Digg is a website made for people to discover and share content from anywhere on the Internet, by submitting links and stories, and voting and commenting on submitted links and stories. Voting stories up and down is the site's cornerstone function, respectively called digging and burying. Many stories get submitted every day, but only the most dugg stories appear on the front page.
Digg's popularity has prompted the creation of other social networking sites with story submission and voting systems.
"We started working on developing the site back in October 2004," Kevin Rose told ZDNet. "We started toying around with the idea a couple of months prior to that, but it was early October when we actually started creating what would become the beta version of Digg. The site launched to the world on December 5, 2004."
Kevin Rose's friend David Prager (The Screen Savers, This Week in Tech) originally wanted to call the site “Diggnation”, but Kevin wanted a simpler name. He chose the name "Digg", because users are able to "dig" stories, out of those submitted, up to the front page. The site was called “Digg” instead of “Dig” because the domain name “dig.com” was previously registered, by Walt Disney Internet Group. “Diggnation” would eventually be used as the title of Kevin Rose and Alex Albrecht's weekly podcast discussing popular stories from Digg.
The original design was free of advertisements, and was designed by Dan Ries. As Digg became more popular, Google AdSense was added to the website. In July 2005, the site was updated to "Version 2.0". The new "version" featured a friends list, the ability to "digg" a story without being redirected to a "success" page, and a new interface designed by web design company Silverorange. The site developers have stated that in future versions a more minimalist design will likely be employed. On Monday June 26, 2006 version 3 of Digg was released with specific categories for Technology, Science, World & Business, Videos, Entertainment and Gaming as well as a View All section where all categories are merged.
Digg has grown large enough that submissions sometimes create a sudden increase of traffic to the "dugg" website. This is referred to by some Digg users as the "Digg effect" and by some others as the site being "dugg to death". However, in many cases stories are linked simultaneously on several popular bookmarking sites. In such cases, the impact of the "digg effect" is difficult to isolate and assess. Wordpress is especially known for its tendency to crash under the increased traffic.
Several reports have come forward claiming Digg has been trying to sell itself to a larger company since early 2006. While Adelson claims that Digg will meet with any potential buyers, he denies that they will actively begin talks for a sale. The most recent sale talks were with Google in July 2008 for approximately 200 million dollars. On July 25th, during the due diligence part of the potential sale, Google informed Digg that they were not interested in the purchase.
As a result of Google's decision, Digg entered into a second round of funding, receiving $28.7 million from investors such as Highland Capital Partners. With this funding, the company plans to move from their current offices to accommodate a bigger staff base. It has been reported that during this time CEO Jay Adelson & founder Kevin Rose sold some of their stock, reportedly making around $2 million each.
Digg has come under criticism for varying reasons. Most disparagements are centered on the site's form of user-moderation: users have too much control over content, allowing sensationalism and misinformation to thrive. The site has also suffered the risk of companies paying for stories submitted to the site, similar to the phenomenon of company-attempted Google bombing.
Other critics feel that the site's operators may exercise too much control over which articles appear on the front page as well as the comments on Digg's forums. Some users complain that they have been blocked from posting, and their accounts disabled, for making comments in the user-moderated forums that conflict with the personal interests of Digg's operators. The existence of the "bury" option has also been criticized as undemocratic and due to its anonymous nature, unaccountable, which often leads to expungement of criticism of hotbed topics that do not mesh with the prevailing view of the community. Another criticism in this area has been how a faulty or misleading article can reach many users quickly, blowing out of proportion the unsupported claims or accusations (a mob mentality).
Certain Digg users have been accused of operating a "Bury Brigade" that tags articles with which they disagree as spam, thus attempting to bury stories critical of Digg. One commentator states that one of the site's major problems:
It has been reported that the top 100 Digg users posted 56% of Digg's frontpage content, and that a niche group of just twenty individuals had submitted 25% of the frontpage content. A few sites have raised the problem of groupthink and the possibility that the site is being "manipulated", so to speak. In response to this question, the site's founder Kevin Rose has announced an upcoming change to the site's algorithm:
While we don't disclose exactly how story promotion works (to prevent gaming the system), I can say that a key update is coming soon. This algorithm update will look at the unique digging diversity of the individuals digging the story. Users that follow a gaming pattern will have less promotion weight. This doesn't mean that the story won't be promoted, it just means that a more diverse pool of individuals will be needed to deem the story homepage-worthy.
Although some users defended Digg's actions, as a whole the community staged a widespread revolt with numerous articles and comments being made using the encryption key. The scope of the user response was so great that one of the Digg users referred to it as a "digital Boston Tea Party". The response was also directly responsible for Digg reversing the policy and stating:
But now, after seeing hundreds of stories and reading thousands of comments, you’ve made it clear. You’d rather see Digg go down fighting than bow down to a bigger company. We hear you, and effective immediately we won’t delete stories or comments containing the code and will deal with whatever the consequences might be.|20px|20px|Kevin Rose