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Author Topic: How Digg Gets Everything Backwards.. And How to Fix It  (Read 78187 times)
housetier
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« Reply #25 on: September 20, 2006, 01:41:26 PM »

A very good point!  thumbs up

I can't say much now, not before I have given it more thought...
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mouser
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« Reply #26 on: September 20, 2006, 01:51:19 PM »

perhaps the main difference in this case is that no one cares enough what is at top of forum thread list, so there isn't much incentive to "game the system".

also, threads only get "bumped" when they are "replied to", which means that its obvious who is bumping threads, and only real forum users ever reply to a thread; so there is no effect where threads are bumped based on their catchy titles, etc.
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urlwolf
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« Reply #27 on: September 20, 2006, 02:26:39 PM »

I think dc may have one of the highest signal-to-noise ratio on the web. Some forum posts are long and ellaborate.

Hmm, maybe someone could do some research on what is behing that. Maybe forums as CMS are just better? Maybe it's the project management by mouser?
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app103
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« Reply #28 on: September 20, 2006, 03:25:09 PM »

maybe it's the quality of membership here  Wink
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JavaJones
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« Reply #29 on: September 30, 2006, 04:01:59 AM »

So you want to recreate Slashdot? Wink Seriously, the only difference there is the "domain expert" focus - how you define these experts and how they are assigned/elected. On Slashdot it's purely a social thing, there appears to be no other merit involved, but there's nothing to say that a similar election by the general public wouldn't get you the George Bush of content editors. Oops, got a little political there, sorry. Wink

Ok, so I like the idea of turning things on their head, but isn't this how a lot of sites already work? Isn't what people are excited about with Digg the fact that "the people" have more direct control? So even if you did successfully create such a site and the content were "better" (is this measurable?), would anyone really care?

I'm still curious whether a true example of this model already exists. I suspect it does, or darn close to it. Slashdot is actually pretty close, as I mentioned. Again the main differentiator is the definition of experts at the filter/editor level. If an even closer example can be found, I think the measure of its success might be instructive in this argument.

Then the question becomes: what is the goal of your site? Is it a place for a lot of smart people to enjoy quality stories, but not necessarily to attract "the masses"? If so I think that's a realistic goal. But you will inevitably be dealing with a minority and this includes your submitting body of general visitors. To really get the proper aggregate you'd need to attract more public interest, but can you do that without the Digg draw, the MySpace draw? The reason all of these sites are big - despite their glaring flaws (and I fully acknowledge them) - is people like to be told their important and given some level of power to show it (MySpace customization, for example). So what would be done with this proposed site to get people's interest and show its value over Digg to the average person? Once again this is much less of an issue if the average person is not the audience.

Just remember that Average Joe seems pretty happy with Digg so really what you're trying to do is convince people that the "exciting, hip, new "unbiased", people-driven way of finding news" is wrong, and that's hard work. cheesy This is not a fundamentally wrong concept, it's just fighting against human nature IMO. I would love to be convinced otherwise!

- Oshyan
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mouser
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« Reply #30 on: September 30, 2006, 04:13:47 AM »

all great points..
i think of particular relevance is this point:
Quote
Just remember that Average Joe seems pretty happy with Digg so really what you're trying to do is convince people that the "exciting, hip, new "unbiased", people-driven way of finding news" is wrong, and that's hard work.

i claim digg is totally fuxored and manipulated and susceptible to stupid fads, and does not do a good job at locating "good sites" as opposed to "good sounding titles".  and again by "good sites" i mean what i say above: "I define a "good" story as one which is considered good by those actually take the time to read the stories and have some interest in the subject area, as opposed to stories which simply sound appealing based on their title.  "

so i'm advocating a model for those who actually care about finding the good articles.  in other words, if you are looking for a car, do you want the car with the best name, spokesperson, and marketing campaign, or the car that looks+drives best and has best service?

if your answer is the latter, then i suggest digg is not what you want.

if i want a recommendation for what car to buy, i want to base it on reviews of people who know cars, not by holding up the marketing brochure and asking the votes of a room full of people who like to answer surveys but have never driven a care, combined with paid shills for the car companies .
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mouser
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« Reply #31 on: September 30, 2006, 04:17:43 AM »

the main difference with slashdot is that slashdot is not transparent or accountable.  plus they have bad taste (imho).

i'm not really advocating a dramatic change - it's more that i am advocating for a sort of traditional middle level role for editors, but tweaking the methods for which ideas are submitted (ie a much more bottom-up accountable, trackable system by which story ideas percolate up), and methods by which editors are chosen and evaluated.

this is sort of where i think we are going with the idea of the new review section by the way..
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JavaJones
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« Reply #32 on: September 30, 2006, 04:54:53 AM »

Yes, I was just going to say that. It seems like a very strong running theme for us is transparency, oppenness. I like it. In a way one could say we could take any existing site or service and potentially improve it by increasing transparency, and that can be a guiding principle. It is of course just a principle and it might not hold true in all cases, but I do like the idea of transparency, honesty, oppenness as a core driving value.

