Tag Archive | "Digg"

Deconstructing Diggboss

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Deconstructing Diggboss


The social site application of scripts and bots have been around as long as their have been social sites. There are scripts and bots available for MySpace, StumbleUpon, Facebook, YouTube etc. All have very different applications for very different purposes on each site.  In 2007 MySpace was involved in a publicized battle with the commercial marketers of Bot programs such as Friend-Adder and Badder-Adder These programs automated friend adding and commenting protocols bypassing the captcha safeguards.  MySpace sent cease and desist letters to these companies briefly shutting many of them down.  As the scripts circulated and were improved upon, new companies popped up as fast as the old ones shut down.  With the exception of suing spam king Scott Richter and instituting some onerous captcha and sophisticated I.P.tracking they finally gave up chasing after these bot developers.  The MySpace pursuit logic was that these bots violated state and federal anti-spam laws as they allowed people to bypass the captcha spam safeguards and send tens of thousands of comments to its membership base.  What are bots and scripts?

Bot – A software program that imitates the behavior of a human, as by querying search engines or participating in chatroom or IRC discussions. A bot is a program that performs various computer protocols automatically without human intervention. For ex GoogleBot is a application that surfs the internet and collects all the websites for Google and saves it in a database.  Email Extraction bots surf the internet and scan pages for email addresses to spam.  With regards to Digg, Promote-My-Site provides bot services that allow a person to digg without being at his or her computer.

Script – A simple program in a utility language or an application’s proprietary language. Scripts are usually very small code.  Designers tend to refer to any code in JavaScripts as script. Most webpages including Digg have some JavaScript in them which performs some action. For example the legitimate Digg button provided by Digg  uses a script.  When you click the Digg  button that action is reported back to the server.

So what about Digg?   What is the big deal with the external development of certain scripts and bots that do not impact the Digg servers and do not have any impact on the Digg algorithm?  If you listen to DiggBoss his two external scripts fit the following criteria:  They do not enable spamming or any other illegal activity. They do not allow faster digging. They do not remove or add Digg buttons. They do not bypass any protocols.  They do nothing more than enhance the Digg community user experience. Should not these types of applications be encouraged maybe even rewarded as they are often encouraged and rewarded in the Open Source community?  Why can’t Digg do likewise with API?    Digg allegedly encourages the creating of these programs through its “Application Programming Interface“(API).

The Digg Application Programming Interface (API) has been created to let users and partners interact programmatically with Digg. The API returns Digg data in a form that can be easily integrated into an application or a web site. While the API is available to everyone free of charge, its use is subject to acceptance of our API License Agreement.

The API license reads as follows:

1. GRANT OF LICENSE – Subject to your (“Licensee’s”) full compliance with all of the terms and conditions of this API Agreement (“Agreement”), Digg, Inc. (“Digg”) grants Licensee a non-exclusive, revocable, nonsublicensable, nontransferable license to download and use the Digg application program interface and other materials provided by Digg (collectively, “APIs”) to develop, reproduce and distribute non-commercial applications that interoperate with Digg.com or any other web property owned by Digg (“Digg Applications”). Licensee may not install or use the APIs for any other purpose (including without limit any commercial purpose) without Digg’s prior written consent. For the sake of clarity, the sale of advertising on a website where a Digg Application is hosted shall not alone constitute a commercial use under this Agreement, provided that the advertising is not integrated within the Digg Application itself. Licensee shall not use the APIs in connection with or to promote any products, services, or materials that constitute, promote or are used primarily for the purpose of dealing in: spyware, adware, or other malicious programs or code….

Digg’s  data is open to all under creative commons license.  Digg has a systematic way of delivering its data to anyone who is interested in having a look at it as long as they agree to the terms of access. They provide API or “Application Programmers Interface” Rather than write bots a programmer can legally view data that is made available by Digg. The data is read only in nature i.e. you can only view the data, you cannot submit back, edit or delete the data using APIs.

Former Digg power user “DiggBoss”, real name David,  used the API program to create two very useful Digg add-on applications that became extremely popular with the Digg community.  He was banned from the site when his applications became known to Digg. They had become more popular than the ones Digg had developed to enhance the user experience.

