Much has been written about Digg.com and it’s top 100 ranked users. Charges ranging from conspiracy and collusion to corruption have been leveled at this group of elite Digg users, and, from the outside looking in, it’s easy to imagine why. The top 25 members alone account for over 12,000 stories that have been promoted to Digg.com’s front page. Those same 25 users have an average popular ratio of 35% (meaning 35% of the stories they submit make it to the front page). And, since a website typically receives tens of thousands of visitors in a short time from a story that makes it to the front page, these elite Digg users are viewed by many as the gatekeepers to this vast amount of potential web traffic. Add to that the fact that thousands of users submit stories that never even come close to the front page and the contrast becomes even clearer. These top 100 users, known as Digg’s Top 100, have quickly become people of interest.
I began to wonder… how much of what’s been written about these people is true? How much power do these users really hold? And, most of all, what do they think about all the attention they’ve been receiving lately. So, I decided to ask them. I tracked down several members of Digg’s Top 100 and asked for an interview. Thankfully, many agreed. Over the course of the next week or so, I’ll be bringing you several insider looks at Digg’s Top 100.
My first interview was with Stacy Doss (better known as 3monkeys) who is currently ranked 21st on Digg.
Stacy,first if you don’t mind, I’d like to get to know just a little bit about you. How old are you and where are you from? (Feel free to ballpark your age lol)
[I’m] pushing 40 and Born a Texan, Still a Texan
And what do you do as your day job?
Integration Engineer – Semiconductors – Electronic Design Automation
And lastly, do you have your own website you’d like us to visit?
Several, 3monkeyweb.com/3monkeys being the primary one.
Ok, let’s digg into the “real questions” if you’ll pardon the pun…
How did you start at Digg and what were your experiences moving up through the ranks?
I started to digg, when I got more free time to surf the web. I started noticing all of the “digg this” buttons and curiosity got the better of me, so here I am :) . For an old recap of this see [my post on] 3monkeyweb.com while rather old and it needs an update, it relates what I discovered during my first 2 months of digging. However, I’ve learned even more since then.
And what is your favorite aspect of Digg? What do you enjoy most about the site?
Friends, or more pointedly the social side of social x-ing.
Of course one question that is on the minds of nearly every digg user… Can you offer any suggestions or tips for getting your story on the front page?
Rule #1, submit quality content. Rule #2 submit quality content. Rule #3 make friends that have like interest.
Do the Top Users (I’m including you in this) really control the content on the front page? How much influence do you ACTUALLY have?
No, we don’t control the content. We may have an advantage due to the fact that we have a lot of friends that read our stories and digg them, that much is true. But if we submit junk it will be buried. Therefore, it is in our best interest to submit quailty articles. And for the most part, top diggers do this. Our only advantage is that a lot of diggers view our submitted stories. Our influence extends only as far as other diggers are willing to befriend us and read/digg our stories.
That seems logical enough. What areas or issues do you think Digg could improve upon?
Digg freely shows who has dugg a story, this is often friends of the submitter. I have almost 500 friends, most of which delve into the upcoming stories and more importantly my submitted stories. What digg doesn’t have is accountability for buries. I have friends digging my stories. But I can’t (and others can’t) see who is systematically burying stories either submitted by me or submitted from a particular site. There are a few sites I submit from that get buried simply because of the site, irregardless of the content or quality.
Speaking of stories you submit, another issue that is likely on everyone’s mind is that of paid submissions and buying Diggs.. Have you been approached to accept money (or other goods) to submit content or Digg an article?? How did or would you react?
Yeah, all of the top diggers have been approached. In general our reputation is worth more than these people offer, and these sites are mostly just spam bait. If I were to start submitting the kind of junk that is offered to me, diggers would soon realize it and stop digging me. No, I’d rather keep a clean record and digg quality stuff. Now if the NYT approached me that might be different :)
Do you feel paid submissions help or hurt the community?
Netscape has a good model in place. If there are people dedicated to providing quality content to the site, you are going to get quality content. Digg top users frequently get dissed on a variety of fronts, even though we don’t deserve it. From my perspective, it is better to have some, even if minor, moderation. Have you seen some of the junk that goes front page on Digg? Absolute junk.
On the issue of Netscape, were you approached by them to become a paid contributor? (If so did you accept? Why or why not?)
Where do you see Digg and other social bookmarking sites (such as Netscape or Reddit) heading over the course of the next year or two?
Steady state. More new users to replace the retiring users. It’s a fluid world. What wins in the end is quality content, ease of use and relevancy.
Being an SEO, your mention of “quality content” jumps out at me. In the Web 2.0 world quality content and link bait seem to used interchangeably. Since this IS an SEO blog, what is your opinion of SEO, the concept of linkbait, and it’s affect on Digg?
Linkbait sucks. It doesn’t have that much of an effect on digg. Spam articles are mostly factored out by the community. When it does get by it is only a temporary spike in page views and rarely any returning traffic. Digg is not a viable source of return visitors for these type of marketing gimicks.
Well, there you have it. Anything else you’d like to add?
Sure a lot :), but I’m a busy guy, maybe later.
Once again, I’d like to thank Stacy for allowing me to pick his brain a bit. If you have any other questions you’d like included in future interviews with member of Digg’s Top 100, feel free to leave a comment here, in our SEO forums, or email me personally at bcook[at]seorefugee[dot]com.