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The Problem with Digg-Like Websites
Date 12/17/2008    Tags Web    (0)

Writing an article or blog often isn't the hardest part of the process... getting people to take notice of your masterpiece is. That's why link congregation websites such as Digg.com (their unholy King) can be so great. Unfortunately though, the manner in which the publicize links is also flawed.

Most of these sites display the most voted/popular stories on their main page (either from the current day or current week). These stories tend to get a lot of traffic. The problem is that it's not easy to get on this listing.

On Digg for instance, you should expect to need around 35 votes for your story to appear on the main page. The problem is that few people browse the upcoming stories pages (a list of stories that have yet to reach the required votes to be displayed on the main page) nor are these stories displayed in an obvious fashion. Typically an article I post might generate 4-5 hits from the upcoming stories page. That's just people visiting the page, not voting on it. There is no way I could expect to ever reach the approximately 35 votes that I need to make it a popular story this way.

So how do sites get the needed votes? As I see it, there are three ways.

  1. You've already got a really popular website and a whole bunch of your readers vote your story up to the required amount of votes. This results in bigger sites having their links on the main pages of these sites more often than smaller ones, regardless of the quality of the article.
  2. Either you or someone that likes your site is a very active Digg user and has amassed a large network of friends that read anything that you post. Social networking like this is a big part of success on Digg but it means you must invest a lot of time into the site. For a webmaster that just wants some more traffic for their site, this isn't the most feasible thing to do.
  3. You're a very shady person that has created a ton of fake accounts and votes up your own story. Probably the easiest way to go, though admins at these sites will be doing their best to stop you.
Ideally I'd like to see the upcoming story pages mean more on sites like Digg. There are most certainly a number of good articles that go unseen because of how little emphasis is placed on getting users to see these new stories. If people were reading all the articles and not just those from popular sites or submitted by popular users, it would ultimately lead to a much better quality of articles on the main page too.

I'm currently creating a website that will be similar in function to Digg (now available in a very early beta). I intend on keeping a large list of the most recently submitted material on each page so that every article posted gets a fair shake at becoming popular. I'm sure this will work initially, but I may have to take another approach if the volume of links coming in ever nears half of what some of the bigger link sharing websites get. At that point though, I won't just complain, I'll do something about it. 0" height


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