Digg

The web's most popular social news community at the start of 2010 was Digg (http://digg.com). The site claims to support more than 40 million users, and the web traffic watchers at Alexa.com have ranked the Digg website among the world's 100 busiest. It was launched in 2004, reportedly as an experiment by its founders. That experiment took off, and now the Digg icon appears on just about every media website worthy of the name.

Digg is a general-interest social news site. The content recommended by its members covers a range of topics, including politics, entertainment, technology, and general news. Members can recommend different types of content, including text-based news items and blogs, but also images and videos.

“Democratizing Digital Media”

The Digg community calls what the site does “democratizing digital media,” which means that community members “participate in determining all site content by discovering, selecting, sharing, and discussing the news and videos that appeal to you.”

To make sure that even readers on the go can give a thumbs up or down to articles they pull up on their smart phones, Digg launched its first iPhone app in March 2010. iPhone users can digg or bury stories and add comments directly from the browser launched by the phone. The Digg iPhone app quickly shot to the top of the App Store “news” category. A few weeks later, Digg launched a similar application for the Android phone.

Anyone can read the stories collected on the Digg website, but you must be a registered member to recommend a story and participate in the voting. Signing up for membership is easy: You have to provide the usual username and password and your e-mail address, and a few personal details. Digg sends you a verifying e-mail; you respond, and you're in.

Digg is a community, so you'll be asked to build a profile. It's not as extensive as, say, a Facebook profile, and it's completely optional. You can also create a friends list of your e-mail contacts, just as you can on most social networking sites. And there are privacy settings that allow you to restrict who sees your personal details.

Finding Content

The news, images, and videos submitted to Digg are not published on the website, but links to those items are, along with user descriptions and comments. The most popular items appear in a list on the home page. Items that are new appear on the Upcoming Stories page.

Click on an item's title and Digg opens the page on which it was published. Digg adds the DiggBar across the top to provide you with the tools for voting, commenting, reading comments, finding related content, sharing, and linking to other social media.

Items are also organized into a number of groups and categories, including Technology, World & Business, Science, Gaming, Lifestyle, Entertainment, Sports, and Offbeat. You can also search for items classified as News, Videos, and Images.

Submitting

Once you've signed up, you'll be able to recommend news, images, videos, and other web content. When you click on the icon of the little guy with a shovel next to a Wall Street Journal story, you'll open a Digg form for submitting a link. The form comes prefilled with the story's title and, if one was available, a summary from the media site. If a description wasn't available, you can add your own using up to 248 characters. You also have to choose a topic heading from a drop-down list, and type in a security word. When you click “Submit,” Digg asks you to sign in; once you do, your story is sent to the Upcoming Stories list.

Dugg and Buried

Digg community members vote on the stories they like by clicking on digg buttons, which display a little thumbs-up icon. Each posted link displays that button, along with the number of diggs that story has received. Diggers can also give an item a thumbs-down by clicking on “Bury.” Items that receive more Diggs get promoted, and the items with the most Diggs appear on the Popular page. Items that receive few Diggs or a lot of buries eventually slip off the site completely.

You can also click on “Who Dug This” to find out who else gave the item a thumbs up, “comments” to read other members' thoughts on the item and to post your own, and “share” to e-mail the link to a friend, or to send it to Facebook or Twitter.

According to the Digg Help page, “The promotion or burying of stories is managed by an algorithm developed by Digg, and there is no specific threshold of Diggs or buries required to promote or bury a story. Instead, our algorithm takes several factors into consideration, including (but not limited to) the number and diversity of Diggs, buries, the time the story was submitted, and the topic.”

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