The Revolution Will Not Be Dugg Down

This is one of the craziest things I've ever seen online. 

the community web site where users can upload stories and then
other users vote them up or down with the most popular stories forming
the highly trafficked home page, had a major revolt yesterday.

began when an article that contained the encryption key for the DRM
protection scheme of the new HD-DVD technology.  The article was
removed from the site with an explanation from a site official that
they were complying with a cease and desist order and that this post
violated Digg's Terms of Service.  The community was offended by this
(perceived?) censorship and began voting up a number of articles
containing the code (a 16 digit hex value) until
the entire Digg front page consisted of nothing but
stories about and/or containing the encryption code.  (Another wrinkle
that got people angry was that HD-DVD is a sponsor of the popular
Diggnation video podcast.)

initially reacted by banning the accounts of people posting these links
and removing the stories.  But the response was so overwhelming that
they reversed their position within a day. 

“But now, after seeing
hundreds of stories and reading thousands of comments, you’ve made it
clear. You’d rather see Digg go down fighting than bow down to a bigger
company. We hear you, and effective immediately we won’t delete stories
or comments containing the code and will deal with whatever the
consequences might be.”

(much of this write-up is based on the Wikipedia summary of the incident as well as a few other blog posts and Digg threads)

A lot of the Web
2.0 talk these days is about how the secret of online success is to
allow your users to create your content to make a valuable web site. 
People upload pictures to Flickr, bookmarks to Delicious, information
about themselves to Facebook.  But this incident shows the flip-side of
this equation and how quickly things can turn if you offend your users
for any reason (and how a mob mentality can develop as easily online as

People have long memories so it will be interesting to see what happens
to Digg in the weeks and months to come?  Will users come back?  Or has
it been permanently tainted by this breech of its users' trust?

(Oh, did I ever mention that Reddit is my favourite community news site and has been for a long time? )

Comments 4

  1. Anonymous wrote:

    I've been a power-Digger for a few months now, and at first the whole thing was kind of fun to watch, but the novelty wore off rather quickly and the whole ordeal became annoying.
    I didn't do much of anything on Digg but bury all of the HEX stories for a couple of hours, then stayed away most of yesteday, but am now back at full strength.
    I'm a little worried about the long-term effects, and hope that the trolls that caused all the commotion on Tuesday didn't scare off too many of the good users. We'll see.

    Posted 03 May 2007 at 12:56 pm
  2. Anonymous wrote:

    Interestingly this was reported in the Globe and Mail this morning. It wasn't front page news, but it was featured prominently in the Tech section of the website.
    Obviously if you are a digger you saw the news unfold live, but information outlets aren't for telling people what they saw. They are for telling people what they missed. It seems like old media is only 12 hours behind the blogosphere on a lot of major happenings. If they can keep up that pace and still provide a broad compendium of different topics and types of information, I would consider them to be fairly well adapted to the new digital landscape.

    Posted 03 May 2007 at 2:29 pm
  3. Anonymous wrote:

    Mike, I was surprised how quick, and how heavily the MSM picked up the story. I saw it on the front page of, and and a number of other large, respectable news sources.
    I watched both CNN and CNN-HN for an hour or so this morning hoping they'd have it on TV, but to no avail.

    Posted 03 May 2007 at 10:25 pm
  4. Anonymous wrote:

    I think that newspapers are more accustomed than television news to dealing with a wide spectrum of topics and interests — from breaking “hard” news to the funny-pages.
    It's been a while since I got my news from T.V., but I recall that they really only focussed on hard news and human interest stories with scheduled niche shows for sports, politics, business, etc. Maybe sports and entertainment highlights mixed into the regular news, but not much more than headlines.
    Newspaper editors and publishers, on the other hand, have always dealt with every section with at least capsules and usually with full stories. I'm not surprised that this appeared in newspapers so quickly, but not television. I'm sure that it will be discussed at length on CNN's weekly “Tech Report” show, whenever that is.
    Perhaps it is at least partly due to the nature of each medium. Television is linear or sequential access. One story always follows another. Newspapers (and websites) are random access, so readers can jump to their own niche(s) at any time. So can put up a story about Digg when the broadcast CNN can't fit it into the flow of information they are presenting.

    Posted 04 May 2007 at 1:57 am
%d bloggers like this: