To play off the Technorati entry, let us pretend that you are the CEO of Digg (and no it isn’t Kevin Rose) and you are trying to stop the spamming/gaming issue that everyone is well aware of on Digg. What do you do? First let’s look at the problems and see if their solution matches any of them.
For one reason or another people like Digg. I enjoy it for the random great link I will find that makes my day. Some enjoy it because they can get on the frontpage and get a nice boost in traffic. Others like to see their names on the Top Digg Users list because it gives them a sense of accomplishment. Finally a small band of geeks love it just so they can see who will have the funniest comment in the entries.
These things are possible because you created an open system with the only rule being that you need X amount of Diggs to make the homepage. Your community thrived on this openness, yet in a society with no rules, chaos is bound to ensue sooner or later. That is what you are left with now. A community with no rules except for the ones the top people have put into place. Now you figure you want to gain your community back because some things aren’t right.
People are getting paid to push stories onto the frontpage and in a free market society that was never expected, right? People were expected to act rationally and just have fun pushing the best of the best through to the top. People would act civilized and leave insightful comments that made you think. You would have Slashdot quality news without the need for editors. The Wisdom of Crowds would kick in…
And guess what? The Wisdom of Crowds phenomenon did kick in. The geek masses love Linux, Apple, Google, Anime and Nintendo. Geeks also have a need to feel superior to their peers so they will want their stories getting pushed onto the frontpage even if it is a duplicate. Many site owners are driven by the need for that traffic fix so again and again they are going to submit trash articles. Everyone wants to be the cool, funny guy at the lunch table so the comments are going to turn into a comedy club. And hell, if you can make a little extra cash to use your power that you earned to get stuff on the frontpage then why not go for it?
Reading everything that is written can you spot the problems with Digg? Take a second to think about it and if you are one of the Digg fanboys do you really think there is a problem with a site that you continue to go back to and participating in? It fulfills so many “wants” of a Geek that the problem isn’t how to control them, the problem is getting people to understand that the system works perfectly for the way it was setup and the crowd it caters to.
So if you are the Digg CEO and you think that removing the top Digg users list will solve your problems I don’t think it will. Finding those top users isn’t a difficult task and for a lot of people you have now taken the game away from them. A portion of your audience used Digg for the game of it. For that need to show people they can be at the top. If you want to think that is pathetic or not that’s fine, but that’s how some of these people work because that was their only incentive to use Digg. What incentive have you left them with now?
If I were CEO of Digg I would help foster the passionate community that I created by not pretending I can fix things that aren’t truly broken. If you can’t give people the incentive to make a top 100 list, give them incentive some other way. You can’t take one method away without replacing it with another thinking it will solve a problem because in reality you don’t make the rules anymore. But then again, maybe it really is too late.