Last week Digg removed the "Top Diggers" list in order to help stop the manipulation and gaming of Digg, which resulted in a lot of commotion. Today, I wanted to take a fresh look to explain how the move may impact Digg’s "Friending" system and possibly allow more non-top Diggers to place stories with the service.
Without the top users list, it will be harder for new Digg users to friend the top 100 users. For those not familiar, any Digg user can make another Digg user their friend. You just find a Digger’s profile or Dugg page like this. Look under their icon, and you’ll see an Add Friend option:
When you make someone a friend, you see everything they submit, via the Friends tab in your profile. Here’s an example of what Danny Sullivan sees from people he’s friended:
The top 100 Digg users have a lot of power in Digg. When they vote for something, their votes carry a lot of weight. In addition, they’ll have a network of people who may vote with them. So becoming friends with a top user might increase the odds of getting Dugg.
Just making a top user your friend doesn’t mean they’ll befriend you. But it’s a start. When you befriend someone, they can spot this. You’ll be listed on their Befriended page. You can see this for any user by doing to that person’s Friends list, such as here. Then select the "Who Befriended this User?" link below the person’s name:
That takes you to a page like this:
Befriending someone is a first step toward attracting their attention. If they decide to make a friendship mutual, then they will start seeing the submissions you make (or those of anyone they friend) via their Friends page.
That brings us back to the loss of the top 100 Diggers. If you can’t find them, then this should decrease the amount of new users that just friend the top 100 users in order to get their stories to the homepage of Digg.
The fallout from that? It could cause more companies to hit up more users in general and offer them money for submissions. Potentially, they may even offer many of these top users money for their account to take over their accounts. Keep in mind that while the official list is gone, others are recreating it, such as here. Removing the official list makes it harder to find top Diggers but hardly impossible.
The change might also help non-top Diggers do better with Digg. One of the reasons Digg removed the list is because they want users to friend others with similar interests. This will start legitimizing the friends feature more and hopefully cause more people to use it. If everyone starts using this feature, then more non-top users will hopefully be able to get stories to the homepage as easily as top users.
Related to this, over the past couple months, it seems that if a story received 40 votes from a group of related "Digg friends," it would not have the same weight as votes from 40 random Digg users. The removal of the list will give the Digg crew an option to remove the penalization of too many friends digging each other’s stories.
How about the potential loss of respect top Diggers may feel, now that the list is gone? That respect is important, especially given that the Digg crew does not pay users like Netscape. The list was a way to promote those top Diggers who spend hundreds of hours making Digg what it is. I am not sure exactly how, but I think the Digg crew will come up with something to keep the top users happy another way.
I think this change has the potential of improving the quality of the stories that hit the homepage and stop a lot of corporate promotions. My guess is that there will be more changes like this coming in the future, such as the removal of the friends’ submitted feature because it is causing users to Digg (vote on) thousands of stories that they aren’t even reading. In turn, that causes not so great stories to hit the homepage.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.