News of Digg Sale Brings Social Site's Failings into Focus
The news of social networking site Digg being sold for a mere half million dollars this week no doubt came as a shock to many people. Once worth $164 million, Digg's fall was swift and, given the passionate following the site once commanded, surely avoidable.
Digg had a great idea, with users voting on content and often pushing fringe stories into the national conversation. When it came to making users feel empowered, few did a better job. But the site eventually fell behind similar competitors (e.g. Reddit) and, according to Forbes' Jeff Bercovici, alienated its core followers with unpopular updates and thoughtless actions that showed a lack of concern with what users wanted.
It's interesting to contrast Digg with Facebook, which has also seen its share of controversial moves and site changes. While the switch to the "Timeline" profile page layout has frustrated legions of users (and many have voted with their feet), the site seems in no danger of losing its social media dominance. Perhaps it's a case of momentum, with so many ensconced in Facebook, and the same tendency that leads some to leave the site (dislike of change) causing even more to stay put with what is most familiar.
Or maybe its something else—for all the complaining, the altered features have not really stripped Facebook of its core appeal. Digg, on the other hand, seemed determined to deny users the very satisfaction that initially drew them to the site (allowing auto feeds on the site diluted the human-powered element, for instance). The exodus followed. Maybe Digg's co-founders thought the most important goal was to remain unique in an expanding universe of social media; instead, they should have built on their initial proposition.