New Digg vs old Digg, Old Dogg and new tricks

Digg has launched version 4 (v4)of its popular social news website to much derision across the web.New Digg has borrowed a few ideas from Facebook and Twitter, introducing the ability to follow friends. Along with Top News, the New Digg has a...


Digg has launched version 4 (v4)of its popular social news website to much derision across the web.

New Digg has borrowed a few ideas from Facebook and Twitter, introducing the ability to follow friends. Along with Top News, the New Digg has a personalised news stream, “My News,” which shows stories dugg by users you choose to follow, rather than the most popular news.

But users have been in revolt over the redesign since the new site went live last week, in particular over the new focus away from a page edited by the masses to a personalised news feed.

On Twitter: @gsgraf wrote: “What do #NewDigg and #HurricaneEarl have in common? Both disasters that failed to do anything.”

@5ummer posted: “Just signed up for Reddit.... I feel like a traitor. *sighs* #digg #newdigg #diggv4sucks”

And @jasonthinks said: “I didn't think it was possible to have crappier updates than Facebook, but the new just achieved the impossible! #digg #newdigg”

Meanwhile Mashable ran a poll on its website to ask people which version of the site people prefer. It was a landslide victory for the old version of Digg.
Kevin Rose, Digg founder who stepped down as CEO on the same week as New Digg went live, has tried to address some of the issues that have angered users in his blog post titled " Digg v4: release, iterate, repeat."

Rose wrote: "At Digg it's our job to try new things, analyse the usage data, iterate, and evolve. While not everyone is happy with the new design, as of right now the usage looks extremely good (ie, more people registering (43,000+ new users yesterday), digging, consuming, clicking, following, etc). Our top priority is to stabilise the site, then we'll look at the data/feedback and make decisions on what to change going forward."

Rose went on to address some of the requests to bring back features that were dropped for the new layout (read the full list on his blog).

Digg has also written a post to address some of the issues that users have experienced.

Why did Digg build version 4?

Digg was mired with controversy last year when a massive censorship was uncovered that involved a voting down or “burying” submissions to Digg. All right wing comments were dugg up on command while left wing comments were dugg down.

The group behind this mass burying was TheDiggPatriots, which operated as a social network mafia and abused the Digg bury function to kill off content across the website.

Digg v4 has done away with the bury button. Instead users can ‘report’ any story to Digg that breaks the Digg terms of service. Another new feature is the ‘hide story’ function that allows a user to block and filter content that you don’t like to remove that story from your view. Digg hopes this will make it harder to game the site.

What about Digg alternatives?

Reddit, long-term enemy (or perhaps frenemy) of Digg, was quick to ‘game’ New Digg, as users flooded Digg v4’s Top News page with links to Reddit stories. Read more on Reddit
(and also check out this story for a screenshot.)

Then there is Old Dogg, a site that hopes to take the place of the Digg with a similar look and feel of Digg version 3. Old Dogg is the brainchild of Phil Mitchell (or @Phil3ev on Twitter), who made the site in response to the user revolt against Digg v4.

Mitchell writes: “This site aims to replace what we have all lost. Let’s make this site the way we used to like it. Share the news. It’s alive again.”

What is the future for Digg?

Love it or hate it, Digg had to change. The site was being gamed by users with an agenda, like TheDiggPatriots, and it was losing subscribers. What’s more, competition has ramped up as other social networks and bookmarking sites have appeared on the scene. But it’s going to be an uphill battle to soothe users’ discontent.

Matt Williams has taken the helm as CEO from Rose, and the outcome of how Digg survives this turbulence falls on him. In a statement, announcing the new hire, Rose wrote: "Introducing change is never easy, and bringing something as radically different as Digg version 4 was bound to generate a strong reaction. We are absolutely listening and really value everyone's feedback as we take Digg in new directions."

But in an interview with AllThingsD, Rose was a little more frank about the challenge ahead for Williams: "It's a pain in the ass and something I would never wish on my worst enemy."

Incidentally, Computerworld UK has created a profile on Digg v4 here. (Don’t ask about the missing ‘o’. If I’m going to add to the growing list of complaints against new Digg, I would ask about the character limit on profile names!)

What do you think of Digg v4? Will you keep using the new Digg? Or will you defect?

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