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Philip Lenssen at Google Blogoscoped has an interesting / outrageous article about Digg’s use of moderators – it seems that Digg has them, but is rather coy about admitting it.
Contrary to the approach favoured by Jason Calcanis at Netscape, Digg has always prided itself on being entirely user-driven, claiming that everything on the site is submitted and managed by the community.
Yet this is not remotely accurate...
The example given is from 2005, but shows a story which has been sent to the front page with only 1 ‘digg’. After a user questions this, 'kevinrose' replied that it was submitted by a moderator and therefore doesn’t need as many diggs.
There is nothing particularly wrong in using moderators – they are needed to prevent spam, racist, or other inappropriate articles – but, as Muhammed at The Mu Life points out, the lack of transparency is the problem, as Digg is widely believed to be entirely user-driven.
Incidentally, Muhammad’s post on this is up on Digg with a big red exclamation mark above it, warning readers that the ‘content in this article may be inaccurate’. It seems some of Digg’s users don’t appreciate the criticism.
And this is the big problem - users continue to abuse Digg's moderation tools, flagging up stories as inaccurate seemingly on the basis that they disagree with the author, rather than on factual grounds. Can users police Digg? No, so it needs moderators. Fair enough.
Has Digg stopped believing in the 'wisdom of crowds'? Some of us never did, of course. But where does this leave Digg exactly? We like it a lot, despite the blinkered views of its Mac-orientated user base: great web app, well executed, made the cover of Business Week.
But is it worth $150m? Is it worth a tenth of that?