Quite a few posts went to the front page of Digg today, talking about the recent changes in Digg algorithm which caused the required votes to reach the front page to increase dramatically.
A session of the Drill Down was arranged to invite digg users into a chat to discuss their concerns and issues with the recent changes at Digg. The conversation lasted about 2 hours, and ended with the majority of top users agreeing to leave digg for a period of 4 to 5 days and possibly forever if Digg did not respond to their concerns.
Just as the conversation was about to come to an end Jay Adelson and Kevin Rose jumped into the chat room and announced they were open and willing to discuss our concerns. After a few tests to determine it was really Kevin, which including him having to favorite and digg a submission about a Duck Hunt Painting, and some time downloading skype, Kevin and Jay joined the Drill Down.
I have to say I was very impressed with the way they handled the situation and the respect they showed us. They were truly interested in answering our questions and listening to our concerns.
Below are some of the top points and a full recorded version of the Drill Down episode will be published on their blog at a later date. It should also be mentioned that Digg will be looking to that post, when it is published, to see the concerns that digg users talk about. So if you have something to say, make sure you leave a comment.
1. A concern was voiced that top users were being penalized for potentially having too big of a following. The blog post that Kevin published today talking about Digg diversity in their algorithm, was brought up and connected to a possible reason for submissions by top diggers requiring so many more diggs than other users.
Jay made a point to mention that the submitter actually has no bearing at all on the success or failure of a Digg submission. He went on to say that it was the diggs or buries cast on the submission and who was casting those actions, that determined the success or failure of a submission.
This might seem obvious, but it has long been rumored that an account might be flagged or bad for whatever reason and have less of a chance to succeed when submitting stories. Jay’s comment clearly answered that concern.
2. Auto-Bury was brought up next. Actually it was spammed pretty regularly in the chat room and finally Jay commented on it, causing that concern to be addressed.
Jay explained the idea of an auto bury feature much as I have often explained my thoughts on it. He commented that they are not shy to ban a site they feel is a bad domain for Digg and wondered why we would think they would take the time to create a secret auto bury feature. He frankly answer the question, which he repeated, with a pretty solid NO… and then asked the users to give them a little more credit than that.
Kevin Rose had finally installed Skype and called in by this point, and commented on this concern. Kevin stated that the Digg spy tool was created early on, about 3 months into the Digg project, and only uses a snapshot of the activity on Digg. Jay made a joke that if they showed all the information, it would look like our chat room with all the comments just flying by so fast you could not read them.
So basically Jay and Kevin said there is no such thing as a secret auto bury and they would not imagine wasting time on such a thing, including trying to track it with the bury recorder tool.
3. The lack of email response from Digg support was a big issue as well.
Jay and Kevin said that the responses might be slow and seemed to make the assumption we were over exaggerating, when we said we get no response at all. They referred to contacting them with issues many times, which further made me think they are just not aware that the support team is not responding to emails.
They did say they will check into it, so I hope they will find out that no emails are being responded to and fix it.
Communication was a big conversation point as well. It was mentioned how communication might have helped with the whole HD DVD code issue back in the day and would have helped with the issues today had they put some sort of forum in place.
Both Jay and Kevin seemed to really embrace this and said they would work to get a town hall and community forum in place, to allow for people to better communicate and get responses from Digg. The idea will also include a monthly town hall meeting with digg users, to discuss various concerns and issues.
4. The last conversation I will touch on was the banning of users without cause and the lack of communication or explanation a banned user receives.
Jay and Kevin talked about situations where users have a great history on their account, yet have clearly violated the terms of service. They mentioned that they have information, which they can’t reveal to the public, that could show a specific user violating the terms without question, but they are unable to release that information. So they know a user needs to be banned even if the other users do not know why.
This explanation was not aimed at any one user but they did give an example where a good user was using digg for marketing and thus had to be banned.
They also went on to indicate that the forum, that they will be creating, would be a good place to let users make a case for themselves if they felt they were banned falsely.
The conversation was over an hour long and the entire Drill Down lasted about 3 hours. An edited copy will be prepared and made available on the blog for you to listen to. You will also be able to comment on your concerns for Kevin and Jay to review on the blog post.
I would like to thank the guys from Drill Down, all the users who participated, Jay Adelson and Kevin Rose for having this conversation. Some important concerns were addressed and steps were taken to make Digg a better place for everyone.