With that in mind it seems much less harmful to the concept to say "it's like Slashdot, only better", because now we define why it's better and the why is potentially compelling. Although I must mention that Slashdot having "bad taste" is really just pointing out one of the problems with all of this - who defines good taste? cheesy I suppose what you're trying to do is create a site that will find you stuff *you* would be interested in reading. And really I think most of the best ventures are started that way, by people who identify a problem they are familiar with and that probably affects them, and then attempting to solve it.

So I say bring on "The Transparent Slashdot". Given that Slashdot and similar sites already exist and their frameworks are often readily available for creating new sites, technology does not seem to be a current barrier. It becomes a matter of finding the right people. That may be quite a challenge in itself though.

Oh, but I do find myself wondering just what "accountability" means in this context and how a site like Slashdot could be "more accountable".

- Oshyan
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mouser
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« Reply #33 on: September 30, 2006, 05:03:45 AM »

by transparent/accountable inthe framework is discuss above i am specifically referring to:
1) you could see all decisions made by expert representatives/editors (ie which submitted stories they rejected, voted for or against).
2) expert editors might be subject to election.

see above #11 (A Representative Elected Body of Expert Voters)

im not sure we want to go that far with out reviews, but that was the point i was trying to make in terms of differences with my proposed model vs. slashdot.
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JavaJones
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« Reply #34 on: September 30, 2006, 03:37:06 PM »

Yes, the "transparency" doesn't need to be the same between different systems, but as a foundational principle I think it's a good one for many systems.

Do you think people would elect effective editors? Or would it just be the same dumb social game all over again? I suggest a meritocracy. cheesy

- Oshyan
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JavaJones
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« Reply #35 on: October 03, 2006, 05:52:52 PM »

Note: all of these previous replies of mine were made without having actually read a lot of the stuff above because I was looking at an older version of the post/thread. cheesy

Anyway, interesting Mouser, the more I read about this stuff, the less I think agree with you. cheesy In fact I think the simplest fix for Digg is just to remove the reward for "Power Diggers". In this case, since there's no financial incentive (generally speaking), the reward is notoriety. So take away their fame, their profiles, etc. What matters (or should matter) there is not *who* Dugg something but *that it was Dugg* by enough people to get it to the front page. I grant that this doesn't address the problem of people being attracted to good headlines alone, or sensationalism, but I think a much more fundamental issue is the "elite" problem discussed a great deal in these articles. I think the Shmula.com "Digg as a game" article has some very good stuff to say on this which also happens to agree with me:
Quote
My Proposal

If Digg were to be relevant again, it must tackle the problems of GroupThink, Conformity, Paradigm Shift and Information Cascades.
To tackle Groupthink, make it truly democratic again — do not profile Top Diggers or elevate anybody higher than anyone else. This includes no special weights on previous digging history, etc. — level playing ground for everyone, no monarchies or philosopher-kings.
To tackle the problem of conformity, do not show profile or # of votes for up-and-coming dugg articles. Just show the article link, with no profiles or votes attached to it. As a compromise, only show the profiles and votes on the articles that make the digg front page, but make them un-diggable from the front page.

Doing the above 2 items will most likely fix the Paradigm Shift and Information Cascade problem.

That is coming from someone versed in game theory, and as he shows Digg can be very well visualized using game theory principles. So it stands to reason it could be fixed using similar analysis.

Quote
The idea of a representative voting system for the experts means that users can vote on (or rate) experts in much the same way they currently rate stories has a number of benefits.  Voting on experts based on their long term editing choices seems more rational and likely to lead to considered decisions as opposed to instantaneous mass voting based on a glimpse at headline titles.

This is interesting - who is to say people won't just positively rate bad reviewers? This just makes the choice of reviewers as big a problem as the choice and voting of stories, IMO. It shifts but does not solve the problem. The problem, at least beyond the "elite" issue discussed above, is that people are basically stupid and easily influenced. They like vapid entertainment and are headline driven. In fact isn't this almost how Digg works already, just more formalized? How else do people become "elite" except by implicit "votes" of support? How can you know the same flawed social dynamics will not govern the influence of your "elite editing body"?

