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Digg Dug
July 12, 2012 7:20 PM   Subscribe

"Digg Inc., a social-media pioneer once valued at more than $160 million, is selling for the deeply discounted price of about $500,000."

A previous discussion of digg on metafilter regarding v. 4.0, which rolled out in 2010. Some speculate that the redesign was one variable that led to its drop in value.
posted by SpacemanStix (111 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
As far as dropping in value the censorship hullabaloo didn't help either.
posted by griphus at 7:24 PM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Jesus. That's still a load of money, but pocket change for a lot of people.

I think the real cost would be paying developers to fix it.
posted by dunkadunc at 7:30 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't be the only one who used to check Digg daily before the big reboot, and then have totally forgotten about it until today.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:31 PM on July 12, 2012 [52 favorites]


Meh, I don't think I ever used Digg even before the site redesigns. It sounds like a combination of the worst parts of Reddit and Yahoo News.

Is Digg like the MySpace of news aggregator type websites?
posted by AMSBoethius at 7:36 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I used to be a big Digg user back in the day, but after v4 rolled out I quickly stopped using it... hard to believe how much I was on it...
posted by theartandsound at 7:37 PM on July 12, 2012


Jesus. That's still a load of money, but pocket change for a lot of people.

In the context of buying a company, it's really not a load of money any way you slice it. It's less than it would cost you to open a McDonald's franchise.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 7:42 PM on July 12, 2012 [18 favorites]


> In the context of buying a company, it's really not a load of money any way you slice it. It's less than it would cost you to open a McDonald's franchise.

The difference is, you can convince a bank to give you a loan for a McDonald's franchise, because it will probably make money.
posted by mrzarquon at 7:48 PM on July 12, 2012 [21 favorites]


Wasn't Digg last seen buried under a bunch of tea partiers?
posted by Artw at 7:50 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wait a minute..are you telling me that a website was overvalued?

*faints*
posted by jonmc at 7:54 PM on July 12, 2012 [20 favorites]


I used to be on Digg constantly as my source for "what the internet is talking about", but after the relaunch I was gone within a couple weeks. It's shocking how quickly it went from good to useless.
posted by fishmasta at 7:55 PM on July 12, 2012 [8 favorites]


Wasn't Digg last seen buried under a bunch of tea partiers?

Yup, the Ron Paul coup of 2008 was when I stopped visiting.
posted by gsteff at 7:55 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Particularly painful since the people who put $45 million dollars were hoping to get back 5 to 20 fold what they put in. I'm sure they knew there was a high risk of losing everything, but to see all opportunity thrown away due to gross incompetence and neglect of the community must be pretty painful, as they jet around on their yachts while playing polo and asking Jeeves to pour more tea.
posted by Llama-Lime at 7:57 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ouch.

Having been a regular Digg user back in the day, it's a bit sad to see the site selling for such a pittance. They really did do it to themselves, though, especially with the last redesign which destroyed their user base. I was one of those who left almost immediately after the redesign, though I had already started to visit less frequently for a few months prior.
posted by asnider at 7:57 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


As Gruber put it, at least they got almost a thousand bucks per user.
posted by DoctorFedora at 7:59 PM on July 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


I watched it religiously for a couple of years, and then stopped watching it a couple of years ago. And today I have learned that Kevin Rose's internet show with Alex Albrecht Diggnation ceased production in January of this year.

For a while, it was a pretty hot show, but then it got old. (For me, anyway.)

I wonder how much else of the Revision 3 lineup has quit or changed since I stopped watching most of their lineup all the time.

(Is this what Internet Nostalgia is like? Just a couple of years pass and already it seems like ancient history?)
posted by hippybear at 8:02 PM on July 12, 2012


Kevin Rose gets my pick for most asinine CEO. Not only did he run his company into the ground he had the gall to blame his developers. The early days of twitter, reddit and even Metafilter proved that if you provide a compelling product users will stick by you through technical issues. Once digg was no longer compelling people jumped ship, Rose was dense enough to think it was because of technical issues.

Runner up is Justin Kan from Justin.tv. Dude had a programmer work, attend meetings, and give status updates for 6 months and never produce a line of code and never stopped to take a look at his management skills.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:02 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Where is your Ggid now?
posted by twoleftfeet at 8:04 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


The best part is goog then bought Rose's next company Milk, shut it down and laid off employees just to hire Rose. I suppose the 15m they paid for Milk was just like a bonus to Rose and a payoff for all the VC that were going to lose money when Milk failed.

What more can you expect from a guy who started Digg by pimping it on TechTV all the while never mentioning it was his own site.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:12 PM on July 12, 2012


When I heard that Digg was selling for $500,000 I seriously considered buying it. We were in the process of buying a house for about the same price. Digg seemed like a good fit for my family, because we consider ourselves to be a social network, but ultimately we decided that we needed a two-car garage, in case we get a second car.
posted by twoleftfeet at 8:20 PM on July 12, 2012 [66 favorites]


Ha, twoleftfeet, I had almost the exact same thought.
posted by unSane at 8:24 PM on July 12, 2012


Is there any public info on what Kevin Rose's salary was as Digg CEO? It's kind of amazing that he leveraged his minor TV exposure to launch Digg, enriched himself at a never very profitable company to the point where he could personally invest in a number of now successful ventures like Twitter and Square, missed a window of basically 3-5 years to sell Digg and the employees and investors that built the site and is not totally hated across the web and being sued left and right now.
posted by ejoey at 8:27 PM on July 12, 2012


Particularly painful since the people who put $45 million dollars were hoping to get back 5 to 20 fold what they put in.

