Saturday, October 31, 2009

Do You Digg Fraudd??

Like all the social networking sites which have eaten up capital to gain an audience, now turns to the business side of their engaging enterprise. There have been a series of articles leading up to the big question mark launch of advertisements mixed right in with the rest of the votable copy.

The idea is simple enough; let advertisers submit their "stories" for the digg community to poll up or down. The advertisers get a read of the response of this grizzled jaded audience to how they tout their goods. The digg community gets more grist to their voting mill. It's like wine tastings where the purveyors value the outspokenly critical palates the most.

The big question mark was how the community might react. Would they regard this as contamination, and just vote down and bury each and every ad? Or would they reward the corporate sponsor of their playground, and just let themselves go ahead and respond to a few catchy ads.

The early word is that this technique is working like a charm. Digg is lowering the price per click for advertisers whose ads get voted up, and effectively therefore penalizing the ones which get buried.

It feels win-win, since if no one sees it, no one clicks, and so there's no risk to advertisers for costly duds, and users are essentially voting the ads right into their viewscreen. I'm sure digg, like Google, protects its secret sauce as to how the balance works between floating up and in or down and out.

Word is that the revenue is starting to flow.

But what does Digg do when gamers game their system, as gamers always will? Do they discreetly spirit away the votes they count as fraud? What about their own motives, then, to disappear enough counts to increase the costs per click? How would we know the difference? Trust us, digg and Google say, we would never do you wrong.

But this is real money we're talking about now. How will you really ever know what gets promoted to your screen and why? Perhaps you don't really care. Perhaps you're happy to pay attention only to what the corporate sponsors want you to pay attention to. Except that you were drawn to digg in the first place because you thought that maybe the crowd would get to decide what gets raised to prominence, and that it might not be the same as what the Main Stream Media wanted you to know about.

Check out these simple screen shots. They are cookies-cleared sequential takes of tallys up on But you don't have to trust the sequence. It's the context which tells the story. Look at the differential among the three stories on the screen and see how it changes, relatively speaking.


So, has digg started paying attention to the business side of digg, or have they changed what voting means?

Transparency anyone? This looks like fraud to me!


Anonymous said...

I believe what you are seeing is the fact that your pageloads are being served by different backends that are talking to different memcached servers.

After the activity has died down, those numbers will probably be more in sync.

Anonymous said...

They don't have the same title. Those are two different ads, genius.

Anton Kast said...

I built the Digg Ads system, and I can tell you: The ads with different titles are different ads. Each has its own Digg and Bury counts, its own display frequency, and its own price.

I can see how this looks confusing. Thanks for pointing out the problem. I promise we'll think about it.

Lex said...

As always, grateful to be humbled, especially by anyone other from "anonymous"!!! Thanks!!