Making Money from Digg: Gaming the System
The rapid rise of Digg.com, a social bookmarking, blogging and syndication website may hit a new snag. The idea of Digg is that users submit stories of interest, and registered members can vote stories up to the top of the list for others to read. The community becomes the editorial voice. A new site has come along that may lead to Digg's demise.
Individuals and website publishers submit stories in the hopes that they will be voted to the top. The so-called "Digg effect"— making it to page one of the Digg.com website—brings an avalanche of traffic that has been known to bring down websites that are unprepared for the onslaught of traffic.
Digg has known controversy, most recently surrounding a select group of power-users who manage to advance many of their stories to the front page by promoting and voting among themselves in a sort of cabal.
According to Wikipedia, "in July 2006, it was reported that the top 100 Digg users controlled 56% of Digg's frontpage content, and that a niche group of just twenty individuals monopolized 20% of the frontpage content."
Despite the accusations that the site is not entirely democratic, there's no question that this novel form of news publishing is extremely popular, albeit prone to some innaccuracies. But the system does have a built in balance in the Comments section, where users can dispute the facts of a story, and vote towards labeling the story as possibly inaccurate.
A new website called User/Submitter has now emerged, and may threaten the usefulness of Digg even further. The site allows users to make money from Digg by "digging" stories at a rate of 10 cents per story. The site offers to pay Diggers via PayPal account. Publishers pay $20 plus $1 per digg to have their own stories promoted. From the site:
Where Digg Submitters Pay for Digg Users to Promote their Stories. And, Where Digg Users Make Easy Money.
The site warns Digg users who attempt to bury all stories from U/S: "Those wanting to bury all stories coming from U/S, note that 80% of the stories are randomly selected from Digg. Some sets are entirely random."
Due to the poor design of the website, its legitimacy has been called into question by some observers. As with many other new systems on the Internet, this development could be the start of a new cat and mouse game, similar to that of spam filters and their fight against spammers, with each side building countermeasure improvements to their systems with each step.