Gaming Digg or is anybody actually looking at the posts?

After quite some discussions the last days on Digg power users dominating the front page stories at Digg we today stumbled over something rather strange. How can people rate a story when they can’t even access it? And how does a story that nobody can access make it to the front page with high numbers?

Let’s have a look at that chart below from the guys over at Dugg trends that mirror sites on the Digg popular list:

img Duggtrend

Even before the story made it to the front page of Digg the site went off-line and no archives were available to actually see the content. To be more precise the site is now more than 4 hours offline quite some time before the Digg-effect really started.

We have – to verify our points – checked all available archives and could not see anything but a few lines of text (on Google after 10 minutes waiting for the response).

We did recently see that now some are openly advertising service(s) and guaranteeing you to be digged when you participate in their scam networks (for obvious reasons no link here).
So we had a look who digged this story:

Well almost all the users (forgive us when we generalize here) never promoted any story before. But it became really interesting when we looked at the quite high number of sites that within hours have blogged this:

Out of the six sites one was not reachable anymore seemingly too much traffic gained from the digged story. All the other sites are what we call site-scappers – web sites that display only links with a short text but almost all the time don’t create content themselves. You can setup such a site in a few hours e.g. by displaying results from RSS feeds.

But here all sites that could be reached even displayed the same line of text with a read more jump to a new page that just showed the same sentence again.

Two possible scenarios here:
1. When looking at their sites you generate traffic that results in search engine authority and money for the site owners – With sites like that you get nothing in return.
2. Digg might check in their algorithms if sites are linking to a story

We hope that this is only about creating traffic. Here seemingly Digg users are creating traffic not only for the site that has the story but also for some others. We are not sure but it looks in this particular case as if it was orchestrated.

Below screen shots from the archive results and the digged web site.

img site and archive response

So if you can’t read or visit a post DON’T JUST DIGG IT.
Check the archives and mirror sites before. It is very unusual that none of them have the site cached.

We were already getting a bit suspicious the last days on some stories that made it to the front page (content and web sites). While we can’t prove that the specific story above is setup or being used just to create traffic without content, there is seemingly something wrong here – and if its only that people did not read an article before recommending it. In a worst case this has been setup just to game the system of “crowd” rating at Digg. If thats the case and Digg does not find a way to fight these spammers soon, its value – getting information first and of good quality – is lost.

Update 1 (06-Nov-2006 12:30pm):
We put this post up at Digg with the following Digg link

The story was immediately dugg by a few users and also in minutes it disappeared (???got buried by others). While this might be controversial there is no reason to remove a post asking users to read something before recommending it.

Digg support is currently looking into the issue

Update 2 (07-Nov-2006 08:00am):
In the meantime Digg Support informed us they removed our post because it was buried from different IP addresses. Digg did not explain why our story was the only one on gaming Digg so far ever been buried. It was going very strong and was digged by “some users” immediately. Seemingly we must have hit a very weak spot of them here. In difference to other stories that were describing negative personal experiences that some had with Digg – we where showing live that their system is not working anymore. And everybody could see for them self.

Nevertheless the site pointed to in the article that got more than 600 diggs without being accessible just came back up about 30 minutes ago. The “story” consist of about 70 words (merely 4 short lines) asking you what your first MS Windows version was. The rest is just a series of screen shots with older versions of Windows being “displayed” with about 2 images. One Title line and a few screen shots collected somewhere per OS version. Nice copy/paste job but not very informative – I believe most users would have expected more…

If you are interested in “historic” MS Windows screen shots we suggest you look at Nathan’s Graphical User Interface Gallery. This is where seemingly the majority(???) of the screen shots in the questioned article originate from.

Another good Graphical User Interface Gallery is Guidebook

Update 3 (08-Nov-2006 07:15am):
We have created a short summary of what has happened so far since our article went live.

(The story you’re reading was blocked / removed from Digg
within less than 15 min while the Spam pointed to continued to be going strong –
see the number of Diggs our story got in a few minutes =>
with that speed of Diggs it would have made it to the Frontpage in less than an hour – seemingly somebody got rather nervous here…

Update 19-Dec-2006: Digg has since our article was published changed the way stories are removed. Now spammers can not that easily remove other stories criticizing them anymore…

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(3) Comments »

3 Responses to “Gaming Digg or is anybody actually looking at the posts?”

  1. The Mu Life » Did You Read The Article? Says:

    [...] What makes for even more interesting analysis is when people vote for stories there isn’t even any content available on the other end of the link: [...]

  2. Casey Says:

    Does any one know how digg does those google ads so they are just one large one at the top?
    Jump on to any digg article to see what i mean (cant post links yet)

  3. lasix surery in ct and ny Says:

    I have looked into that before and I will keep that in mind. ,