over the years the majority of digg users have become from mature to 10 yr olds at times, but still digg does trigger live/provocative/constructive discussions that are actually “meaningful” to the naked eye. Not everyone is a guru on RoR (for example, myself), so whenever I want to know something about ruby/rails, I’d look out for the simplest way to get it out. Reddit harbours a gang of users who don’t want to or like to talk in the normal tone, as for digg..its users are at least more human than the others. I mean, when comparing the two creeds, I’d say I feel more comfortable with the digg army .

    No, harm meant to reddit…reddit is awesome too, especially since it runs on python 😀

  4. I personally find Netscape to be the best.

    True it is smaller than Reddit and Digg but the UI and the email notification of who dugg your stories is great.

  5. Wendy, but I don’t have to read the article, that’s part of the point 🙂

    The Digg community thought it was better to bury it. Suppose I do read it and think it’s wonderful, what does this changes? The core problem remains unresolved. The Digg community thought it deserved to be buried. Probably if I had “digged” the article I could have delayed the bury, or even prevented it from reaching the treshold to disappear from the front-page. But I didn’t, because well, I am just reading about it now…

    This whole discussion leads to nowhere since we don’t know all the factors involved in promoting an article to Digg’s frontpage, neither what causes it bury, but anyway applying its supposely strenghts (the democracy) to justify the diggs but not the buries when it serves you better, is wrong.

  6. Posts make Reddit’s front page not based on vote totals, but on how “hot” they are. There is some algorithm that decides that, apparently based on how many ups a post receives in some time frame. I don’t know what the algorithm is, but it’s not carved in stone. The point is, there’s probably nothing fundamental about the design of Reddit that prevents the same thing (stories getting buried by a small number of malcontents) from happening there.

    I think the behavior of communities like these depends very much on the quality of the user base. And for reasons I don’t pretend to understand, the quality of the user base often has something to do with the size of the user base. Digg was, IMHO, a great place to spend time when it was new and small. It has since jumped the shark and I generally don’t go there at all any more. This is a problem that one can observe in the growth of many online communities. I think the same thing will happen to Reddit; the first signs began a month or two ago. There’s less and less real discussion and more and more snarking and wisecracking at Reddit.

  7. Julio,
    I don’t really care what happened to my post on Digg. It’s just that the post gave me the opportunity to observe the behavior of both sites.

    On Reddit a link floats up and down a scale based on user preference. On Digg it appears that a minority can bury it – which removes it from the site. These are very different behaviors.

    For example if 50 users come along and down mod something on Reddit, it just goes farther down the list. If 50 users bury a story on Digg it disappears. That kind of power is easier to abuse.

  8. Who cares if it’s buried? It gets on the front page and it gets in the RSS feeds. Digg is probably quantity over quality, but I find reddit’s system of links going up and down a pain in the ass to keep track of on spurious visits.

  9. Well, you’ve certainly done something here that could rise to the top at both sites. I don’t whether to be miffed at you or congratulate you.

  10. I don’t know Ruby on Rails from Python, but I know what I like. I deleted the digg icon a couple of weeks ago.

  11. I don’t use digg anymore. I don’t like the articles that make the front page, likely for reasons you describe.

    I believe part of the answer is self-organizing groups. Previously, a certain strata of people used Digg, thus what you liked was on the front page. Slashdot has avoided this by using tight editorial standards, not user-generated ranking – and has kept small.

    As a social voting site becomes popular, it homogenizes. The only answer is to ‘calve’ off user groups into self-organizing bits, in order to avoid tyranny of the majority.

    The exact thing happens in retail fashion – great article in the WSJ today about Gap’s trouble. I’d post a link but WSJ is pay-only. But think about it – in order to have “growth” you need to homogenize. The only way out is multiple brands, when then means you don’t get economy of scale, and newcomers are on equal footing.

  12. For the record, I like Reddit better than Digg, too. But I think you’re reading too much into the data. My site has been on the front page of Digg a few times, while many other times it only made it to the fifth page or so. All my hard-hitting stuff plays out after a few dozen hits. But let me get lazy and toss off a silly top-10 list that it took me all of one minute to think of, and the wave of incoming Diggers is like a tsunami. Conclusion: Diggers don’t want a four-course meal, they want candy. If it can’t be OMG!!!’ed in a single AOL-chat-window-width line to your buddies, they’re not interested.

