Neil Patel covered the new podcast feature at Digg in yesterday’s story, The New Digg Features Plus, A Submitter’s Perspective, but I wanted to take a deeper look at how it works plus maybe entice a few votes for my own podcast, The Daily SearchCast, along the way.
Having played with a number of podcast directories over the past year, Digg Podcasts is surprisingly traditional. The main page shows the most popular shows (shows, not individual episodes), similar to how you’ll see these at Yahoo Podcasts. Unlike Yahoo, Digg popularity is determined by the number of diggs.
As Neil noted, the most unusual thing in the voting is that unlike regular Digg, currency isn’t a factor. In other words, the Digg home page is designed to constantly be refreshed with stories that the community finds interesting. Stories will come and go as time passes.
The Digg podcast page is almost certainly going to be far more static, with the most popular podcasts among the Digg community getting voted up to the top and staying there over time. It will be a great surprise if Digg’s own podcast, Diggnation, ever slips from the number one spot.
Beyond seeing the most popular podcasts, you can also drill down to see podcasts grouped into categories. These are all listed at the top of the Digg Podcast area and range from Arts/Culture to TV/Film.
Each podcast has its own page, from where you can then view individual episodes. For example, here’s the Daily SearchCast on Digg. You can see a description of the podcast, use the "Show Podcast Details" link to get more information about the author, podcast website and podcast feed plus see current episodes.
Episodes are NOT listed in order of most diggs, unlike elsewhere in Digg Podcasts. You can notice this by looking at the Diggnation page, where some episodes with lots of diggs are listed below those with fewer. Instead, podcasts are listed chronologically. That makes sense, though it would be nice to see a feature come along to rerank episodes by diggs received.
Episodes appear to accumulate over time. For example, the Daily SearchCast currently only shows episodes back through Nov. 14. That matches the number of episodes shown in the current feed. As new episodes get added, I expect that new Digg pages will be created for them. However, Digg’s making no attempt to spider or go back and build up archives of past shows.
That highlights a missing feature. What if there’s a special show you want to feature or someone else wants to feature? There’s no way to submit individual episodes, if they are not already listed. Instead, you can only submit the overall show.
Submission of shows is slightly different than the Digg norm. In general, submitting your own content is frowned upon in Digg. It’s not impossible to do, but it’s something that should be done with care and respect for the community, hopefully accompanied by a history of having contributed lots of quality material over time.
In contrast, I see no reason why anyone should hesitate from submitting their own podcast. Mine was already listed with Digg. But if it wasn’t, I’d have gone in and done it myself.
I say to be relaxed about this because the submission is tied heavily to the podcast feed itself. You’ll find a submission box near the top right-hand side of the screen, called Add New Podcast. Before using it, search to see if you can find the podcast you want, to make sure it’s not already in. No? Then submit away.
I submitted Jason Calacanis’s CalacanisCast, to see how the process works, since my podcast was already in Digg. Well, I tried to. Despite giving Digg the valid feed, it kept kicking me back to the Add New Podcast page. Maybe the thought of listing Jason’s podcast was too much to bear!
I tried again, this time with the Vegan Radio podcast. That went through, bringing me up this page:
All the information shown comes from the podcast’s feed — even the category. Within the XML are these key fields that Digg is using:
<description>News, Interviews, Music, and Vegan Culture. Vegan Radio features co-hosts Megan Shackelford and Derek Goodwin, who inject entertaining banter and irreverence into the serious subject matter that is dealt with in this show. The shows typically feature the latest news in the vegan movement, followed by interviews with interesting guests and music by vegan musicians. This well-produced show is also broadcast on FM radio in western Massachusetts.</description>
<itunes:summary>News, Interviews, Music, and Vegan Culture. Vegan Radio features co-hosts Megan Shackelford and Derek Goodwin, who inject entertaining banter and irreverence into the serious subject matter that is dealt with in this show. The shows typically feature the latest news in the vegan movement, followed by interviews with interesting guests and music by vegan musicians. This well-produced show is also broadcast on FM radio in western Massachusetts.</itunes:summary>
<category>News & Politics</category>
I’m uncertain if Digg is using the description or the itunes:summary field to make descriptions. I’ll check on this, but that’s why I’ve listed them both. But whatever is in these areas, that’s how Digg lists a site. I’m also checking on whether it is the itunes image or the standard image tag that Digg uses to make a podcast image.
Other things I’m checking is what happens if you don’t list a category for your podcast or what if they don’t match exactly or nearly to an existing Digg category. Most podcasts I know of make use of iTunes categories. Digg seems to match all of these other than Society & Culture.
Another question is how often is information refreshed. How long does it take Digg to discover you have a new episode? When that happens, if you’ve changed your overall feed information, how long until that updates. Answers to all of these things will be postscripted to this story.
Be aware that after you submit, the podcast has to be approved. Currently, this seems to take less than a day to show up.
Another issue is that Digg voting buttons for your site don’t seem to work. You’ll find the code here, but when I install it as below, it generates an error:
As I said, I’m checking on some of these issues. Returning to the service from a user’s perspective, I like that you can choose to listen right within the Digg site if you want to, using the little Listen buttons next to each episode. In fact, I’d like to see them make a page or tool explaining how to include a Digg listen button on your own site or perhaps one combined with a Digg voting button. I may cobble the code together later myself, when I have more time.
Part of me also wants some type of podcast owner "claim" tool. But given that Digg is interacting with your actual feed, that effectively puts the site owner in control. But a combined "Digg This/Listen Tool" as I’ve mentioned would be pretty nice.
Overall, I’m pretty pleased with the new tool. I used to love Odeo, until they seemed to have abandoned the service. Looking at Odeo today, it seems impossible to browse and drill down into any shows that aren’t actually featured. Next time I’m on a road trip, I’m going to hit Digg to see if there’s anything good to download for the journey.
Finally — if you like the Daily SearchCast, c’mon over and add your diggs to help the show be more visible to others! You’ll find our page on Digg here.