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In 2004, a new kind of website launched. Its name was Digg, and it used the wisdom of crowds to source and promote interesting articles from around the Web. By 2008 Digg was such a huge hit that content creators actively tried to get their material linked to on the site in order to experience the huge increase in traffic, known as the Digg effect, that resulted. At this point in the story all was well.
By 2010 traffic had started to drop off, with new direct competitors such as Reddit, as well as social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, proving to be more popular. Then came Digg v4, which proved to be the killer blow for the site. It was buggier than it was bold, blighted rather than beautiful. And it started Digg’s long descent into obscurity.
Betaworks finally bought Digg for a reported $500,000 earlier this year, and the company has set about trying to relaunch the site as a new, contemporary social media site which better suits the needs of Web users in 2012 and beyond. Digg v4 was known as the “new Digg.” This isn’t the new Digg, this is the new new Digg, Digg v1, Digg built in and for 2012. And it’s surprisingly good.
The Digg homepage was once busy, crowded, and hard to navigate. It’s now clean, minimalist, and overly simple to use. The new Digg homepage is divided into three distinct sections (explained in detail after the next header). At the top are the stories that everyone should be reading, in the middle are stories finding an audience on Digg, and at the bottom are stories which are emerging from the mist.
Everything has been kept plain and simple, with a white background overlaid with black and gray text, the size of the font determined by which section the story is residing in. Gone are the numerous cumbersome categories, and in their place come large, lush images which make the new Digg look and feel more like Pinterest or a well-kept Tumblr.
The Top Stories are those which have already passed muster and are now being presented to the Web for appreciation. The topics and sources vary wildly, with politics and current affairs nudging up to science and technology. All presented with an image and a short description.
The Popular section deals with the stories making waves on Digg in the previous 18 hours. These are presented in order of how many Diggs, Facebook likes, and tweets the stories have gained. Each has a visual chart showing how its popularity has peaked and troughed during that time period.
The Upcoming section deals with the stories that are only just arriving on the homepage. Most of these will have zero Diggs, and have found their way on to the site thanks to a high number of social networking shares. The idea is to Digg the stories at this point to move them up the page.
Digging… And More Besides
The old Digg was all about the up-votes made on each story. The more you could garner for your submission, the higher up the story would rise in the ranking until it hit the front-page and the inevitable payday. While this was a nice idea, people aren’t always willing to play by the book and give each story a fair crack of the whip with an unbiased mindset. Digg got gamed, again and again. ‘You vote my story up and I’ll vote yours up in return’ was just the tip of the iceberg.
The new Digg no longer relies just on up-votes. They’re still there, thankfully, with each signed-in user able to Digg a story to add their voice to the weight of sentiment sorting the wheat from the chaff. But the new algorithm means that Facebook shares and tweets on Twitter also play a part in deciding which stories are worth promoting to the top of the pile. There are also moderators adding a human element to the whole process, which is pretty much essential to avoid certain groups controlling the flow of articles.
Save to Reading List is an extra feature that allows you to save any of the stories that appear on the homepage in a list to read later. As long as you’re signed in (using either Facebook or Twitter) you just hover over a story until the ‘Save’ option appears, and then click on it.
Share to Facebook or Twitter is a feature that shouldn’t need any explanation, but I’ll provide one just in case. As long as you’re signed in you just hover over a story until the ‘Share’ option appears, which you then click on to either Tweet this or Share to Facebook.
I really like the new new Digg, even though I approached it with a hint of trepidation and just a small measure of cynicism. It’s clean, uncluttered, and devoid of all the BS that blighted the old Digg for many years. It now delivers interesting content from around the Web thanks to a fine-tuned mix of moderation and voting.
There is certainly more to come from the new new Digg. This is clearly and cleverly labeled as Digg v1, and there will be changes made in the months and years to come, hopefully all of which end up improving the usability and usefulness of the site. But even now, just weeks after the relaunch, I’m finding myself visiting the site multiple times each day. Almost as though it’s 2008 all over again.
I Digg the new Digg, but do you? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.