Todd Malicoat has a write up called The Search Marketer's Guide to Digg, where he explains the difference between the Digg.com editorial process and search engines editorial process. It all comes down to the "human editorial authority," and I quote;
While most the search engines DO have human intervention - they haven't accepted and embraced it. One of the beauties of digg is if there is CRAP in the index - you know exactly who to blame for it.
As always, both human and algorithmic methods of intervention have their faults. I am sure Danny will go into a bigger write up on the pros and cons of each at a later point.
Postscript From Danny: I may write-up more on this in the future, and I talked about it on a recent Daily SearchCast episode. The short story is that it's been amazing to watch Digg effectively go through the same type of spam fighting evolution that the search engines have done.
Consider from Digg:
Digg is a user driven social content website. Ok, so what the heck does that mean? Well, everything on digg is submitted by the digg user community (that would be you). After you submit content, other digg users read your submission and digg what they like best. If your story rocks and receives enough diggs, it is promoted to the front page for the millions of digg visitors to see.
The overall idea is that the community does everything. In reality, there is a lot of backend editing and changes done by moderators. That's because the community, if left to itself, will have a small number of people who try to manipulate Digg for their own benefit.
It's an old story. Consider from Google:
PageRank performs an objective measurement of the importance of web pages by solving an equation of more than 500 million variables and 2 billion terms. Instead of counting direct links, PageRank interprets a link from Page A to Page B as a vote for Page B by Page A. PageRank then assesses a page's importance by the number of votes it receives.
Except it's far more complicated than that. Links have to be weighted, not trusted and entire sites removed because of spam and manipulation.
Both Digg and Google (and the search engines before it) started out in what I'd call "trusted mode," where you are optimistic that a community (people submitting; a collection of pages) can be trusted. Along the way, they shift to "mistrust mode" where you realize you need to be initially dubious about everything that flows in.
If I had more time, I'd go through and do a long compare-and-contrast on how recent Digg changes have exact counterparts in the crawler-based search engine world. Honestly, there are times when I could do a search and replace for the word Google to the word Digg in an article on spam fighting and the description would be the same.
The answer, by the way, is simple. Machines that the search engines depend on are imperfect (in particular, rankings can be manipulated more broadly), as is the human model Digg uses (in particular, humans can miss a lot of things). The combination of the two is much stronger. Some more thoughts on this from me:
- More On Query Refinement, The Human Scale Problem & Creating The Search Dialog
- MSN's Hand Crafted Results (Fake? - Shame On Me!)
- In The Election Results Race, Yahoo's The Winner
- Case Study: Digg Versus Google News Traffic
And here are a bunch of related stories from across the web that we've included in our headlines recently:
- Banned From Digg, John Chow dot Com;
- Akismet, Could They Ban Kevin Rose?, Dave Naylor;
- Kevin Rose & Digg on Moderation*, Google Blogoscoped;
- Kevin Rose Admitting Digg Has Moderators, The Mu Life;
- How Not To Get Your URL Banned From Digg, Pronet Advertising;
- Forbes Video Interview With Digg CEO, TechCrunch
- Three reasons why Digg gets its numbers wrong, Valleywag;
- The Privacy Implications Of Social Media, The Mu Life
- Spike The Vote, Will Get You Banned from Digg, Now for Sale, Marketing Shift;
- Digg Issues Cease and Desist to Diggdot.us, Micro Persuasion
- Shoveling on Digg, BusinessWeek