    But beyond that, Digg is the fourth most-visited site on the ‘net lately (I forget where I heard that), and like all large systems it exhibits weather-like chaos patterns that are impossible to predict with micrometer accuracy. In the space of four hours, I once posted, the post got dugg, the traffic pegged my server’s CPU at +50% and the site went down, it came back up an hour later, and in the next hour the post dropped to the second page and into oblivion. I don’t think anybody even actually got a chance to read it, which doesn’t matter, because it was a candy post.

    My advice would be… don’t try to time the volcano.

  13. A lot of folks (including the author) seem to be missing the fundmental point so I’m going to quietly rant about it: Visit the site you like, read the stories you like. I’ve been on (Slashdot) /. since before Digg or Reddit ever existed and the same (de)evolution occurred. Interestingly enough though, these sites go through a metamorphsis over time, and inevitably, the users dedicated users determine what succeeds.

    At the risk of sounding like a troll, what *I’M* getting sick of are all the various sects aligning themselves with baseless and useless judgements: “Digg is better” “No, Reddit’s better!” Who cares? They are both what they are, if you don’t like it, leave, if you like it, stay. Arguing about the methodologies of why someone’s post may be interesting to you or not is as silly as trying to explain to someone what a “good” article is.

    ‘Relevent to you’ is not the same as good. ‘Interesting to you’ is not the same as good. ‘Good’ is a totally subjective term, and if the general early morning populous of Digg doesn’t like an article but the late-night posters did, maybe you should post your articles somewhere else, where perhaps your target audience lurks? And believe it or not, I’m getting sick of Digg as well, the articles are not relevent to me – not as much as they used to be anyway – but this does not mean they aren’t “good” or that there is a flaw with one site’s methodologies vs. anothers’. It just means you’re unhappy with it… Almost as unhappy as the 10-year old who flagged your “bad” article…

    There is no conspiracy of 10-year olds out there, in an anarchical army that flags down articles that you think are good. And if there are, hey, let em have their crusty tired site… I did.

    I have to agree with one poster above, that ergonomically, the constant “shifting” of what’s on Reddit is annoying, more annoying than anything I’ve seen on Digg, but the counter is that for me, the content on Reddit is generally more intriguing to me to read.

    I propose the following challenge to the moderators of these boards that is so simple it’s stupid no one has done this yet: Make the boards sortable with different criteria… No one can bury your article if it’s topical and accurate, and then if I know I want to search for x topic, there’s your article. But if you’re complaining about posting ubiquitous topics and hoping for viral marketing, go take a page from last year’s marketing handbook of the Fortune 500 because they have paid lurkers out there following the company agenda to the letter… THAT’S your army, believe it.

    It’s a well-known fact that the PS3 has been buried by paid XBox360 marketers – who don’t work for Microsoft directly but are granted “incentives” (like free consoles – a buddy has one) in exchange for regular down-Diggs of any positive PS3-related posts. And it works both ways, Sony has their “boyz” out there as well. Yes, Nintendo does too, let’s not start an inadvertent flame war about who’s playing nice, etc…

    But I digress… My primary point is, stop ranting (yes, I know I exemplify the perfect hypocrisy right now) and do something different. If you’re a programmer, start a better site, if you’re not, start visiting and supporting sites that support the kind of content you like to read, and stop filling it up with tales of woe about how this site or that site is conspiratorial in nature, or how its algorithms work in such and such a way in a horrible plot to keep all relevent news as far away from your grasp as humanly possible…

    Articles like this do nothing more than bury other articles, and hey, I want my “good” news… 😉

  14. I like reddit better than digg because reddit’s RSS feeds link straight to the content rather than the inbetween comment page…

    When looking at reddit and digg side by side on netvibes in the morning, deciding which to peruse first… it will be reddit, and then digg if i’ve got time, because I don’t have to click twice.

  15. I never surf Digg directly — I use — so I avoid most of the skirmishing and bickering and pettysh!t that makes digg so tedious. It reminds me of ridiculous teenage towel slapping.

    I just want to see rising links, not some arbitrary judgment. Digg ratings are becoming irrelevant.

