Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Digg Revolt...

For those of you unwired, Digg.com is a Web 2.0 site where ordinary users get to vote on which news stories they find the most interesting, and those are the stories that make the Digg headlines.

But an interesting thing happened last week. As described in this Wired article, Digg users revolted over new controls which Digg.com implemented in order to minimize spam and abuse. Apparently, the most devoted Digg users had developed a heavy influence over choosing which stories would make the main headlines - through promoting stories together and working as a bloc. In response, the company created new controls in the hopes of re-democratizing the news selection process.

So here's the central question: Which is the more democratic system - giving all users the ability to vote and contribute, though some who are more devoted and put in more time and effort will wield more influence, or ensuring that all users have a more equal influence in the selection process?

This is a question of governance that touches on far more than this narrow issue at Digg. The top Diggers are revolting over a decrease in their influence? So be it. That's hardly a negative development when viewed from a broader perspective. As any fledgling Web 2.0 contributor is aware, it is already extremely frustrating and difficult to get ranked in blog search engines and to get significant page hits, creating a serious disincentive for people to generate content and participate. Decentralizing the influence of any information elite is only going to lead to better services. The revolters ought to get off their power-hungry high high horse. Digg is doing the right thing.


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