People who "hope" for this sort of thing are suckers.
posted by Jimbob at 8:31 PM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


Huh, so did Rose ever write a manifesto like Surprised By Wealth, or does ESR still hold the all-time schadenfreude crown?
posted by indubitable at 8:32 PM on July 12, 2012 [9 favorites]


My LinkedIn search shows 173 former Digg employees pouring out their 40s tonight.
posted by ejoey at 8:34 PM on July 12, 2012


Digg simply no longer worked after the redesign. Not even kinda. Not even a little. I reluctantly gave it up.
posted by telstar at 8:35 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Particularly painful since the people who put $45 million dollars were hoping to get back 5 to 20 fold what they put in.

Well 3x is generally considered a pretty good outcome, but in the era of Bain Capital it is worth pointing out that there are many more bets like these in the private equity market than those where the scoundrels walk off will billions.
posted by three blind mice at 8:37 PM on July 12, 2012


I never really used digg before it "officially" started to suck, but I can't stop thinking this might be, at least in part, a product of the late 2000s tech bubble that seems to be wrapping up.
posted by deathpanels at 8:37 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: the Digg it's OK to like.
posted by SPrintF at 8:38 PM on July 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahaaha.

But even $160 million is less than what I figured it would be valued even the internet seems to value Facebook at $billions.

People obviously learnt nothing from the 2000s.
posted by Mezentian at 8:39 PM on July 12, 2012


Huh, so did Rose ever write a manifesto like Surprised By Wealth, or does ESR still hold the all-time schadenfreude crown

What a jackass. After the first day pop he was all like "I'm a kabillionaire, fuck y'all". I'm glad that ESR has been pretty much completely discredited by now.

maybe I should go watch some Rockford Files or something, It seems like I had an extra glass of haterade this morning
posted by Ad hominem at 8:42 PM on July 12, 2012


I was also a daily Digg user. The reboot was a disaster -- all your points, saved messages, etc., gone forever. Metafilter and Reddit are not so different from what Digg was; imagine if you woke up tomorrow and all the posts on Metafilter for the past 10+ years were just gone, irretrievable. Furthermore, the new posts were of the most inane sort, links to the newest pop song or links back to CNN. Sure, life goes on, and nothing on the internet is permanent, but what would be the point of hanging around any longer?

Perhaps Digg was doomed without the redesign, but what could they have been thinking by destroying all connections to the past? How could any social site survive that decision?
posted by Palquito at 8:44 PM on July 12, 2012 [9 favorites]


On reflection (sorry about the auto-snark, above), has Matt ever "valued" MetaFilter? Of course, you and I and everypony here thinks this is five bucks well-spent. But happy Matt and brave Cortex and the beloved Jessamyn probably won't live forever (barring the Singularity).

How can one put a price on this lovely place? (Yeah, yeah... same as in town.)
posted by SPrintF at 8:46 PM on July 12, 2012


Every once in a while something like this happens and I remember that Slashdot is still around.
posted by jcreigh at 8:48 PM on July 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'd like to be more nuanced about this, but fuck Digg. In the space of just a few months, they utterly betrayed their userbase in a way that's difficult to imagine for a company so dependent on user-driven content, and destroyed themselves in the process.

The three big strikes:

1) They refused to deal with gamesmanship. As detailed in this thread and my comment, Digg by 2010 was rife with politically-motivated cheating of the voting system that reached all the way to the site's highly-trafficked front page. An organized group was using dummy accounts, voting rings, secret third-party discussion boards, and petty, slanderous tactics to control what stories were and were not seen by the site's millions of readers. This affected not just the political news side, but the science, "hard" news, and popular culture sections, with many sites with "undesirable" viewpoints being de-facto blacklisted.

When the truth about what was going on came to light, there was a huge uproar -- the article explaining it all was one of the most heavily upvoted in the history of the site. And the admins did *absolutely nothing*. Even with clear, unambiguous evidence of a literal cabal of cheaters abusing and manipulating the community, not a single person was banned.

One could argue they were distracted from the issue since just a few weeks later...

2) They forced a terrible redesign. Bar-none, one of the worst I've ever seen on the web. It was not only slow, buggy, and filled with obnoxious design changes, but it also broke the site's core mechanic, replacing publically-curated "leaderboards" of news with a black-box format of story promotion that heavily favored the automated news streams of corporate partners and "power users" with hundreds of "friends" (tit-for-tat voting networks, often paid for by site owners looking for eyeballs).

That the redesign launched despite garnering negative reviews in the beta stage was insulting enough, but it pales in comparison to the fact that...

3) They deleted the site's past. The biggest anti-community crime, in my book. In the course of the redesign, they unexpectedly, irreversibly, and without warning deleted everything in the site's archives prior to ~June 2010. Every discussion thread, every vote, every comment, even each user's personal list of favorite links was tossed into the memory hole. For a site with a large and active community dating back to 2004, this is unforgivable. Not only did they eradicate everything the community contributed collectively for years and years -- reactions to historic events, epic pun threads, lengthy debates, useful collections of information -- but they erased a large portion of the internet histories of hundreds of thousands of their own users. As an active and vocal member since 2006, there is a significant portion of my online life there that is simply no longer available. It's like they took my high school journal and threw it in an incinerator. It's especially infuriating since there were tools available at the time to easily back up all that content, had there ever been any suggestion that it was in danger of being irretrievably lost. But they never said anything about it, or even apologized for it, and repeatedly lied saying the lost content would be restored soon.

I'm glad their numbers flatlined so quickly after all this happened -- they deserve every sneering headline they get for this insulting, multi-pronged fiasco of their own making. Good riddance.
posted by Rhaomi at 8:50 PM on July 12, 2012 [102 favorites]


What's funny about all this is people reminiscing about Digg like it was the first news aggregator site. Does no one remember slashdot?

Despite the big Digg screw-up Kevin Rose has been doing mighty fine for himself. He left Digg last year and has invested in a few successful companies and is now working at Google.
posted by cheezr at 8:52 PM on July 12, 2012


I think stories like these are a great reminder that this is what most web platforms end up like being. The amazing thing isn't, say, that google paid a billion for YouTube, but rather that it still might be worth a billion today - much more of an achievement than I think I initially realised.

