Alright Digg, the honeymoon’s over, so I want to cut right to the chase. When we first met I was pretty much smitten. I loved the way you showed me new and exciting things, and took me to wonderful places I might never have found without you. However, as time went on, you started to grow more distant, and I quickly learned that despite all your talk about community you really didn’t care about my needs at all. You don’t care about anyone but yourself, and to be quite honest, you’re kind of an asshole sometimes.
Now don’t get all defensive and start telling me I’m the asshole. I’m only telling you this because I do care about you deeply and I want us to be happy together. Consider this an intervention of sorts. I’ll be the first to concede I may not be the perfect user all the time, and there are probably a few things I’ve done that you weren’t particularly fond of. For starters, I’ve been cheating on you with reddit for a couple years now. But you know what? It’s because reddit gives me something you don’t: honesty.
So, in the interest of honesty, it only seems fair to tell you where we stand, and point out a few simple ways we could right this sinking ship and regain a healthy respect for one another:
Make Up Your Mind About Shouts
Alright. So you say you want people to be able to promote their stories among friends? Seems reasonable enough. But, then you turn around and seem to devalue a person’s digg if it comes from a shout. How does this make any sense?
So, just level with me. Should I shout my stories or not? Don’t talk out both sides and tell me the variety of people digging a particular submission is important, and then provide a feature designed explicitly to solicit diggs from the same people over and over.
All I can figure from what you’re telling me is that I’m better off just digging as many different stories in “upcoming” as I possibly can so 1) friends will feel obligated to digg my stories back, and 2) my submissions have a better chance of showing up in the recommendations for other digg users.
Eliminate Blind Digging
This brings me to the next point: please eliminate blind digging. Sure sure, you’ve slowed people down a bit, and you can’t just go around digging a story a second like the gold-ol’-days. But, the fact remains you can digg a submission without ever even clicking through to look at the site, and to be fair, I’ve found myself guilty of doing this on more than one occasion. For the most part it’s an innocuous thought process of “sure, who doesn’t love zero punctuation reviews, I’ll digg it now and watch it later.” But, this can be taken to ridiculous extremes and people digging several hundred stories in a day can’t honestly say they even looked closely at the majority of what they were digging.
And yes, Digg, I blame you for this. Sometimes it seems like you’re more caught up trying to be the hip parent / best friend instead of an authority figure. Just grow a pair and decide when enough is enough. Tell us how much is too much and then stick to it. We might be mad at first, but at least we’ll respect you for it.
Show the Number of Buries
Speaking of respect, let’s use the “if you have a problem with me, then say it to my face” mantra as a start and at the very minimum begin publishing the number of buries a particular story has gotten alongside the number of diggs. You do it with the comments, so why treat a bury like some big secret when it comes to the actual stories themselves?
How many people who have had submissions with 200 or more diggs fail to make the front page are left wondering “why didn’t my story go popular, dammit?” At least it would help eliminate the frustration if you could quickly see your picture of a beagle reading the newspaper wasn’t as newsworthy as you’d initially thought.
Allow for Customization
Similarly, it would be nice if I had a little more say when it comes to what I’m greeted with when I come running to you in the middle of the work day for a quick reprieve from productivity. Yes Digg, maybe reddit has spoiled things by letting me be so picky about what I want to see, but I’d appreciate it if you were at least decent enough to respect some basic allergies from time to time. Can’t I at least opt out of the war on Scientology and have a brief respite from reading headlines about the RIAA becoming even more bastardly?
I don’t see how it would hurt things if you gave your friends a chance to choose what interests them the most. You don’t even have to let me choose anything significant, I just want to pretend my say matters. Let me eliminate a category that doesn’t interest me from showing up on the home page when I’m logged in. Let me pick title keywords that I don’t want to see ever again. You can start by providing me a way to filter out anything with the words “best” and “ever” in the title.
Honestly, if someone can write a whole book that lets me choose my own adventure, the least you can do is give me the flexibility to only see upcoming stories with titles in the English language.
Provide Some Transparency
Really, I think all of my complaints boil down to this last criticism. You don’t tell people where they stand. The open letter to Kevin Rose from a few months back actually did a pretty good job of pointing that out. You hide behind an algorithm because it lets you keep us at a distance and you can easily sidestep people’s questions without ever having to let things “start getting real.”
It would be wonderful if there was someone who actually took the time to interact with interested members of the community and treated the users with a little respect. Obviously you’re not going to be able to respond to every email wanting to know why a submission didn’t make it, or what you can do to make the front page more often, but developing some clear standards and then communicating those to the community at large would be a fantastic start.
So, even though I do feel bad for kicking you while you’re down, now seemed like as good a time as any to pull you aside for a little heart to heart. However–and this might just be me being paranoid–I have a sneaking suspicion you aren’t even listening to me. My guess is anything I said was only falling on deaf ears while your eyes darted around the room getting sidetracked by pictures of anteaters and nerdy comics.
Yeah, I know, that stuff is amusing. And you win, I’ll probably keep coming back. But, if you actually took a few minutes to really think about what I said and considered making a couple of changes on your side of the fence, we might be able to rekindle a little bit of that excitement we’ve been missing for a long, long time.
At least think about it. Please…