Digg has bait-and-switched its entire userbase by first offering the DiggBar as a URL-shortening service, but now redirecting all DiggBar created links to the Digg URL for the story, rather than to the root story and the word on the street is that the change is here to stay. In mid 2006, when Jason Calacanis, myself, and the Netscape team relaunched Netscape as a social news site, having the title links in our stories go to our permalink pages (which is pretty much the widely adopted internet standard) rather than to the source story was one of the largest criticisms hurled at us by the Digg crowd, who called us a Digg clone (ironic since by the same measure Digg is a Slashdot / Delicious clone). The other critiques were that we paid people to submit cool stories, and that we had a sidebar functionality via which you could view the source site in a panel on the right while maintaining access to our site in a sidebar on the left. It was a sort of NetscapeBar, if you will, and it had more functionality than DiggBar, although it didn’t shorten URLs.
In any case, AOL made the mistake of moving Netscape off to Propeller after Jason and I left, and the Netscape brand is nearly fully dead at this point, being simply another skin to AOL’s portal. So it’s been interesting to me, watching Digg begin to copy things that we did early on at Netscape. If we were ever a Digg clone, we were a clone of this future Digg that finds itself no longer king of the world of internet clicks and is therefore making choices that are clearly against its previous stance on “how things are supposed to work” all to try to remain relevant and continue to gain and grow its pageviews. Don’t get me wrong, I realize that Digg still commands a hefty audience and has had continual growth in audience, but if you look at charts like Compete and Alexia, you can see that what once was a steep upward trajectory has started to approach something closer to gentle incline recently. Add Twitter next to Digg in those services’ comparison charts and you’ll see why Digg is scrambling to remain relevant and continue to increase pageviews.
I never hear about stories breaking on Digg anymore. Digg was *really* hot in 2005-2007, because the crowd voting on stories acted as one of the quickest filters of all the noise and propelled stories that we should be reading into the limelight in what was very close to realtime.
However, now we have Twitter, Facebook, and Friendfeed. People don’t have to vote anymore. They simply Tweet or update their statuses, and, behold, there are trending topics with trending links. Digg is starting to be undone by realtime.
Yes, Digg is still huge. But it’s no longer the media darling it once was. Twitter is the new media darling. I doubt we’ll see Kevin Rose on the cover of magazines again any time soon.
Thanks for reading my rambling. You should really digg this, Prop it on Propeller, and retweet it too. ;-)