It seems - particularly sites with core functionality that don't depend on a critical mass or exclusive hook - that you do seem to have a window for maximising. Take heed, Redditt.
posted by smoke at 8:56 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, they lost the war, so it was to be expected.
posted by cashman at 8:58 PM on July 12, 2012 [8 favorites]


And memepool.com goes on...
posted by joecacti at 9:04 PM on July 12, 2012 [11 favorites]


.
posted by Plug1 at 9:10 PM on July 12, 2012


And memepool.com goes on...

My god, they started updating again.Everything2,Kuro5hin, and even Advogato are still around. Linkfilter.net is dead.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:10 PM on July 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


The one good memory I will take from Digg was from 2008, when Ron Paul ended up in fourth place in the New Hampshire primary. That was supposed to be his big chance to win. The pile-on was hilarious and cathartic for those of us who were sick of the constant Paulite posts.
posted by azpenguin at 9:13 PM on July 12, 2012


I just logged on to my Digg account after years of not using it, and I realized it predates my MetaFilter account by a few months (April 2005 vs July 2005). How shameful. I can certainly remember the Digg of 2005 and it looked absolutely nothing like the Digg of the last few years. It was just a low-key site where you could find interesting stuff to read and deals on gear. Then they rolled out the "v2" Digg, the first of many redesigns, and that's when it started getting big and annoying and circlejerky and I stopped visiting.
posted by Rhomboid at 9:18 PM on July 12, 2012


Hmm. Seems like the full price was 16m with LinkedIn getting the patents. WaPo getting the team (didn't they just hire Rob Malda to do online strategy) and the domain name, code and DB going for 500k.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:48 PM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


I was wondering if someone would remember the Digg Patriots scandal. Yeah, that was the thing that soured me on Digg.
posted by JHarris at 10:02 PM on July 12, 2012


Ad hominem: But Plastic is gone, and kuro5hin seems to be a dungheap. Slashdot is still alive, but CmdrTaco's left.

Of course, one site will outlive all of us.
posted by JHarris at 10:05 PM on July 12, 2012 [17 favorites]


I just logged on to my Digg account after years of not using it, and I realized it predates my MetaFilter account by a few months (April 2005 vs July 2005). How shameful.

It's not that shameful -- if I remember correctly, that was about when mathowie reopened signups with the $5 requirement. I remember that quite keenly; my own account was opened in March 2005.
posted by JHarris at 10:10 PM on July 12, 2012


JHarris: "Of course, one site will outlive all of us."

Sad thing #1: I knew what site you were going to mention before I moused over the link.

Sad thing #2: It was the "visited link" color.
posted by Night_owl at 10:16 PM on July 12, 2012 [32 favorites]


and kuro5hin seems to be a dungheap

It does seem to have ....changed a bit. I think Rusty had stopped doing much with it when he started working for,or with, DailyKos. He and CmdrTaco are both mefi's own so maybe Taco can drop some info on what he is going to do with the Digg team and Rusty can tell us wtf happened to Kuro5hin.

Linkfilter.net became the basis for blip.tv, I believe blip.tv was based on the Linkfilter.net code base, but don't hold me to that.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:18 PM on July 12, 2012


Zombo needs to go HTML5 already.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:34 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


has Matt ever "valued" MetaFilter?

Seems like $3-5 per unique visitor and maybe $20 per active member might be reasonable based on this very old pre-crash article. I put the over under at $5M. Is that way off? But it would seem like any attempt to commercialize Metafilter significantly would be suicide.
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:36 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


HTML5 Zombo.com
posted by JHarris at 10:42 PM on July 12, 2012 [13 favorites]


But it would seem like any attempt to commercialize Metafilter significantly would be suicide.

Try the professional white background. It *screeaaaams* money.
posted by mph at 10:46 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


In the course of the redesign, they unexpectedly, irreversibly, and without warning deleted everything in the site's archives prior to ~June 2010.

I was curious if some kind of Kickstarter could pick up the site for a song and go back to old backups or something, but we're sure this is impossible?
posted by Evilspork at 10:47 PM on July 12, 2012


Anyway, Reddit now is pretty much what Digg was in its heyday. Collapse is inevitable.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:52 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Digg, MetaFilter, Reddit, Kuro5bennyHinn... I seriously wonder what the future is of all these sites (not to mention the traditional vBulletin type forums) with the rumbling black hole of Facebook and Twitter out there, gradually sucking up the lion's share of Internet users. Is MetaFilter destined to die or get folded into Facebook come 2015-2016?

But yeah, I was one of those who jumped the Digg ship, except it was shortly before the Digg 4.0 meltdown. I was already pissed off about the MrBabyMan submitters taking over the content, and I myself never made the front page once. Also, each story seemed to precipitate an ocean of 2000 comments... what's the point in getting lost in all that? (same reason I never bothered with Slashdot). MetaFilter is relatively small and more organic. With Reddit, I managed to get a front page post on my very first try, and it's fractioned into all kinds of neat subreddits so I can see stuff going on in my hometown.
posted by crapmatic at 11:05 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


All due respect to the people who had a sense of community there, but it's another unpleasant memory for me: Some other editor in my group had some luck with a Linux desktop troll or an anti-Windows screed and goosed his numbers for a week, so we were all told to go make accounts and start Digging for views. Because nobody's more self-conscious than a middle aged editorial dweeb trying to glue on a soul patch or clip on a ponytail and strike the insouciant pose of a 25-year-old man-boy addled on Red Bull and upvotes, we were told we really shouldn't use our work identities to, you know, keep it real.