The two DiggBoss scripts made use of the API to check if your Digg friends were digging your submissions by making API queries to the digg server. The script would display the result such as 10 / 15 against the friend’s user name. The would mean the friend had dugg 10 of your last 15 submissions.   A very useful feature and a feature one would think would interest Digg. They have a much more basic feature that is extremely cumbersome and time consuming to use.  There was also a feature that allegedly reduced shout spam.   The feature was called “Shout To Friends Not Dugg”. This feature allowed a user to shout only to friends who had not previously dugg a story. There is certainly an argument that this did not reduce shout spam at all.  A person may not have dugg a story because he/she did not want to.  When that person got a re-shout it would be considered spam.  The script worked by sending a query to the Digg API server to find out friends who had already dugg and select the friends that had not this way reducing multiple shouts.

It was not possible for Digg to determine who was using the “who dugg” or  shout management feature. The script made calls to the free Google server where the application was installed and from the Google server to Digg API server.  The user computer with the script made the call to free Google server from Google server to Digg API sever and then back. The user was was never exposed to Digg server. The Digg APIs do not require any authentication i.e. passwords to operate.  If David’s script had stayed under the radar, he may never have been discovered. All Digg API data is open creative commons free for everyone.  It did not incorporate any of the “Easy-Digg” buttons or bypasses used in the scripts that allegedly resulted in his ban from Digg as well as over 100 other “power diggers”.

In March 2008 David did update the “Digg Friends Easy” script. He was then warned by Digg that such scripts were prohibited.  He was  asked to remove the script immediately. He was asked not to promote the script. He immediately removed it from the server.   What was left was the “who dugg”  application and the shout management application.  The “Digg Friend Easy” scripts themselves were not developed by David and are widely available on the web. The most popular one can be found at  http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/12708. This  script that adds “Diggit” or “Digg This” button on pages where Digg has not provided for them. This script has been on the internet as open source code since Oct 2, 2007.

In the end it appears getting rid of David was more about protecting the Digg business model and less about evil “Darth Vadar” scripts. The “Who Dugg” and shout management scripts did not even access the Digg primary servers.  In addition  Digg has recently released its own Firefox add-on touted by Kevin Rose on the Digg Blog.  The Diggboss script was a much better developed and more popular form of competition. Maybe they were in no mood for dealing with someone who had developed a better product showing up their  developers.  This seems strange since the  the license agreement gave them ownership of the Diggboss program.  The API license contains the following language:

Digg shall own all right, title and interest relating to any and all inventions, works of authorship, designs, know-how, ideas and information made or conceived or reduced to practice, in while or in part, using the APIs. Licensee hereby agrees to make all assignments necessary to accomplish the foregoing ownership.”

Digg may have taken a lesson from the MySpace bot market and feared that David would market the program to his own benefit. Once the script was out in the open, it could be refined, improved upon and mutate into a Godzilla like creature devouring Digg profits with each digg.   The problem there is that is that the program needs their API server to function.  You would think Digg could simply shut down the API server to anyone trying to attempt the same thing?

In the end petty turf internal politics and turf wars won out over a better Digg experience.  Better to boot David for whatever reason or no reason at all. They can take his development for later use as their own when he is long forgtten.  Even if it was simply a knee-jerk reaction to the use of the clearly illegal scripts it shows once again that the Digg model is becoming less and less about user experience or community satisfication. It is all about bucks.  That is assuming Digg can ever be monetized to the extent anyone wants to give them bucks.  Google sure didnt.

WHY ARE COMMENTS CLOSED?

Comments are closed because all anybody seems to want to talk about is how I write about Digg because I am a Bitter Banned Digger or about the two”Easy-Digg” Scripts that got people banned. This blog is about  neither. It is about two Diggboss API add-ons that have nothing to do with those two scripts. It is about whether they should be allowed as user-enhancement add-ons.  If nobody wants to talk about that there is no point in opening comments.  If anyone does want to talk about that please email me and I wll post your comments.

