3/26/2006

Digg.com Acts Like A Bully

Filed under: — By Aviran Mordo @ 8:20 pm

Digg.com is getting cocky and banning small web sites just because digg’s users submit them to digg and digg’s moderators don’t like it. Aviran’s Place is the latest victim of Digg’s “We are big, you are small and we can do whatever we want? attitude.

In response to people’s questions, that noticed that digg does not accept any more links from this site here is the full story.

First some background.
If you are a regular reader of this blog you already know that Aviran’s Place brings you top quality, technology related news from around the net. Due to the nature of this site (and the fact that I don’t own a news department that works for me) most of the posts on Aviran’s Place are excerpts from other sites around the net. If a post is an excerpt from another site, the source of the post is always stated in the article and gets the credit it deserve. Not all the posts in this site are taken from other sites, some of them are taken from press releases and some are original.

During the year and a half that this site exists, Aviran’s Place broke several news stories (1, 2, 3, …), scooped all other media outlets and got cited by the major technology news web sites such as News.com, Slashdot.org, Microsoft-Watch and many more (and yes that is also include several appearances in digg.com home page and several features on diggnation).

The history of Aviran’s Place and digg.com
Let me start with a little history between Aviran’s Place and digg. I’m a strong supporter of digg.com and since Aviran’s Place was one of the first sites to integrate social bookmarking links in the site, it was only natural that a “submit to digg? button will be as part of the social bookmarks links. In addition to that I noticed that my site is being dugg from time to time so I also wrote a digg this plugin for Wordpress, which automatically links back to the story submitted on digg.

So what went wrong?
Things went very good for a long time. People submitted stories to digg and if digg’s users found a story interesting it would get promoted to the front page. However sometimes people would submit a story excerpt from Aviran’s Place instead of the original story, although the source of the excerpt is always mentioned.

Being an active member of the digg community I know that this happens allot with other sites. People will submit links to blogs or other sites that are not the actual source of the story but only bring an excerpt from the source. I guess when you read a site and find an interesting article it is easier to link the site that you are currently on than to go and look for the source. This is especially true if you have a submit button just like I have on the site, which makes submitting very easy and fast.

However most of these stories don’t get promoted to the home page, just like Kevin Rose said once in an interview that digg users will usually promote the source of the story and not the sites that quote the source.

Let’s get to the point
Last week one of digg’s users submitted a link to a story posted on Aviran’s Place. This story was originated from InformationWeek, which an excerpt was posted here. Digg users found this story interesting and promoted it to digg’s home page. To fight spam, a story has to be approved by digg’s moderator in order to be posted on the home page (although they want you to believe it is a fully automated system this is not the case). The Digg’s moderator noticed that the link does not point to the source of the article and changed the link to the actual source. So far I don’t have any problem with that (unless you take in to account that they don’t tell you that, and they state that the users are the editors and there is no editorial interference from digg).

However digg’s moderator decided that since the link pointed to my site and the post was an excerpt from InformationWeek, Aviran’s Place should be banned from digg and no other links from aviransplace.com can be posted to digg.

Digg’s response
This action by digg came to my attention after one of Aviran’s Place’s reader notified me, saying he tried to submit a link to digg and digg did not allow him to do so.

I contacted digg to find out what happened and why they blocked my site. The response I got from them was that my site violated their terms of use, by copying another site. I explained to them that it is not Aviran’s Place who violated digg’s TOS, but it is the user who submitted the story to digg and linked to my site instead of the real source, hence I should not be punished for someone else’s action.

The response I got was that they do not allow sites that copy other sites to be submitted to digg. I again tried to reason with them saying that: one, although I admit that most of the content on my site is excerpts from other sites, the source of the article always gets the credit, the posts are in most cases not a complete copy of the article, but a summary or a quote of a couple of paragraphs and always never a complete copy of the article. Second there is also original content to my site which in some cases, as I mentioned in the beginning of this post, are breaking news that no other news outlet discovered or published before.

In addition to that I told them that according to their rules they should also ban Yahoo news, since it does not have an original content but republish articles from PCWorld, Reuters, MACWorld and others. Also falls under this category other major sites like neowin.net, blink.nu and many more that are doing exactly the same. But hey, they are big sites and digg can’t pick on them without repercussion, like they can pick on small blogs that try to establish themselves.

Also I’ve noted that knowing digg’s community if digg users found my post worthy of being promoted instead of the original article, it might be due to the fact that I don’t have the full article but only the most relevant parts of the article, which they are interested in. If digg’s content is really determined by the users like they state clearly on the site they should not have any problem with that. Digg users are not stupid and will not promote a story that is a copy of the source unless they find it to be better or better summarized.

Not even this explanation could persuade digg’s moderator to reverse his decision.

So what have we learned?