One of the reasons I got pretty good at talking to the Google Analytics API was just so I could run big, historic multi-domain reports to establish once and for all that Digg eyeballs were sort of worthless to people hoping to pick up a sponsorship from Juniper or Cisco. The business part of it was secondary -- I was mostly tired of the humiliation of begging for eyeballs from that demographic and wanted an excuse to stop. Which I found, along with an ability to program I didn't know I had. So maybe Digg's a pleasant memory in a kind of "white people always make everybody else their key to self actualization in their racist narratives" sort of way.

Sweet Jesus I'm glad I don't have to go around begging for eyeballs anymore.
posted by mph at 11:23 PM on July 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


(not to mention the traditional vBulletin type forums)

Heh. Always amuses me how forums, despite their continued huge popularity and lengthy pedigree, are completely invisible and ignored by all the Social Media Web Two Point Oh "experts". There will always be niches on the web. I firmly believe this. That's what I keep telling myself, anyway.
posted by Jimbob at 11:25 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ooh! Digg's hiring!
posted by Pronoiac at 11:35 PM on July 12, 2012


There is a lot of content locked into nooks and crannies around the internet, like those crazy forums where guys twlk about building miniature construction equipment. It is wierd that there is an entire industry of aggregation sites, where we sometimes comment about sites that already have a comment system in place. In the tech world we refer to these as silos. They are really like tidal pools where strange new life forms flourish. Every once in a while they pop up on an aggregator site, but are usually forgotten about just as quickly as they are found.

There needs to be a FidoNet for the web, something a bit more modern than usenet (just a bit no top heavy federation standards like Wave). Just a PubSub fanout for comments, it can be pull passed or push based using web callbacks. Use JSON for everything. The issue is discovery, I suggest we hack that onto twitter send out push or pull requests in a total ad hoc manner. Metafilter gets a new post? Send an encoded announcement via twitter, anyone interested can use the REST API to pull the post and content. Want to subscribe to Metafilter? Send a subscription request with a REST callback URL to twitter, metafilter sees this and adds you to the list of sites that get push content.

Should be pretty quick to get done now that I've done all the hard work. Perhaps Rob Malda can get his new team at WaPo on it.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:38 PM on July 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


Yeah, but what would you call it?
posted by fullerine at 12:12 AM on July 13, 2012


I'm calling it The Metanet. I think the first goal would be to be able to have books in minecraft that contain the up to date content from a website.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:18 AM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Always hated Digg, but I read it anyway because sometimes something interesting would bubble to the top [1]. After the redesign it just wasn't worth my time. For awhile it was like a smoker trying to quit: I'd reflexively type the address in the location bar before my brain said "No, don't go there!"

Slashdot still works fine for me and what I want it for. Long time user (late 90s). Even read the comments occasionally. Thankfully, many of the worst users went to Digg and/or Reddit. I guess there's that to be thankful for.

1. Although, there was a period where every other article was either about HTML5 or CSS.
posted by sbutler at 12:31 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Rhaomi's comment pretty much nailed my exact reaction. I was never that heavy a Digg user, but I did visit it daily for awhile, kind of like I use Reddit now. I was mostly a read-only user there.

I didn't have the kind of investment that Rhaomi did, so I doubt I was nearly as angry, but between the Tea Party cabal and the site redesign, I completely rejected the place. They screwed over their entire community so hard. They obviously didn't value the investment and the content that had been generated by their users. I'm second-guessing, of course, but I think they actually thought Digg was popular and full of value because of the team that set up the web site initially, and maintained it every day. It's like saying that a sports team is valuable because of the stadium it's in. They seemed to lack understanding of what made it popular, and what made it valuable, and completely destroyed those things in favor of selling links to corporate advertisers. It was obviously a place that was no longer for my benefit, and I left within hours of realizing what had happened. I remember visiting only once since, just out of schadenfreude, expecting a disaster. I wasn't disappointed at the time, and I'm even less disappointed now.

As far as I'm concerned, it's great news, because Rose absolutely screwed over his user base, and I'm happy indeed to see that the site has lost almost all its financial value, because it lost all its USE value long ago.

Reddit is similar in a lot of ways... post Digg, there was a huge influx of, well, kind of stupid users, and that changed Reddit basically permanently. The front page started degrading immediately after the Digg collapse, and it's been getting worse ever since. I gather you can find sub-Reddits that are still pretty great, but on the whole, there's sort of a long, slow decline there too, and it reminds me a lot of Digg shortly before the relaunch.

But, for what it's worth, the Reddit admins do seem to realize what's actually important, and by and large seem to be doing a fairly good job. While the front page content has gotten mediocre, there are still gems to be found, and there's no sign of another impending userpocalypse.

This is a good lesson in just how fast you can evaporate yourself on the Web -- you're not building a real physical thing with real physical value. You're building a community, and while those have value and can be amazingly resilient through technical issues, active abuse will alienate them, and destroy your site incredibly quickly.
posted by Malor at 12:33 AM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think they actually thought Digg was popular and full of value because of the team that set up the web site initially, and maintained it every day. It's like saying that a sports team is valuable because of the stadium it's in. They seemed to lack understanding of what made it popular, and what made it valuable, and completely destroyed those things in favor of selling links to corporate advertisers.

I was part of a site that did much the same thing albeit on a much smaller scale about ten years ago. We spent a couple or three years slow-building a functional community that was finally starting to click and then suddenly the corporate types up top imposed a bunch of "fixes" that killed everything pretty damned quickly. Their justification, of course, was money. The site was in the red, though slowly crawling out, but not quick enough for the investors etc. So a bunch of bone-headed decisions got made (masquerading, of course, as good business) ... and so on.

What I hate about what's happened to Digg is the degree to which a whole lotta folks that constituted its user base have basically ended up with nothing for all the effort (and passion) they put in to help to build the community. What I love about it is what it says about imposing corporate concerns (and affiliations) on an organic online community. It's a losers game.
posted by philip-random at 1:00 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I used to look at it every day, as it was good for finding stories that were coming up from nowhere. But... we've got Twitter for that now.