Brian Cuban

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Free Speech And The Digg Business Model

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Free Speech And The Digg Business Model


There is no right to Free Speech on Digg or any  privately owned social site.  They are a private entities to which the First Amendment does not apply.  Double standards and no standards are allowed.

A person using Digg for the most part has no usage rights with regards to the system other than simple access. That access is at the whim of Digg.   They can kick a you off for any reason or no reason at all regardless of Terms Of Service(TOS).  The reason they go into detail on what you can and can not do is to protect their legal remedies.  The TOS ensure that when Digg sues someone for bringing down their servers, they can point to the TOS to show the person knew what he did was wrong.  The TOS are there to protect Digg’s business model and comply with state and federal law.  They are not there to provide or protect content and speech rights to the Digger.

The recent controversy over the use of scripts is a good example. Scripts allow a person to bypass certain Digg protocols. A person can  digg through articles quicker than he could could using the system as it was intended. This can involve bypassing Digg protocols or simply replicating the human process so you do not have to be at your computer.  Scripts are not allowed for one basic reason.  Scripts put a strain on the Digg servers. This slows the service down for all.  If the servers are overburdened too much  they could go down.  That hits Digg in the pocketbook.  That has a negative impact on the Digg business model. It has nothing to do with fairness and all the other community chatter.  Digg has stated this to the community.

What about all the controversy over people allegedly banned over offensive Katie Couric comments  and other alleged edgy  commentary?   Does anyone really think Kevin Rose keeps tab on Digg commentary to be sure things are taken out he does not personally agree with?   That is ridiculous.  He does keep an eye.  He keeps an eye for speech that will hurt his business model.   Kevin is not in business to shape your speech or create the warm fuzzies in the Digg Community.  He is in business to make money.  His goal is to monetize Digg to the maximum extent he can.  His goal is to monetize it to the extent that it is an attractive purchase to a potential buyer. If he his doing his job every single thing that goes on in Digg every second of every day is based on that.  Every moment of every day at Digg should be “selling time”.   Digg is selling itself to its users but most importantly to the advertisers, media partners and potential buyers. He must convince them that Digg is not just a another social site that is fun but with no real world value.

Digg’s value is not as as a news distribution conduit.  There are a ton of those.  Digg’s value is as a social phenomenon.  Phenomenons can die in the blink of an eye.  They are difficult to monetize and sell for just that reason.   There are a lot of bankrupt tech visionaries investors and start-up guys  who can attest to that.  How does Kevin Rose monetize and take the Digg phenomenon to the next level?    Hopefully by doing whatever he can to show he can generate consistent revenue through advertising, Katie Couric type events and whatever else he can come up with to show others they can make money through his model.   It is not by taking some keen interest in Digg user spats unless those spats potentially drive dollars away.   It is not an easy task and not one particular to Digg.  Social sites such as Facebook face the same challenges.

So why does Digg ban  diggers who engage some types unpopular speech.  Lets take the Katie Couric example. Not too long ago Digg hosted a “Katie Couric Diggs The Conventions” bit done through a Youtube video.  Her digg submission stated:

“Hey Digg, I’d like to take some questions from the Digg community with me to the Democratic and Republican conventions. Submit a question in the comment section below. I’ll ask the newsmakers and politicians some of your questions in my online coverage from both cities, and during a live Webcast from CBS News and CNET. Thanks! Katie.”

Several diggers who posted some controversial comments allegedly had their accounts shut down. The comments were allegedly removed.   Does anyone really think it was because of the hate speech, censorship, or political leanings of Kevin Rose?   There is hate speech all over Digg ten times worse than was posted over Katie Couric.  The comments were removed  because Katie Couric reads those comments.  Katie Couric may get upset at those comments. Katie Couric may decided not to parter with Digg again.  Katie Couric may tell others of media note of her negative experience.  They will not want to come to partner with Digg.  I suspect Digg did some heavy marketing of that event to potential advertisers and partners.  If those  advertisers go away Digg loses money.   Digg is now worth less.  Kevin Rose is pissed.  Kevin Rose decides it is not in the interest of the Digg business model to allow that type of speech when it affects his ability to generate revenue and monetize his investment.  In my opinion that is why the Digg commentators lost their accounts. Their speech potentially took money out of Kevin’s pocket.

