Over at Digg.com this afternoon there was some social unrest in the social media world. You’ve probably read stories about how a relatively small percentage of Digg.com users are responsible for the majority of the popular posts that people see on the first few pages. This is not news. What’s interesting about today is that users are heavily ‘Digging’ stories about the system not working – or being undemocratic.
As of 4:15PM EST today there were two of these stories on the front page of Digg.com. The second story, which has been dugg by over 1,400 users is about how the author’s story wouldn’t appear on the home page due to Digg.com moderators silencing his message. The author also published a story about a ‘flaw’ in Digg.com’s ‘submission model.’
Meanwhile, over on the very top Digg.com story, user Taylor Hayward shows us how the top Diggers are consistently promoting each other on to the top of digg.com. HOW THE DIGG SYSTEM IS BEING GAMED BY A SMALL NUMBER OF USERS.
What’s all this mean? Is social media just showing us the undue influence of the long tail? Or, is this simply a newer rendition of Pareto’s principle at work?
My question for you is this. How much do you feel this is already happening on similar sites like Newsvine? If it is happening, what can Newsvine or the communities of other social media sites do to stop it? Or, is there any reason to stop it at all – is this just Social Media Darwinism at work, and if so, should we just let the laws of natural selection play out without interfering? Be sure to let us know your thoughts on the subject.
Shortly after originally publishing this story on my Newsvine Column, Kevin Rose, the founder and chief architect of Digg.com, posted a reply on his blog to Digg.com’s detractors. You could find this blog post because it was right at the top of Digg’s home page, right next to the stories questioning Digg. As you might expect from a social media leader, Kevin’s calm reasoned tone and response was just what the doctor ordered (to the tune of 1,754 diggs as of right now). Not only did Kevin’s message explain Digg’s current practices and ranking algorithms, it also highlighted changes that are coming to Digg that will help quell user concerns like the ones being ‘dugg’ by so many readers. If you have a blog, a wiki, or even a traditional marketing and PR team, then you have probably already inferred that Kevin’s methods are ‘best practice’ for the social media space. Pay a lot of attention to conversations about you and your brand on the Internet so you don’t miss out on these conversational Tropical storms that if left ignored, end up Cat 5 Hurricanes in the back yard of your Trailer Park. React swiftly, acknowledge and be part of the community, defend your position without being defensive, contribute your ideas, and support what you’re saying with facts and reason. If you take this kind of action, you’ll likely end up OK, if not the better for it.
Another great example of this kind of social media optimization is Mike Davidson, CEO of Newsvine. Like, Kevin Rose, Mike is flat out like a lizard drinkin’ when it comes to responding to conversations on his brand and product on the Internet. When I posted a story on my personal blog about Newsvine being out of commission last Saturday, he quickly found my story and commented on it. Not exactly the kind of thing we’re used to from a CEO now is it? When I posted my story about Digg.com on Newsvine and asked Newsvine users if Newsvine would follow in similar foot steps to Digg.com, Mike D. was right there again – only an hour and a half after I posted my story. On that topic, NO, Newsvine community members do not think that Newsvine will experience the same kind of issues that Digg.com has seen.
Why do I say that? Because I asked them in a poll on my Newsvine story and the result is a 64%/36% vote in favor of Newsvine keeping out of user hot water…
[tags]Social Media Darwinism, digg.com, social software, newsvine, digg, social media, social media optimization, social unrest[/tags]