Has Digg Finally Dugg Its Own Grave?
Perhaps a sign of the times. Perhaps a social media tool that's outlived its usefulness. Perhaps it couldn't compete with the major power players in the social media space. But with nervous investors, the exodus of Jay Adelson, a recent 10% layoff of its staff and a lot of talk-but-no-action on a redesign of their site, with the red flags rising - they might as well be flying at half mast.
As far back as December 2007, IT tech and college instructor James Morris wrote a blog titled "Has Digg Dugg Its Own Grave." My blog today is revisiting that topic, trying to understand how that social bookmarking site eked out almost another three years of sustainable life.
In 2007, the writing was definitely on the wall, with posts such as "Ding Dong, Digg is Dead,"and "Why Nobody Should Buy Digg" flying loose and fast throughout the blogosphere. Even Mashable, one of the top ten blogs in the world wrote an article titled "Why Digg Isn't A Good Investment." In this post, writer Mark 'Rizzn' Hopkins noted the true flaw that underscores a lot of the reasons for Digg's criticisms is namely, Digg's "cultural algorithmic problems that keep it from truly being what it proclaims to be- a system that takes advantage of the 'wisdom of crowds."
What has evolved over time is a platform whereby "power diggers' could flex their muscle, act as territorial overlords and virtually take control of the keys to the kingdom. Many were even able to secure jobs on Digg's strategy teams. At one point in time, it was said that the top 100 diggers controlled 56% of Digg's homepage content. How is that tapping into the 'wisdom of crowds.'
What Digg failed to understand right from the very beginning was one of social media's major precepts. Social networking is about engendering relationships built on mutual respect and trust. Twitter is probably the one role model that Digg should have emulated over the years - because over all networks, it is the one that learned that lesson well.
As I noted in a previous post titled, "The Jigg Is Up, Digg - Time to JerryRigg!" as 2009 came to a close, news aggregators such as Inventorspot and others actually replaced the Digg widget buttons on blog posts with Twitter 'retweet' and Facbook 'share' buttons. This move alone caused a sizable decrease of traffic to the site. While Digg's unique visitors ended 2009 at 27 million, this was a marked decline from its 32 million unique visitors in September, 2008.
In Morris' assessment back in 2007, he noted that "the quality of traffic from Digg is subpar when compared to more niche-specifice networks, like Sphinn and StumbleUpon." He adds, "the referrals I've had from Digg have a short lifespan whereas networks like Stumbleupon have a longer one." This is as true today as it was back then. When I was most active on Digg, the only blogs that really saw a surge in traffic were the ones that went 'popular' and hit their homepage. All others would barely show an uptick in traffic. The diggers that have stuck with it are the ones that have built up their own 'power' base that know how to stimulate a lot of diggs in a very short period of time.
In a New York Times post, Kevin Rose indicated that his staff (minus the most recent 10% lay-off) have "been super busy on the product side" getting ready for a long-awaited Digg redesign and the release of a mobile application for both the iPhone and Android platforms. Six months ago, Rose made that same statement. And as far back as April, 2009 in an interview with TechCrunch's Michael Arrington, Rose could not give a straight answer about what he had been boasting about to the press, namely - the "biggest overhaul to the site ever." (see video here.)
So is this finally Digg's death knell, or will the bells keep tolling for another three years? One could only wonder how much longer investors will give this social bookmarking site to turn an ROI - or whether they will cut their losses and shift their focus to what is currently catching the attention of the VC crowd - location-based networking services - another area Digg never took the time to explore, understand or blend into their services.
Time will tell. But IMHO, I don't think there is a too many more nails left for that coffin.