  16. I’ve generally found the comments/discussion at Reddit to be more thoughtful and nuanced than at Digg.

  17. Great article. I’ve used Digg for a while, nearly a year now, and I must say it is becoming (or has been) rather boring. I prefer Slashdot or Reddit, but Digg can still be good when no assholes constantly patrol it.

  18. does no one use merged articles from digg, reddit and (dupes eliminated). still interesting, to me, after all these years, direct links, intra-site links and open-in-new-window option.

  19. Reddit still has the fault that a slight majority can bury a story a large minority finds interesting.

  20. I sort of agree, but it still takes quite a bit of people for a story to be buried. My biggest complaint about Digg at the moment is that it has gotten so massive I can no longer check all of the stories, or even a fraction of them.

  21. This is not a problem at all. Web 2.0 does not incorporate tags at a preference level, nor does it clump users into types. There is just one standard of “interestingness”. Consequently, you have to choose HOW you want to appeal to the standard, and then you do so. Digg does it differently from reddit. I happen to find this article trite and yawn-inspiring.

    In three years, this won’t be an issue.

  22. Pingback:
  23. Aaron, there IS a point to blog posts such as this… or wait, I suppose all the people who read it must not have wanted to. This article obviously had an impact on a good number of people for it to get any attention whatsoever… and it obviously had an impact on you or you wouldn’t have been so behooved to serenade us with your maniacally long comment. Personally, I’m upping it on Reddit.

    Let’s get to the point people, this, like anything else, is CONTENT, and that is all Digg/Reddit//. were made for, a clever distribution of content.

    P.S. Nice… you spend a paragraph defining good as subjective and then end by saying this article isn’t good… sans irony!

  24. I’ve heard people refer to reddit as “digg for grownups.” If you compare the quality of discussion in a reddit thread versus a digg thread, that statement totally rings true.

  25. I think one thing with Digg is that many Diggers, for whatever reason, seem almost offended if a blog link is posted. I don’t really understand this, but I’m basing this idea on comments I saw when I read a thread of comments about a particular blog post by someone else that made it to the front page. A lot of the comments in that instance were very disparaging just because the source was a weblog.

    And reddit is better about this sort of thing, but Digg isn’t the only place I’ve seen such snark if a blog is the source material at the other end of the link. I don’t mind if someone Diggs a blog entry of mine, but I don’t put myself out there to be Dugg, either — no buttons saying “Digg this,” that sort of thing. In fact, both YouTube and Digg in particular seem to attract some of the nastiest commenters I’ve seen just about anywhere on the Web.

    Maybe I’ve been online too long, as I note all this, and still, I’m pretty accustomed to it. People are mean, and the Web permits them to give that free reign in ways that aren’t available otherwise, in polite society.

  26. hello.. been looking all over.
    can someone tell me under what name do reddit stocks trade under?
    or has google bought it over?
    help appreciated.

  27. I think as each social network matures, it begins to get too big for its own good. Reddit is still small enough that interesting blog entries or obscure information can still make the front page. For Digg, most of the stuff on the frontpage is fairly mainstream (albeit you see it on Digg faster than almost anywhere else).

  28. 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.

    Good observation, but from certain point of view, this can be regarded as an advantage over reddit. In reddit, certain “schools of thought” won, so you will not find any opposing views on frontpage – like, for example, articles supporting religion, creationism, etc.

  29. I read your list way back it was on Dig or Reddit. I liked it but that’s beside the point I guess. I kind of agree regarding Digg. Content seems to be secondary, who Diggs it is more important. Plus, there seem to be many people working together who are not focused on content at all.


  30. To Danny:

    Ah, I see you at least noted the irony… 😉 My long rant was simply to get my own gripe across: that 1000 people griping about the difference between two socially driven message boards is almost as effective as 1000 people griping about ANYTHING but providing no positive solution. I didn’t mean to imply that the article was “bad” or “had no point” as you insinuated. I was merely hoping more people would read between the lines, use their collective brain power and CREATE something better. My lone hope is that of the 34 responses on here, one of these people (besides me) is working on a BETTER SITE instead of stumbling around on blogs, thinking up all the things that are “wrong” with the very sites they are reading…

    But I’m cynical and callous and also believe that there’s a point at which a citizen needs to stop whining about the politics of their country and leave – ESPECIALLY when they are not politically active and are doing nothing to change but bitching and moaning about it and their myopic situation in their own minute and self-centered world.