  • Digg’s users don’t really determine what gets promoted, but digg’s moderators do.
  • Digg have a different set of rules for small site and different rules for big sites, even though both are doing the same.
  • Digg will ban a small site just because one of its user’s submitted an article that other digg members liked and promoted, but moderator didn’t like the link.
  • Digg will not listen to reason when told that the site did not violate its TOS, but the user who submitted the link did. They will ban the site thus hearting its reputation, instead of ban or warn the user who submitted a link that violates their TOS.

This is it for now, let me know what you think



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20 Responses to “Digg.com Acts Like A Bully”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    It’s kind of pretentious from a site like digg that does not generate any content of its own to judge other sites that actually generate content.

  2. Ken Says:

    As much as I like digg, I don’t think they should block sites. Like they in the about statement “With digg, users submit stories for review, but rather than allow an editor to decide which stories go on the homepage, the users do.”, and it should be up to the users to digg or not to digg a post. This is just wrong. Shame on you digg for blocking sites, I thought you were better than this.

  3. Joen S Says:

    Bloggers beware from the wrath of Digg :0

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Power to the people

  5. Jibran Ilyas Says:

    As much as I love digg and support their projects, I am really disappointed to see this from them. As one anonymous poster said, its ironic that digg would ban sites with ‘not all’ original content, as digg.com itself has ‘recommened’ links.I am hoping they will reverse the decision and yes, i believe they owe you an apology.

    I visit this blog and digg every day; sometimes, i read the news here first and sometimes on Digg. I like your tools collection, your editorials and the neat tricks on your website, whereas for digg.com, i like discussing the news there.

    Digg.com team: If you are reading, I hope you realize that banning sites and taking control away from users is something that the users would rather not see. As a digg user, i request that you reverse your decision and let their be no hitches in spreading the news. I wish well for both digg and aviran place and I wish the two sites wish well for each other too :)

  6. Andre Says:

    Censorship?

  7. Jil Says:

    Not cool Digg

  8. Matt K Says:

    This is a pretty one sided article. Digg is just trying to give credit to the people who derserve it. And it is the Digg users that promote the stories the moderators are just there to avoid spam. And yahoo news states thier sources.

  9. Digg.com Is Silently Moderating Legitimate Submissions @ Alice Hill’s Real Tech News - Independent Tech Says:

    […] Alice Adds: Here is another from FoereverGeek site that got banned for bringing this up. And there’s another look at the issue here from Splasho - another blog that got banned. Spoke too soon…here is yet another case of it from a guy who actually wrote the “Digg This” plugin for WordPress, Aviran’s place. He calls his posting Digg.com is a bully. Share and Enjoy:These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. […]

  10. Yet Another Linux Blog Says:

    The Dirt on Suspicious Digging at Digg.com

    It seems that being one of the top 500 visited websites in the world has gone to Digg.com’s head. Users are reporting that some articles that are submitted are being dugg by the same users in the same exact order to up their digg rating to get th…

  11. Jil Says:

    Petition to Kevin to stop banning sites
    http://www.petitiononline.com/diggban/petition.html

  12. Mike Says:

    Why is inflamatory journalism like this tolerated. This is one person’s experience. A blacklist is the best method to prevent spam, the terms of use clearly state that links to blogs will not be accepted the policy to to prevent websites from using digg as a promotion tool. Enough submissions that contained links to this site were reported that the site was added to a blacklist. This site is a blog it was reported, therefore it is not accepted regardless of who is at fault. Its a countermeasure to those who register multiple usernames to artificially digg sites as a promotion tool.

  13. cw Says:

    It’s because your website is ugly.

  14. Ken B Says:

    I sent two emails to digg asking them to release this site, but they did not respond. I guess they don’t really care about their users.

  15. KilleRabbit Says:

    Help Unban Aviran’s Place From Digg
    http://www.aviransplace.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?topic=306&forum=2

  16. Channel Says:

    digg is not the only site you’re about to upset.

    read your google ads T and C’s

  17. Joshua Says:

    yes i agree!!
    http://2lsat.info/sitemap.htm

  18. Chris Says:

    Now is Digg more popular than Slashdot these days?

  19. Aaron Davis Says:

    I experienced something similar with Digg.com a while back when I wrote an article at ezinearticles.com about Linux vs. Windows. The post actually made it to the home page and within hours ezinearticles.com was banned from the site. The difference here is that there were no references to other source and there were no other sources used in the article.

  20. Chris Says:

    Your blog is in competition with digg, as both your site and digg “re-use” other content with some value added. So don’t be surprised if digg does not want to help the competition. That’s the essential reason. It may manifest itself in indirectly written policy statements and such, but that is irrelevant. A news aggregator such as digg wants to aggregate from original sources, not send traffic to other intermediaries.

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