A Beginner’s Guide to Community Driven Web Content

DiggBack in the day (like two years ago), “browsing” the Internet for news and information was usually limited to using search engines for finding something specific you needed or checking out your favorite sources for the latest news and stories. But that was/is problematic for two reasons: 1) search engines are calculated and cold and don’t always lead you to what you want 2) sticking to a few favorite sources narrows your exposure to what’s really happening around the world both on and offline.

Thankfully, in 2004, a solution was born called Digg, which created a whole new way of finding and sharing information. Digg calls itself a “user driven social content website.” Meaning, a voting system is in place whereby members (membership is free) of the community vote or “digg” content. Once a story (i.e. a link to a website) has received a certain number of diggs, it is promoted to the front page. Thus, content on Digg is not really original content. Rather, each story is a title with a brief description linking you to the website with the original content.

Digg’s content focuses primarily around news with categories ranging from technology to politics, though there are plenty of links to sites not necessarily news worthy even if interesting for other reasons. Since the idea was born of giving everyone and anyone a chance to contribute to a community website, the concept has taken off in just two short years. Digg is now considered one of the top 100 sites on the Internet and has caused a large following of many other “Digg-like” sites to sprout up.

Each of these second movers tries to do things “Digg-like” even if in their own way. Some have succeeded more than others, usually by offering new features or capitalizing on certain limitations Digg might have. All and all, a new breed of community driven web sites has been born. If you’re unfamiliar with this concept of community driven web content or user driven web content, Digg is probably the best place to start.

My next post will dive into the similarities and differences / pros and cons of some of the top community driven web sites that have arrived since Digg (including Digg itself).

  • Tom

    I would love to read your thoughts on what Digg should do next to stay ahead of the competition. A first mover advantage can disappear fast if the competition is more innovative and gives users more of what they want. (In this case that would probably be links to articles that are interesting to certain users.) One example is Reddit’s built-in recommender system, which makes it easier for users to find articles they care about by suggesting new articles based on other users with similar viewing habits. Do you see Digg moving in this direction? Do you see any drawbacks to adding an optional feature like this?

  • Bob

    I’m not sure if it’s feasible, but I have two suggestions for Digg:

    1) Separate out links to blog content vs. traditional media content. Perhaps have a way to sift through only blog content or only media content or the classic mix of both.

    2) Do something more about the duplicate problem… Though I’m not sure what’s needed, something creative.

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