Lets  take a another look at the controversy over scripts.  People are required to not use scripts.  Digg is not required to boot people who use scripts. They can have a double standard.  Digg can allow some people they know are using scripts to stay and boot others at their discretion.  They are not required to be fair to the Digg community.  If they are unfair to the extent that revenue goes away they would certainly look at that and make adjustments. Rose may have very well have made that decision with regards to continued script usage. In any community whenever you have a large number of people complaining of the actions of a few there is generally a response by the community leaders. I however believe that if he has decided to crack down it is because they were becoming so prevalent it was having a pronounced  affect on the infrastructure and not because of any perceived unfairness in the community. Slow and crashing servers risk his business model.  I believe there will be some type of captch based system or similar safeguard implemented to slow down digging rates.

I suspect that advertisers and others who give their money to Digg could care less about scripts and other community squabbles  unless they affect the number of people looking at the content they pay Digg to promote.  I suspect that if there were stats showing that regardless of how unfair they are, scripts actually increase usership with no infrastructure issue Digg’s response to complaints bout their use would be quite different. Digg would simply morph into a different type of user experience.

Take the server  issue out of the equation.  If  I am Kevin Rose, before I start booting power users for scripts I am going to evaluate how that affects my business model.  The Digg community may not like to hear it but but power users who create heavy discourse help monetize Digg for the better.  When my brother Mark Cuban first bought the Dallas Mavericks and was fined 250, 000 dollars by the NBA he made the comment that the publicity he got from that fine when monetized well exceeded the amount of the fine itself.  While there is an art to determining where the line is crossed, the monetary value of bad publicity can far exceed good publicity because people expect good things to happen.  They talk more when bad things happen.  I suspect Kevin Rose is aware of this theory.  I do not know how he has evaluated it but there is certainly an argument that all of these  controversies such as top diggers using scripts or whatever increase the value of his investment.   He may of course have looked at it and decided that this is the type of publicity that in the long run hurts his investment but if it does not  why would he want to stop it?   If Digg was just about the pure form of anonymously distributing news across the internet Kevin would have been able to monetize his investment and sell long ago.  He is not in business to placate the Digg masses unless that placation increases the value of his investment or failure to decreases it.

Forget politics. Forget Babyman. Forget Conspiracies. Forget Scripts.  It is all about the Benjamins.

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Confessions Of A Banned Digger

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Confessions Of A Banned Digger


I have been banned from Digg.   I have been given a Digg death sentence with no reprieve. I have been banned after 30k diggs, 40+ front page submissions and 500 comments.

I first heard about Digg in September of 2007.  I had just started my blog The Cuban Revolution. I heard that Digg could drive traffic to my site so I signed up.  My motives were selfish.  I had no desire to share news. I wanted traffic. Self-promotion at its worst.  I had no concept of Digg friends, fans, algorithms, gaming, power digging, etc.   My first submissions were done with the innocence and ignorance of a two year old.  I dutifully added the Digg button to my blog and started submitting.    After a few months I was getting anywhere from 20-40 diggs for my submissions.  To para-quote Gordon Gekko:

“At time time I thought those were all the Diggs in the world…..”

This went on for months.  I then hooked up with fellow digger and now good friend LewP.   Lew took me under his wing.  He explained how Digg worked.  That is when I began to add friends.  I  also gained the understanding that submitting your own stuff was bad and having only your mutual friends digg your stuff was  not that helpful.   Several diggers  and I started an email group.  In this group we submitted and shouted each others submissions.   Front page postings from my blog skyrocketed.   Fifty percent of my blog submissions were making the front page. This meant tens of thousands of hits to my blog.  I was gaming the system for all it was worth.  This went on for a while.  Then the roof fell in.    Digg changed the way its algorithm worked.  Diversity of diggs became much more important in determining whether a submission made it to the front page.  Since smaller blogs tend to have a fixed following, it became twice has hard for me to get the diversity I needed for one of my posting to make front page.  I tried every possible variation to game my blog postings. None met with any real success.  I was emailing for shouts, instant messaging for shouts,  begging for shouts, singing for shouts,  offering free Dallas Mavericks tickets for shouts(not really).  In the end nothing worked.  My blog submissions would get 250-300 diggs without making front page.   Fortunately my early front page submissions had worked well for me in developing retained readership.