    At the risk of horrifying anyone else with another umm… “maniacally long comment” (yeesh, that’s a little judgemental and harsh don’t you think? I didn’t realize we had to keep it down to Haiku length or risk criticism…) let me set an example by stating here that these are the last words I will personally say on the topic – not just here, but on any board – and I encourage others to shut their proverbial pie-holes and DO something. If you aren’t a programmer, go meet one and collaborate, go to a computer users group, contact the message board owners, *DO* something. Besides bitching… It clogs the tubes on the internet after all… (and please for the love of god, recognize the sarcasm here and don’t tell me the internet isn’t really made up of tubes…) 😉

    Meanwhile, I’ll continue working on a better socially driven message board that I’m sure will be full of haters who post articles complaining about how it doesn’t fit their agenda.


  31. Aaron,
    Good point. Complaining without a solution is worthless.

    So I’ll offer a solution.

    No need to re-invent Digg. It’s already there. Just make burying an article much harder. Make it so it needs more buries than Diggs to be buried. And give us a list of people that buried it and make them say why they buried it. Get rid of the anonymous hate. If you think something sucks, at least sign your name to it.

    There is a solution.

    Take it or leave it, but I think it would make Digg better than Reddit.

  32. The problem with digg is that it buries the most important minority on earth. The individual. We need a ratings system without censorship.

    I like your idea of re-inventing digg. How about a system that bases your blogs/comments on your reputation as a blogger..etc.

    IE- Steve Olson writes intelligent material, therefore just because some people are offended by it doesn’t mean it gets taken off.

    One mightchoose to implement such a system by appointing or asking for “gate keepers” who choose what is admissible or what isn’t, based on certain criteria or principles.

    Gate Keepers – people who have common sense (a endangered species nowadays), anyone who understands the basic principles set forth in the agreement, for example: agreeing not to censor sensitive posts that are thoughtful.

    Gate Keepsers – could go through an interview process using an IM, or just go off of what comments they have made in the system and allow senior gate keepers to invite them into the group.

    Another way would be to have the system automatically give users the option of voluntering as a gate keeper of a certain topic after 10 or so blogs in that topic catagory that make it to the front page or that get a lot of comments. Bad Comments would count as well.

    The key issue here is trust

    There should also be a way to expel or change gate keepers if the topic area they are responsible for doesn’t have good content or isn’t very popular.

    Individual topic areas such as : Politics or Economics could have multiple gate keepers, which ensures that things don’t get censored as easily.

    Just some ideas here. Feel free to critisize or add some of your own.

  33. Actually the problem with Digg is just the opposite of what you’re saying. The website has such a ludicrous, obvious liberal agenda that even liberals are starting to get sick of the transparently hyperpoliticized BS. People want the website to be taken seriously, that’s why they sometimes dig down articles that are say… completely fabricated yellow journalism or slimy exploitation of children via. some boring picture of an over-the-top, handwritten sign.

    But hey, I guess if it’s not some huge liberal whine-fest with a complete disregard for credibility, then that means it’s been “sanitized.” Just so you’ll know, though, the really festive stuff gets dugg down sometimes because we don’t all want to look like a bunch of reactionist idiots who are too lazy to actually read anything but the headline.

  34. I think the whole ladder idea of Digg and Reditt is a target practice range. Really ignorant. I have seen so called great articles crappy, and bad articles really good. Its like shopping, I have seen good quality products at low cost, and bad quality products at a high price. The whole idea of evaluation is entirely up to the reader, or buyer. The only thing I would suggest is to have a format where an article was recommended to read, with no evaluation claiming its worthlessness. This way people are left to make their own decision from reading, not from how many bad hits it got. Killing stories or articles in my opinion is against freedom of speech, and shouldn’t we support that concept. If a person disagrees with an article they are free to write their own aren’t they? So why this demerit ladder scheme. I find it more of an obstacle than a solution to readership.

  35. I know what you mean, since Digg is DOMINATED by Obama guys, anything that I write that is Pro-Capitalism, gets buried. To top it off, I ended up getting my account banned with no warning and no explanation.

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