Sunday, April 8, 2007

Fixing Digg

Last week, I wrote a post called Is the Digg Effect Over?, in which I complained about the problems with Digg. But given some thought, I thought that it might be useful for to supply some suggestions to improve Digg, which are:
  • Digg should become more of a "Long Tail" site
  • Add More Categories
  • Add Editorial pick stories
Becoming more of a "Long Tail" site

For those that have read Chris Anderson's Book " The Long Tail" , you realize that the long tail refers to the content that is usually left out of normal, main stream media. Now, what does his have to do with Digg? Well, one of the many principals behind Digg is the ability to find stories that you want to read. But, because of the Digg model ("The Hits Model"), it has the weakness where only the most popular stories at the time see the light of day and the rest stay close to the bottom of the pile. So how do we fix this?

Add More Categories

By having more Categories it allows for more people to find the stories that they want by allowing the stories to become more filtered. How does this work? Well, say I was looking for news on the Apple iPhone. When I log into Digg I see all stories, but no iPhone stories, so I click on "Technology" where I see all Tech stories and probably no iPhone. So I click on "Apple" under Technology where I can see the story " iPhone confirmed for Rogers Wireless in Canada. Again. and no other iPhone stories. Under the current system, if I wanted to read more about the iPhone I would have to perform a search, but if there was a "iPhone" sub category under "Apple" I would simply be able to click that and see the most recent iPhone stories. In this case a simple search would work, but what if I were looking for something new and I didn't know the name of it. You probably won't find it since other stories will probably overshadow it and making it impossible to find. And example is the story One Second Film with over 7,000 Producers!, which I read about a week two ago and had an idea what the story was called, but still had difficulty finding it using the search.

Another advantage of having more categories is that it is less likely that a small group will be able to dominate Digg. This works since someone that is into Tech news is probably not equally into all areas of tech. Thus preventing postings in those areas that he or she is not into from being over shadowed. So, someone that is an Apple fan is probably not equally a windows fan and so if he or she dominates in the "Apple" category he or she probably won't dominate the "Windows" category.

Also, by having more categories, it also invites different kinds of stories to be posted. Sometimes if their isn't a category that fits a certain type of story it discourages people from posting them. An Example is "Car" stories. If you want to post a story about a new car, where do you put it. It doesn't really belong in any of the current categories and so it could discourage people from posting "Car" stories. Although for some, it makes them become inventive and submit the story in a category that it doesn't really belong in. An example is if you perform a search for "cars"you will find that there are stories in pretty much all categories. Some are in Design, which is the same section that you find stories about wallpapers and web page designs. Some are in Tech Industry News, which is the same category that this article is being submitted to.

Finally, by having more categories, and thus more stories, it invites more different types of people to come to Digg. Digg right now is a primarily for people into "Tech". There are far more tech stories than anything else on the site (which is fine with me), but the vision of Digg is to be appealing to all types of users and so you need the stories and thus the categories that will appeal to a broader audience of people. If I were into fashion I wouldn't be on Digg since there are no fashion stories. If I were a car enthusiast I wouldn't probably come to Digg since I would look at the categories and not see it and probably leave.

Editor's Picks

Another way that Digg could help people to find the stories that they want is by having an "Editors Picks" section under each category (or at lest the most popular categories). The job of the editor would be simple. To go out and look at the incoming stories, go through them and pick out the stories that he or she finds to be most news worthy or interesting. Now, some may say that this goes against Digg's model. But I disagree, since we already have some types of editorial services on Digg where users are able to look at what stories other people on Digg are digging, and so by having an "Editor's Picks" category, all it does is carry this same idea forward, and does it a little more professionally.

I hope that these suggests do help those at Digg. But then again, maybe they have already thought of these ideas and didn't think that these ideas would work. In any case, Digg will be around for some time to come and so lest see what changes do eventually come.

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