The most significant development for me in my short “Digg life” was when my post Why Athletes Go Broke went front page.  It was subsequently picked up by the Wall Street Journal.  This landed me two ESPN and a Fox News interview.   It also resulted in offers to write for publications.  None of it would have happened if it had not gone front page.

Once it hit home that I would no longer be able to use Digg to self-promote my blog I started doing it solely for fun and using it the way it was intended.  This is when I really got addicted and eventually fell to the dark side resulting in my ex-communication from the “Temple Of Digg”.   I was not looking for news to submit like many of the top diggers such as MrBabyman do.  When in the normal course of my news reading  I saw a story that interested me and looked like it might have a national appeal I would submit it.  While most of these submissions revolved around my brother Mark Cuban’s bid to purchase the Cubs and some off of his weblog  Blog Maverick I would also submit other stories of general interest.   I always got a kick when in the comments I would see complaints that my promotion of Mark’s material was tantamount to self promotion.  According to Alexa Blog Maverick is one of the most read non-commercial blogs on the web.  Mark does not need my help.

In doing the above, I built my “Digg credibility” which allowed me to add many of the top Diggers such as MrBabyMan and  MakiMaki. The rub was that in order to keep these top diggers interested in your submissions you have to Digg all of theirs.   This is only fair but becomes problematic within the Digg system if you do not have the time to sit in front of your computer digging all day.  I decided that I needed help to keep up.   While I heard rumors that there were diggers using scripts to speed up the digging process I had never given it much thought.  I knew that scripts were a violation of the Digg Terms Of Service (TOS).  There are many reasons they are not allowed.  The ethics based reason is that they defeat the intended purpose of Digg in being a news distribution conduit.  Scripts turn Digg into a “who is digging the most” contest.

I first experimented with Promote-My-Site. This is a web based system that allows you to do a timed auto-digg and auto- delete as well as a few other handy functions. The upside of this service is that it does not bypass any steps you would go through in the actual Digg process.   It therefore in theory should not raise any red flags that a script is being used.  The is extremely beneficial when you can not keep up with your incoming shouts.   You can set it a a 15 second delay, turn it on at night and let it digg and delete away. The downsides are that you have to pay for it and as of this writing it does not have a process to digg friends submissions pages.   It is therefore not digging the submissions of friends who do not shout such as MrBabyMan and MakiMaki.  I would still have to do those manually.   This however is a much less onerous process when incoming shouts are already dugg.   I used this service without incident for a while.  Then Darth Vadar(not his real digg name) appeared within Digg and introduced me to the dark side.   He gave me scripts that allows a person to bypass the normal two step process to Digg a story. It allowed me to skip a step  and digg a story directly from the submission page by creating a digg button on that page.  I began digging friends non-shouted submissions with reckless abandon.   I knew it was a TOS violation.  I didn’t care.   I was blinded by the sheer volume.  I was going to hit 500k diggs by the end of the year and change my Digg name to “The Cubanator!”  Hopefully there was also a free car or a set of steak knives for such an accomplishment.  It was working great.  My numbers and Digg ranking were rising rapidly.  In true contravention of what Digg is supposed to be about I do not think I read one story I dugg after I started using the script.  I was willing to sacrifice knowledge for speed. My “Digg bliss” was short-lived.  One day my account was gone. Shortly after it dissapeared I received the following email from Digg Support:

Hi from Digg.com,

We’re writing to let you know that your Digg.com account “bcuban” has
been banned for using unauthorized scripts to Digg stories from portions
of the site where no Digg buttons are provided. Specifically, our logs
show high Digging rates and activity from
digg.com/users/bcuban/friends/shoutsin and
digg.com/users/bcuban/friends/submissions.