You are trying to solve a fundamental problem of humanity with a rearrangement of the pieces, while still maintaining some semblance of democracy. I say if the people are the problem (and they are cheesy) then forget about it, just make it a benevolent dictatorship: problem solved! mrgreen

Meanwhile StumbleUpon doesn't really seem to be trying to do the same thing at all. It operates on the same fundamental principles, but - aside the "buzz.stumbleupon" page linked above, which is acknowledged to be "not the point" - it is focused more on suggesting things based on user history and predicted preference while browsing. It essentially takes the direct user element out of the equation in terms of choosing stories to look at. Obviously you can choose to look at something else if it suggests something you don't like, but without a "front page of headlines" it's really trying for something much different than any traditional media. Much more like viral marketing in that the majority of it happens person-to-person and behind the scenes rather than collected on some aggregator ("front page") like most news outlets. So while there may be lessons to be learned from SU (don't let users vote from front page, for example), the goals are different so a direct comparison isn't really useful IMO.

I must say I'm very interested in the influence on popularity of each of these sites' various approaches to these things. Is Digg popular because of these problems? I see it as a distinct possibility.

- Oshyan
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app103
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« Reply #36 on: October 04, 2006, 09:00:39 AM »

Take away the profiles.

List all links in the order in which they were submitted.

Votes are a sidenote and do not elevate the position or order in which links are displayed except on a top 25 page buried elsewhere on the site, after voting is closed (yes, you can only vote for a limited length of time).

All links start out on a today's links members only page and are pushed to the front page for all to see by experts who evaluate links submitted and watch the activity in the comments section of each post, either approving and pushing or rejecting (much in the way it is done with the DC blog)...rejected links staying on the today's links members only page. Spam links are of course deleted.

All commenting is done anonymously, with only the internal system able to identify who the commenter is. Nobody will know who submitted the link. The identity of the submitter only matters if the content is inappropriate. (almost 4chan /b/ style)

wait a minute...except for the anonymous commenting and lack of profiles, this sounds like Fark.com  embarassed

And on Fark, submitters are encouraged to make the most sensational headline descriptions for links as possible. Everything is done with a sense of humor. And if you want to see more links and access the members only area, support the site and become a paid member.
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mouser
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« Reply #37 on: October 04, 2006, 02:47:35 PM »

A very interesting new article that focuses on what i have been saying for a long time is the key problem, that digg (like google) incentivizes bad behavior:
http://www.shmula.com/216...-a-lesson-in-freakonomics

the key to fixing these things has to be removing the incentive for gaming the system, because quotes like this from digg founders (and the similar stuff is said by google) is just wrong:

Quote
We have sophisticated anti-gaming processes. We are spending a lot in R & D to prevent gaming. Motivations don’t matter.

just like google's adsense has now become a playground for click fraud, and has created an entire shadow web of fake websites designed to get search engine traffic, until you fix the incentives, you are turning our internet into an engine for manipulation and gaming by those who make money by figuring out how to trick algorithms into bringing them traffic.
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JavaJones
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« Reply #38 on: October 04, 2006, 03:04:30 PM »

Agreed. Removing the incentives isn't always easy, of course. Especially as in the case of Google where money is involved. It should be fairly easy for Digg though. But I would guess they realize a good part of their popularity seems to stem from the very same things that make gaming such a problem: social incentives, status, etc.

Btw interesting that the Shmula post essentially recommends commodifying Digg for a similar reason to that which I think is at work here with the DonationCredit system. I still intend to post more on that one day...

- Oshyan
« Last Edit: October 04, 2006, 03:22:51 PM by JavaJones » Logged

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Mizraim
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« Reply #39 on: October 04, 2006, 03:07:38 PM »

After reading the whole post, I still don't know what digg is... did I miss it or am I just naive?
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Deozaan
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« Reply #40 on: October 04, 2006, 03:10:00 PM »

After reading the whole post, I still don't know what digg is... did I miss it or am I just naive?

Digg is kind of like a website rank tool that anybody on the internet can "Digg" to say "Hey, this is cool, more people should see this!" Then it shows up at Digg.com as having so many Diggs that naturally other people go and see it.
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Mizraim
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« Reply #41 on: October 04, 2006, 03:12:19 PM »

Oh. I see. So the idea is to get the ones you want top rated by the small replies:
I agree.
Bump.
Yes.

And so on...
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Deozaan
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« Reply #42 on: October 04, 2006, 03:22:41 PM »

Oh. I see. So the idea is to get the ones you want top rated by the small replies:
I agree.
Bump.
Yes.

And so on...

Not quite. You click on a link that says "Digg this" and then the Digg website lists all the Digged links in order of how many Diggs it has. So you just Digg it and get all your friends to Digg it so that it goes up high on the list.
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