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Digg Swallows Its Own Tail: 'Top News' Turns Mediocre as Reddit 'Games the System'

a screenshot of the front page of digg
Even if you don't use Digg or Reddit yourself, you may understand that these massive, online communities of news junkies have just as much influence as, if not more than, the major news outlets when it comes to promoting the stories you find in your daily e-mail digests and blogs. The link-happy users have constituted the Long Tail of news, bringing local and fringe stories to the mainstream with their up-voting clicks. But it seems that Digg, like the ouroboros, may be eating itself.

Last week, Digg upgraded to version 4, invoking the wrath of countless users partly due to a new feature that allows "publisher accounts" -- feeds from major media and celebrities -- to quickly attain the coveted 'Top News' section of the homepage. Sites can now push their RSS feeds directly into Digg, circumventing the user-generated news submissions that made the company as large and popular as it is.

In our post about the new Digg last week, we wrote that the new system "limits users' ability to game the system by burying or boosting a story artificially." But, Reddit users may have figured out a way to rig their stories, possibly in an attempt to expose the flaws in Digg's "promotion algorithm." When we looked, Reddit had nine of the Digg homepage's 15 top story slots -- including such typical Reddit non-news as 'Do women intentionally press there [sic] boobs up against men?'

Even worse, Digg completely blocked manual link submission from regular users this morning, granting access only to publisher account stories. Although the block has been lifted, chief executive Kevin Rose noted earlier on his Twitter account that Digg is "working hard to fix the source diversity" problem plaguing the site.

But this is just another chapter in the litany of bad press that Digg has seen over the past few months. Aside from the fact that users are having trouble with error messages across the entire site, Digg is still facing the fallout from news about the Digg Patriots, a group of conservative activists who infiltrate the site with anonymous IPs, burying any stories that don't match their political agenda.

In a sad, recursive twist, two of the top stories on the the homepage are, as of this moment, about how Digg users are sick of Digg, and joining forces with Reddit.

Tags: digg, DiggPatriots, kevin rose, KevinRose, publisher accounts, PublisherAccounts, reddit, source diversity, SourceDiversity, top