I’m not a regular user of Digg so I tend to ignore the usual controversy of the month style storms that end up on Techmeme whenever they tweak their algorithm for promoting items from the upcoming queue to the front page. Today I decided to take a look at the current controversy and clicked on the story So Called Top Digg Users Cry About Digg Changes which led me to the following comment by ethicalh
the algorithm uses the "social networking" part of digg now. if you are a mutual friend of the submitter your vote is cancelled and wont go towards promotion to the frontpage, and if you're a mutual friend of someone who has already dugg the story, your vote is cancalled and won't go towards promotion to the frontpage. so if you don't have a friends list and don't use the social networking part of digg then you can still be a top digger. you just need to create a new account and don't be tempted to add anyone as a friend, because the new algorithm is linked upto everyones friends list now. thats the real reason digg added social networking, is so they could eventually hook it upto the algorithm, thats the secret reason digg introduced social networking and friends lists onto the digg site.
A number of people confirmed the behavior in the comments. It seems that all votes from mutual friends (i.e. people on each other’s friends list) are treated as a single vote. So if we are three friends that all use Digg and have each other on our friends’ lists then if all three of us vote for a story, it is counted as a single vote. This is intended to subvert cliques of “friends” who vote up articles and encourage diversity or so the Digg folks claim in a quote from a New York Times article on the topic.
My first impression was that this change seems pretty schizophrenic on the part of the Digg developers. What is the point of adding all sorts of features that enable me to keep tabs on what other Digg users are voting up if you don’t want me to vote up the ones I like as well? Are people really supposed to trawl through http://www.digg.com/tech_news/upcoming to find stories to vote up instead of just voting up the ones their friends found that they thought were cool as well? Yeah…right.
But thinking deeper, I realize that this move is even more screwed up. The Digg developers are pretty much penalizing you for using a feature of the site. You actually less value out of the site by using the friends feature. Because once you start using the friends feature, it is less likely that stories you like will be voted to the front page due to the fact that your vote doesn’t count if someone on your friends list has already voted for the story.
So why would anyone want to use the friends feature once they realize this penalty exists?
Now playing: Dogg Pound - Ridin', Slipin' & Slidin'