Classic case of a site failing to move with the times, or getting out-manoeuvred by everything else that was happening.

Plus all that Rhaomi said.
posted by DanCall at 1:13 AM on July 13, 2012


They are really like tidal pools where strange new life forms flourish. Every once in a while they pop up on an aggregator site, but are usually forgotten about just as quickly as they are found.

There needs to be a FidoNet for the web
counterpoint: there needs to be a way to make sites wherein content cannot be linked from outside
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 1:43 AM on July 13, 2012


homogeneity is hungry as shit and the language barriers can't hold forever
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 1:45 AM on July 13, 2012


Rhaomi got it completely right. That is when I jumped ship.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 2:05 AM on July 13, 2012


All monetary issues aside, I hope, and firmly believe, that this website will never go this direction.
posted by 7segment at 2:16 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


What I don't understand about the Digg redesign fiasco is how anyone could have possibly thought the redesign was going to work. I mean it's really hard for me to think of anything more likely to lead to a massive loss of users, and no amount of increase ad exposure on the frontpage is going to pay off if there's no-one left to look at the ads.
posted by Proofs and Refutations at 2:35 AM on July 13, 2012


All monetary issues aside, I hope, and firmly believe, that this website will never go this direction.

Of course it won't. Because it's a website, a community. Not a "startup". Not an "investment opportunity". Not something developed to establish class-leading synergistic integration with vertical marketing partners or whatever.
posted by Jimbob at 2:36 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was curious if some kind of Kickstarter could pick up the site for a song and go back to old backups or something, but we're sure this is impossible?

Some method for allowing "user buy outs" of troubled social media sites before they get put into a fire sale would be a good idea. As per the link adhominem posted above it seems like Digg was able to raise about $16 million by selling everything individually. If we can accept this citation of Digg having 1.2 million users then that is about $13 per member. Perhaps if $20 per user could have been raised there would have been enough save the site, restore the lost data, revert to a better design, throw out some of the technology as open source and continue as a non-profit (and save some people's jobs).

This would be contractually and politically tricky to arrange and execute - but not impossible. It reminds me of the "Community Right to Buy" law that exists in Scotland: if a piece of land comes up for sale around a village then the inhabitants can register an interest in buying it and do so in advance of appearing on the open market. The same kind of community right to buy could be included in the Ts and Cs of social media sites.
posted by rongorongo at 2:46 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ad hominem: you might be looking for Salmon. I haven't investigated it at all, though.
posted by Leon at 3:40 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Heh, in Rhaomi's original post about the 4.0 changes, I left this comment:

It strikes me that this largely solves the problem of participation by users, period. Pesky users.

I've never been much of a Digg user, but it was a good timewaster sometimes. Now I know it's worthless by design, instead of just by accident.


And now it's worthless in the actual sense of the term, not merely as a synonym for useless. Well, okay, not quite worthless, but it's lost a gigantic amount of real, cash value.

This is my schadenfreude face.
posted by Malor at 4:06 AM on July 13, 2012


If it wasn't for Digg horrible 4.0 upgrade, I wouldn't have reddit as quickly.
posted by KaizenSoze at 4:11 AM on July 13, 2012


IMO, Powacek nails it... "What If Social Networks Just Aren’t Profitable?"
The bigger you go, the harder the road. Meanwhile, small, focused, and yes, exclusionary community sites flourish. Matt Haughey made several key decisions in the formation of MetaFilter, but the most important one was to limit growth.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:48 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


kuro5hin was my home page for a long time and I really miss it. It was pretty unique in rewarding the production of longer articles and essays with wide distribution. By comparison most of the sites that are popular today are about links or quick comments.

What happened to it? For a couple of years some of us tried to warn Rusty that the moderation system was failing and needed to be made more robust. Rusty seemed to regard the site as some kind of social experiment on the self moderation system, and there never was enough human attention to it.

There was always a bit of a wild west attitude toward the comments, with the idea that the moderation system would sort things out. Sometimes it didn't; there was a cabal of self-regarding artistes de trollery who specialized in vicious personal attacks on anybody who seemed to be too prolific or popular and nothing much was ever done about them, and they drove away some of the early quality article writers.

One day one of the trolls discovered that the search function could be abused to cripple the site, so Rusty had to disabled the search to keep the site up. This made it much harder to go back and see if anyone had responded to your comments, severely limiting the usefulness of the comment sections and the depth of the resulting conversations. This caused users to start bleeding away and, as with complaints about abuses of the moderation and article voting system, Rusty went literally years without doing anything about it.

Finally, one day one of the trolls photoshopped the face of Rusty's wife onto a pornographic picture and posted it all over the place, and Rusty finally flipped and closed new registrations and banned a bunch of people. Then he decided to go with some weird recommendation system for new users, which we all told him wouldn't work, and finally he put a MeFi like $5 paywall up, figuring (mostly correctly) that trolls would be too cheap to pay to replace their banned accounts.

The problem is that by this time most of the users who went to the trouble to generate the articles that had given the site its reputation had given up and left. The low remaining userbase made it necessary to lower the voting threshold so anything could clear the article queue, which made it easier for the remaining trolls to game. I gave up the day some asswipe used a voting robot to prevent me from posting an article and it took over a week for a human moderator to get around to noticing.

So now instead of guarding a vibrant community the much too late $5 paywall guards a mostly empty space which can't repopulate because of the very same wall. And that, basically, is why kuro5hin looks the way it does today.
posted by localroger at 5:39 AM on July 13, 2012 [16 favorites]


Metafilter: my source for "what the internet is talking about"
posted by Fizz at 6:01 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


imagine if you woke up tomorrow and all the posts on Metafilter for the past 10+ years were just gone, irretrievable.

