Recently, Kevin Rose felt compelled to speak out and explain Digg’s stance behind blocked sites and the so-called “bury brigade” which has been the subject of much attention lately in the blogosphere. The blogosphere regularly and often unreasonably attacks Digg with inaccurate evidence and unfounded claims because of their failure to look at any “scandalous” situation from another perspective. So it’s time to cut through the spin and explain why Digg won’t make buries transparent.
I was the first advocate for the transparency of buries back when Digg first implemented the bury button, because of my philosophy that if you are to disclose who is digging stories, then you must disclose who is burying stories. My reasoning being that one bury report was clearly carrying more weight in the promotion algorithm than one digg was. I realized that buries by users not only carried the convenience of anonymity but furthermore the veil of secrecy, which made the feature a haven for irresponsible and abusive actions by community members. Because of the secrecy behind buries, the community lacked the ability to monitor and expose bury abuse, like they can with digging abuse. However, it wasn’t long before I realized that making buries transparent will do more harm than good as Digg crosses the chasm into mainstream culture.
Transparency is a term that is to quickly tossed around by many, as the end all solution for everything in social networking, without actually looking at the ramifications it may have on each particular issue. I’ve long known the reason Digg does not make buries transparent is because it further exposes the logic behind their promotion algorithm. Further understanding, by the community, of their promotion algorithm will inevitably lead to greater manipulation of their system, and makes it even more difficult for them to prevent such malicious gaming attempts that they find themselves battling on a daily basis.
Kevin’s words reinforce my contention:
For the same reason that we donâ€™t expose all of our back-end methodologies for the Digg promotional algorithm, we also donâ€™t expose the details of how the burying algorithm works. We spend a lot of time analyzing our data and understanding how people Digg and bury content. We have spent the last 2.5 yrs building systems that ensure a diverse group of users promote or bury stories.
Ultimately, the greater transparency Digg permits for their promotion algorithm, the easier it will be for Digg gamers to develop stronger methods of promoting content to Digg’s front page illegitimately without detection.
Originally posted on March 5, 2007 @ 1:40 am