Using scripts is in violation of the Digg Terms of Use (digg.com/tos).
For your reference, we’ve bolded the section of our Terms of Use you’ve
violated below………

We will remove the ban from your account under the following conditions:
you re-read and re-affirm the Digg Terms of Use (response via email) and
agree to stop using scripts of any kind on the Digg.com website
immediately.

- Digg Support Team

I thought about pulling a “Michael Vick” with complete denial in the face of overwhelming evidence.   I decided to go with what in my mind was the less egregious route of feigning ignorance of the Digg TOS and promising never to do it again. I of course knew all along that I was violating  TOS and I knew they knew I knew.   I was simply in self-denial that I had become what I despised, a “Digg Whore” I sent them the following email in response:

To:
“support@digg.com” <support@digg.com>
Cc:
“brian.cuban@dallasmavs.com” <brian.cuban@dallasmavs.com>
I was unaware such activity was prohibited. I have read and re-affirm the Digg TOS-i agree to not uses scripts or other prohibited means in using your service
Within 24 hours Digg re-activated my account and sent me the following email:
From:

Hi Brian,

Your bcuban account has been unbanned. Please note, however, that your
account will remain under review, and any violation of Digg’s Terms of
Service may result in a permanent ban of your account.

After receiving this email I dutifully removed the Darth Vadar scripts BUT I continued to digg and delete my shouts using the Promote-Site-Site script.   My internal reasoning was that since they automated the manual digging process it would not trigger any red-flags.  You would think I would have proceeded with caution after the warning knowing that my account would be scrutinized.  The smart and safe thing wold have been to stay under the radar.  I chose the knucklehead route.   I decided that with my limited time to digg, if I did not keep up I would lose many of my top Digging friends regardless. It was a gamble worth taking.  I should have listened to my little voice.  A week later I received the following email:

Hi Brian,

We’ve permanently banned your account “bcuban” from Digg for continued Terms of Use violations. As you are aware, your account was initially banned on August 29, 2008 for violating the Digg TOU using a third party script to enable Digging from sections of the site where we do not provide Digg buttons (specifically from digg.com/users/bcuban/friends/submissions). On that same day you re-affirmed that Digg TOU and stated that you “agree to not uses scripts or othere prohibited means in using your service”. However, our logs show an extremely high number of Diggs from your account which prompted us to further research your account activity. In that research, we learned you were Digging content from another script that enables Digging from the shouts they’ve received. As has been explained to you, using scripts to Digg content on Digg.com is a violation of our TOU.

Section 5.8 USER CONDUCT of the Digg TOU states:

with the exception of accessing RSS feeds, you will not use any robot, spider, scraper or other automated means to access the Site for any purpose without our express written permission. Additionally, you agree that you will not: (i) take any action that imposes, or may impose in our sole discretion an unreasonable or disproportionately large load on our infrastructure; (ii) interfere or attempt to interfere with the proper working of the Site or any activities conducted on the Site; or

(iii) bypass any measures we may use to prevent or restrict access to the Site;

Due to the nature of this violation, as well as the recent statement from you that you would not use scripts to Digg stories, we have elected to permanently ban your account. This decision is final and irreversible.

A few days later I tried to sneak back with a wig and fake mustache but as it was from the same I.P. address they quickly caught me and shut me down.

There you have it.  My Digg experience birth to death.   I am not upset with Digg.  I made the choice to violate their TOS for my benefit and got caught.  There is a degree of relief.   I had become a slave to the Digg machine.  I was  sitting on my big fat butt gaining weight with every Digg. My goldfish died. My dog and cat ran off together.   The up side is that I can actually say that Digg affected my life in a positive way.  I am now a  published author.   I made friends that I will continue to keep in touch with.  I will continue to read stories on Digg because:

“any news worth reading will find its way to you”

©2008 Brian Cuban

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How Digg Got Me On ESPN and Fox News

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How Digg Got Me On ESPN and Fox News


What is Digg? For those who do not know, I will use the description right off their web site:

“Digg is a place for people to discover and share content from anywhere on the web. From the biggest online destinations to the most obscure blog, Digg surfaces the best stuff as voted on by our users. You won’t find editors at Digg — we’re here to provide a place where people can collectively determine the value of content and we’re changing the way people consume information online.”