The Guardian did this to Guardian Talk and I haven't bought the paper since, despite being a reader since I was thirteen. There were marriages, babies and sadly a couple of funerals over its lifespan, and it was all gone.
posted by mippy at 6:05 AM on July 13, 2012


Zombo needs to go HTML5 already.

'zombo' is what I call zombies when I'm shooting them in games. 'Come on zombos, out you come...'
posted by mippy at 6:11 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wasn't Digg the big push for the "25 craziest bloopers", "30 best things about the new Iphone", "50 cool tools for getting things done" style of clickbaiting headlines that has dominated blogging (and sad to say, spread to online journalism) the recent years?
posted by mr.marx at 6:17 AM on July 13, 2012


$500,000 doesn't even cover the monthly burn rate for an internet startup. Ow.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 6:52 AM on July 13, 2012


I reckon we should have a whipround. I've just checked my wallet and there's an expired McDonalds coupon and a Tigercats badge, who wants to join me?
posted by mippy at 6:54 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]




Heh. People are idiots.
posted by Artw at 7:18 AM on July 13, 2012


Well, but the way that price breaks down is that they paid $12 million for the team, someone else paid about $3.5 million for some patents, and then the site itself was only valued at $500k.

So I think all our comments about the rapid destruction of one of the major hubs of the Internet still apply.
posted by Malor at 7:37 AM on July 13, 2012


Let's take a moment to appreciate Matt for his decision to keep it personal. He could have done the same things as K5, Digg, etc, but chose not to cash out, go big, etc.
posted by tippiedog at 7:37 AM on July 13, 2012 [15 favorites]


Lets have a toast for the Mathows. Let's have a toast to the Jessmyns. Let's have a toast for the Cortex, every one of them that Taz know. Let's have a toast for the Nomads...that'll never let us go mad. Baby I got a plan. Post away fast as you can.
posted by cashman at 7:42 AM on July 13, 2012 [8 favorites]


@localroger

I would say it's not so much the moderation as the people doing it; you can have literally all the authority you wish and if the people are bad, it will be the same as if one of these cabals you talk about took over.

And I have misgivings about the whole "people who spend money are better than those who don't" paradigm, which has always to me carried a nasty undertone of classism.

Individual identity and reputation online seems to create more problems than it's solved.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 7:50 AM on July 13, 2012


I joined K5 in 99 or 2000 but was mostly a lurker who voted. I miss reading your articles on K5, localroger. They were one of the few reasons that I stuck around for as long as I did.

Didn't you write a short story intro with the premise that there was a fixed amount of happiness in the world? There was a regular guy who was recruited as an agent who had to maintain that balance by making some people miserable in little ways to give a little happiness to others who needed it. I loved that story and still very much want to read the rest of it.

Even at that point K5 was fucked up. Almost every comment was about rusty waxing his yacht or polishing his monocle. It was a cute joke the first time I read it but thousands of repetitions pretty much killed it. Rusty created a great thing but then he disappeared and left the trolls to run amok. The site got slightly worse each day. It might have been better if he had pulled the plug.

I left for good after the photoshop incident and rusty's response. I felt sorry for him. He created a great site but then the trolls took over, yanking his chain hard enough to break his neck in the process.

About a year ago, I tried to log in but had forgotten my password. It didn't matter. It was like visiting the ruins of a playground in a bombed city. It was a good thing when it was good but it was time to walk away and not look back.
posted by double block and bleed at 7:57 AM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


And I have misgivings about the whole "people who spend money are better than those who don't" paradigm, which has always to me carried a nasty undertone of classism.

But Metafilter is a pretty good indication that this can work pretty well. It's not the amount so much, it's that having a pay barrier of any kind means that people have to actually think about whether or not they want to contribute, and they now have something real to lose if they misbehave. I think probably almost any First Worlder could afford $5 for a MeFi account, and if if they're in such dire shape that they can't afford even that, then mathowie et al have been known to give away freebies to people who ask politely.

If it was, say, fifty dollars for a MeFi account, then I think classism would be a fair criticism, but it doesn't seem reasonable at five.

Ooh, I almost hit post, but then I remembered this: they've had much better luck with selling mosquito nets in Africa than in giving them away. They're priced absurdly low, far below the cost of production, but actually having a price means that people think about the purchase, take care of their nets, and use them more carefully. They choose to bring the net into their life, and they give up something to get it, rather than having it handed to them off a truck. And this turns out to be very important.

I wouldn't call that classism... rather, it's a subtle but strong indicator that this thing has value. And I think that applies to MeFi accounts every bit as much as mosquito nets.
posted by Malor at 8:03 AM on July 13, 2012 [15 favorites]


Am I really the only one?

.

Digg, you were my first inroad into the internet and, even though we have been apart for 5 years, I will always love you.
posted by Buckt at 8:07 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


@Malor

I hope all of that money goes back into the countries it's taken from, because if not, that anecdote is really kind of uncomfortable, man.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 8:08 AM on July 13, 2012


I think the money goes back into making more nets. It's not a for-profit thing at all -- they price them way, way under the cost of production. But having a price means that people treat them carefully and actually use them, where if you just hand them out for free, they get ignored, misused, or repurposed. I seem to recall that many were being used to fish with, and they'd last maybe a couple weeks being used that way. But it didn't matter, because nets were free, and they'd just go get more.

By putting a tiny price on it, people usually use them for what they're actually intended for, because that's how they get the most value out of their purchase. They paid for it, so they want it to last, and using it as an actual mosquito net is the best way to keep it serviceable for as long as possible. Symbolism matters.

I think the price on MeFi accounts works similarly. It doesn't shut people out... essentially anyone who wants to be a member can afford to be. But, because they paid a little bit to get in, they treat their accounts better.
posted by Malor at 8:20 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


The other part of the $5 wall is that troll would have to use Paypal to get an account. That does a lot to break the illusion of anonymity that a troll needs to do his evil deeds. Matt knows your real name. Hell, he could theoretically show up at your house and tell your mom! A real troll is too much of a coward to take such a risk.

