Kevin’s bold move…

Wow.

Like wow, wow.

Today’s Kevin Rose announced that he is taking down the top users list at digg because of the top diggers are getting blamed by “some outlets” (I guess that would be news outlets) as the cause of manipulation on digg.

Well, truth be told if you take the negative baggage out of the world manipulate and just look at it as “to change something” it is very true that the top users change (aka manipulate) digg. The whole concept of social news/bookmarking is that users can have an impact. So, those outlets are 100% correct that the top users control much of what you see on digg, and the users are not at fault for trying to have an impact.

The problem really is that there is a perception that those users rule digg–and in fact they rule somewhere between 1/3rd and 1/2 of digg from what I can see.

Most of the top users I’ve talked to over the years are very, very driven by that top list. They want to climb higher, they talk about strategies to climb the rankings, they build tools to get to stories first, and they lament their inability to sustain their position when they fall.

digg motivated the top users in the system with recognition and now that digg is “at scale” they really don’t need this rabid group any more. In fact, the value of a motivated top 100 and their never-ending quest to climb the rankings is not worth the negative impact and press it has on digg is what I’m hearing from Kevin. digg wants to shake the fact that the top stories are controlled by a select group of individuals and this is not the first step in that direction. Remember digg already dinged people for going direct to the permalink to vote (as opposed from the on deck circle).

This is the gift and curse of social news… your existence is based on user participation, and your existence can be destroyed by certain types of user participation (i.e. spam, payola, gaming).

Of course, since digg has an API isn’t this all moot?! Won’t someone create a top-user list in 10 minutes after digg shuts their list down?

[[[[[ UPDATE: Someone One of my old Netscape developers (!!!) did it in 30 minutes http://www.efinke.com/digg/topusers.html ]]]

I applaud Kevin for making the bold move, but I don’t think this one has legs. I think the top users deserve their recognition and if Kevin is not paying them for their thousands of hours a work and year AND not paying them with recognition what’s left?!

The driving forces in these system are (in order:

1. recognition
2. affiliation
3. compensation

All that digg really has left now is affiliation, and the question is will that be enough. I wish him luck.

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