I will not go into all the ins and outs of Digg. You can read a good article about it here. You basically submit content you find interesting to the Digg Community. The community votes it up or down. If enough people vote it up and not too many vote it down or “bury it”, your submission makes it to the “Front Page” which can generate thousands of hits to the submission.

Is Digg beneficial to the “obscure bloggers” of which I count myself? It can be if you remember the key phrase coined by Viacom movie mogul Sumner Redstone “CONTENT IS KING!”. I actually thought my brother Mark Cuban coined the phrase until I read about Redstone. This is the golden rule that drives the Digg community.

What is your blog about? Is your blog about getting traffic from front page postings regardless of quality of the content because you are ad supported? I see a lot of that on Digg. That kind of content in my opinion is not king when it comes to blogging because it is almost always content generated by someone else. Why not spend some time building a loyal readership base with quality and or original content? If you don’t people are not going to come back until you have another popular submission. I want reader loyalty. I want people to stick around and look at my multiple posts. The only way they are going to do that is if they enjoyed the initial post I submitted to Digg. When a Digg submission of mine hits front page, it is just as or more important to me how many other of my articles are clicked.

There is nothing wrong with writing about other people’s news. Unless you are writing an original screenplay it makes sense to write about the world happening around you. The key for me at least is to take an event, even if 500 other people have written on it, and make it mine with original ideas, thoughts and viewpoints. If I can not add something new (at least new to me) to an event, I tend to stay away from it.

The tendency of some Diggers is to read only the lead-in when they digg. I try to create a lead-in that encourages readers to click on the link to my blog rather than simply digg and comment off of the lead-in. A bad lead-in can get an article buried as quickly as a bad article itself. The art of writing a good lead-in can be compared to a a teaser for a Hollywood movie. You want to capture the interest of your audience quickly without giving to much information. You want them to be curious enough to go see the movie.(your blog) It is a continuous learning process.

Do not be afraid of the comments. When a submission goes front page there can be hundreds of comments. Many of them are hateful and tough to read but if you shrug those off and find the meaningful ones you can learn a lot about ways to improve your writing and content selection skills. I routinely got tortured for my grammar before I started working harder on it. I still get tortured to a degree but the complaints have reduced dramatically.

Here is an example of how Digg recently worked for me resulting in two ESPN interviews and an appearance on The Fox News Channel.(video below).

On June 6 2008 I wrote an article entitled “Why Athletes Go Broke“. It went popular and generated 814 Diggs. This is a fairly modest number for a front page submission. In contrast, the actual article on my blog received 30 thousand hits. This is again, not an unusually large number of hits from a front page submission. The real benefit is the other search engines and blogs that pick up on this large number of hits. This process got my post noticed by the New York Times. The Times linked to the my blog in their Freakonomics Section in a post entitled: Why Do So Many Celebrities Go Broke. It was also posted in their “Whats Online” section. The Times postings resulted in my submission being picked up by news blogs all over the world. This resulted in two ESPN interviews and a national appearance on the Fox News Channel.(video below) I have also received several offers to write for publications.

What lessons can be learned from this? There are some that will say that this only happened because my last name is Cuban. I dispute that assertion. I have written many blogs that have gone front page and not generated any interest beyond Digg. It proves that Digg does work for bloggers even in the face of any disdain by the Digg community towards the blogging community. I have no idea if this disdain actually exists but I read about it frequently. It proves that regardless of any Digg variables, content will always be king. If you have content that is timely, interesting and hits a “public nerve” Digg will work for you. Digg is not just for distributing hard news around the internet. Digg can work to distribute your thoughts on that news as well. You just have to have something worth saying. Digg can pull back the curtain but the audience still has to like the show. Be original-Be timely-Be bold as a blogger. The Digg community will stand up and take notice.

©2008 Brian Cuban

MY INTERVIEW ON THE FOX NEWS CHANNEL

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