I never got into Digg. It was like the worst parts of Slashdot with none of its redeeming features.

Corporate-types don't realize that the user's view of the web is the ultimate palimpsest. No matter how much money they dump in, users will walk away to The Next Big Thing when they get bored unless a site is very well-managed.

Fortunately, Matt and Company are on the ball.
posted by double block and bleed at 8:25 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Digg sold for $16 million, not $500K.
Their patents and team sold for $16 million. The site and the remaining users was still only $500K.
posted by Talez at 8:29 AM on July 13, 2012


Double Block and Bleed, that story was The Happiness Broker. I wrote a sequel called The Powers that Abide; Google site:kuro5hin.org should bring them right up. I had been thinking of writing a third story wherein the truly unlikable protagonist gets his comeuppance but I decided to do Revelation Passage first and the votebot killed it.

I keep meaning to start mirroring my old stuff at localroger.com but I'm not sure how much benefit there would be, and stuff to do etc.

This, of course, alludes to you you're quite right about the quality of human moderation, but that only becomes an issue once you realize the self-moderation isn't cutting it and at least try something else.
posted by localroger at 8:36 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I also miss the days of Kuro5hin. The articles were interesting, the fiction was often fantastic (thanks localroger!), and the comments could often times be very insightful. It started off feeling like a community.

Two things kind of killed it for me. The first was the departure of a bunch of people to Husi. That should have been Rusty's first sign that something was wrong, and the tone of the site was never the same afterwards. But the bigger problem was that the trolls were just incredibly annoying, and I finally gave up when Tex Bigballs started looking like the reasonable one in a conversation.

That said, the dark side of me kind of misses Adequacy. And now that I think about it, didn't the influx of trolls on Kuro5hin begin about the same time Adequacy stopped producing new content? Somewhere in my brain I recall that there was rumor of coordinated troll interest in using Kuro5hin as the foundation for the next Adequacy.
posted by fremen at 10:13 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


"counterpoint: there needs to be a way to make sites wherein content cannot be linked from outside"

A lot of sites (music and photography) do this with flash and I hate it.
posted by klangklangston at 10:29 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


That said, the dark side of me kind of misses Adequacy.

Adequacy worked for a few reasons that made it strikingly different from K5.

Adequacy knew what it was for without ambiguity. Rusty wanted to foster the arts but he wanted to let the trolls run free in the name of free speech or testing the invisible hand of the self-moderation system at the same time.

Adequacy was ruthlessly moderated; whenever anyone would leave a comment ruining the joke a human being made gone and fast. Ironically, that made for a pretty smooth discussion if you were in on the joke. Adequacy trolls didn't have to be abusive to their marks; they just left bait and let the marks make themselves look like idiots.

Finally, if it looked like you were in on the joke and playing along the Adequacks would roll with you. I had a couple of fun discussions there. Some of the trolls at kuro5hin simply seemed intent on destroying or discouraging anything they personally considered unworthy, and it didn't matter if you tried to meet them half way and they had no sense of proportion as to tactics.

Finally there were a few people being allowed to run around there who were genuinely, without reservation, cruel. The 'shop of Rusty's wife, an innocent bystander who personally had nothing to do with the site, was an example, but so was the dick who thought it was funny to pull a passage from my novel out of context and post all over the tubes that I'm a pedophile. Because, you know, even though I'm not all that shy about my real sexual paraphilia that doesn't have so many amusing real world consequences.

I think there was a point around 2008 when K5 could have been saved with a minimum of effort by imposing and even weakly enforcing some standards. But the attitude that "moderation is censorship and therefore bad" prevailed until it had gone from the Wild West to Lord of the Flies, and there wasn't much left to save.
posted by localroger at 11:11 AM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Digg, reddit, and the like have shown that such voting systems are just the worst way possible to organize such a community. They invite gaming and trolling. The one good thing about the Ron Paul hordes is that they've served to show, along with trolls, how open these systems are to manipulation by small, dedicated groups.

On another note, one thing MetaFilter did really right in its pre-paywall days was having arbitrary, periodic sign-up windows. This avoided the problem of "Eternal September"; new users learned the site etiquette and culture, trolls were recognized and expelled. It kept community quality high until the paywall took over the same function.
posted by Sangermaine at 11:36 AM on July 13, 2012




I have to disagree Sangermaine about the arbitrary sign-up windows because I always missed them, to the point where I got bitter. It was years after I first found the site before I could join. I probably would have drifted away it hadn't reopened public signups.
posted by JHarris at 12:57 PM on July 13, 2012


Sangermaine: "Digg, reddit, and the like have shown that such voting systems are just the worst way possible to organize such a community. They invite gaming and trolling. The one good thing about the Ron Paul hordes is that they've served to show, along with trolls, how open these systems are to manipulation by small, dedicated groups."

I beg to differ, yes Reddit if used improperly can look to be riddled with trolls and memes, but if you know how to use it's awesome.
posted by zouhair at 1:06 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


It seems more like $16M.
posted by zouhair at 1:08 PM on July 13, 2012


zouhair: Further up in the thread people have dissected that number; the bulk of the $16M is the team, not the site itself. The site was reduced to a mere $500k.

Personally, I think $16M for the development team seems pretty ridiculous -- "from the development team who brought you the redesigned Digg" ought to be up there with "from the naval architects who designed the Titanic" -- but even with that ignored, it's not flattering that a bunch of employment contracts are the most valuable part of the business.


Re the difference between Digg and K5, I think both sites can be unequivocally said to have failed by now, with the same proximate cause, alienating and driving away their community, but the ultimate cause was very different.

Digg crashed and burned for pretty typical reasons: the original owners saw dollar signs and started chasing them, to the detriment of the community. The community realized that they were the product being sold, got offended at the rough handling and general contemptuous treatment, and in large part left for other places. Reddit, mostly, which has a site mechanic pretty similar to Digg but without the obnoxiously gold-digging management. (They may be monocle-polishing bullion-diving capitalists for all I know, but if they are they seem to do a good job resisting the urge to be dicks about it.)

K5 was ... different. You can say a lot of things about Rusty, but he never seemed to be running K5 for money. Quite the opposite: I think someone who had been slightly more interested in preserving the site's value (in terms of advertising clicks or unique visitors or whatever) probably would have been more aggressive in taking care of some of K5's worst problems before they became deal-breakers for so many users. But Rusty seemed to be more interested in the social-experiment side of the site than in the "lets make interesting stuff and share it" part or even the "lets build a community" part, at least from where I was standing. Certainly that's his right, since he ran the place, but it always struck me as a bit disappointing.

Perhaps that's just because I never found the 'social experiment' of algorithmic self-moderation combined with a laissez faire attitude towards trolling all that interesting, and it didn't really surprise me that it worked, to put it nicely, suboptimally. But I guess it's a good example of how hard-line libertarianism fails to scale just as messily online as offline. There was a lot of creative potential in the site, and it's unfortunate, IMO, that nobody was willing or able to slap around a few of the worst of the misbehaving trolls before they stomped all over everyone's sand castles.

Maybe it's just hindsight talking, because now it seems pretty stupid, or at least pretty naive, to resist imposing your will on an online community just because you want to let it grow organically, or something like that. We know what sort of community the Internet spawns in the absence of all moderation, it's called 4chan.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:54 PM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


localroger: "...that story was The Happiness Broker. I wrote a sequel called The Powers that Abide...

I'm really glad to hear that. I can't wait to read it tonight.

The lead story on K5 right now is called Cruising for Gay Sex at Voxel.net. Sigh.

At least on 4chan everyone is nominally anonymous and it's clear to everyone that it was designed from the start to be insane. It's kids showing off for each other in a game of gross-out. K5 was a fantastic site for intelligent adults that slowly got clogged up by the feces of a small clique of assholes.

I know that free speech is important to rusty but I would have killed the whole thing by now. Just because the KKK has the right to express their views doesn't mean that you have to invite them onto your front yard and buy the wood and gasoline for them.
posted by double block and bleed at 3:31 PM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I know that free speech is important to rusty but I would have killed the whole thing by now.

A couple of data points...

Around the last Presidential election my wife laid plans for us to visit Maine on vacation, and after asking if it was OK with him we arranged a side trip to spend a couple of evenings at a B&B on Peaks Island. Rusty is a very gracious host and the island really is a lovely place. At that time I tried to hint that it would be really, really important to me if he could make some move to save the site from what was obviously happening. And I got the impression he had just lost heart. He was very busy at the time setting up Scoop websites for Democratic political candidates and kuro5hin was becoming an embarrassment.

One thing a lot of people seem to agree K5 did right was collectively talking me into letting K5 host my novel to put it online. And doing that was in fact one of the best things I've ever done for myself. But after 2008 the prestigious kuro5hin URL was getting to be more of an embarrassment. After Part 2 of Revelation Passage was blocked by the votebot I set up a basic page at localroger.com which I'd bought a couple of years before and never used and I published the vote-blocked stuff there; localroger 1, trolls 0. And what the hell I mirrored MOPI there too.

On a couple of occasions in the intervening years I've publicly asked Rusty to redirect hits to my novel to my own page, and two or three times he just kind of ignored me. (He wouldn't give me FTP access to the K5 site so I had to email updates to him, which is why the site changed so seldom.)

About eight months ago I got fed up over something and asked him again, and this time he had the redirect code up in a couple of hours. A lot of initial hits still go through K5 but a lot of people have also apprently heeded my new banner change your bookmarks. Things still change seldom, but mainly because of habit and business. I'll get around to making it web 1.1 sometime.

His sudden willingness to redirect to my host might mean something or it might not. Sometimes he shows up and engages; during the Occupy protests he installed a joke Javascript that had animated "occupiers" occupy the page when it was loaded. But it's clearly a wasteland now. Now that DailyKos isn't running on Scoop I'm not sure how important it is that the political cycle is winding up again, but all things about the current K5 are getting a bit embarrassing.
posted by localroger at 4:31 PM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


The hacker news thread if anyone is interested.
posted by bukvich at 4:34 PM on July 13, 2012


localroger: "Rusty...had just lost heart.

Rusty worked hard to create a great website in K5. I appreciate him providing, at least for a while, my favorite place on the web.

I can't speak for him, but I would be pissed-off and overwhelmed if I worked hard to create something great, only to have it ruined by a coordinated attack by trolls and crapflooders.

I don't really want him to completely pull the plug. There's a lot of great content there from years gone past. I'm sure that weeding out all of the garbage would be a long, hard and thankless task. I'm know for myself that a task like that, for a completely unappreciative user base, would be pretty low on my priority list.

Rusty, if you're reading this, please accept my heartfelt thank you. I know I'm not the only one who appreciates your work.

I just wish it would have turned out differently.
posted by double block and bleed at 10:21 PM on July 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Holy crap: New Digg owner Betaworks has just relaunched the site in radically different form, with a HuffPo-esque newsmagazine layout, decent story selection, and no comment system.

Who knows if it will work better than v4, but this is the most important update in my book:
What about my data from the old Digg?

We believe that users own their data. We’re working on a system that will extract all user data from the old Digg infrastructure. In August we’re launching an archive website for users of the old Digg to find, browse, and share a history of their submissions, diggs, and comments.

If you’d like to be notified when your data will be available, just enter your email address here. Then stay tuned, and let us know if you have any questions.
If this actually happens, then heavens bless you, BetaWorks.
posted by Rhaomi at 1:55 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


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