I’ve been a Digg user since the beginning. Back in the days of the original Digg, Digg was the place for tech news. Stories broke on Digg before anywhere else, and the users always strived to find the most interesting stories. You could spend hours on Digg, learning about new and interesting things. It was the Slashdot Killer.
Somewhere over the past six months Digg has lost its way. Digg is no longer the place to read tech news, it’s the place to find out what’s going on, on the internet. It’s where you go to post the 50th “dupe” comment. It’s the site to vote down the good stories and digg the stories that have nothing but a picture. It’s where you go to argue Mac vs PC or Firefox vs Opera on every single story, whether its relevant or not.
I use to visit Digg to find out about tech news. I would read just about every single home page story, because it was all interesting. Since I joined and Digg has grown in numbers, you just don’t find those informative, interesting stories anymore. All you find is “ChEck out ths c00l Fl@sh game…”. Because of this lack of quality, I’ve decided I’m no longer going to be an active digger. My digging shovel is officially retired.
Ok I should be honest I’m not giving Digg up completely. I’m only going to be checking out the stories that I find interesting in the Digg front page RSS feed. I’m also going to continue listening to Diggnation, because face it, Diggnation is hilarious. But, when it comes to things like monitoring Digg Spy, those days are over.
So why the sudden change? I’ve realized something. When you have a site like Digg, which gives users complete control, abuse is imminent. The Average Joe is an idiot and can’t tell the difference between a good story and a story that’s complete BS. If one person says a story is crap, you instantly have ten people backing him, because everyone just plays follow the leader. There’s a reason why websites have editors; it’s because the user never knows what they want. I’ve seen stories on Digg get voted lame one week, and the next week the story is the most popular story. Complete control is a failure in the hands of idiots.
So, if I’m done with Digg what am I switching to? Newsvine. Why is Newsvine better? It’s better because it does not give complete control to its users. The bulk of the intelligence behind the site isn’t users, it’s smart programming. Now to understand how the programming works you first need to understand what’s on the site.
The site is split into two, Associated Press articles and what they call The Vine. AP articles are automatically inserted into the website, while The Vine is a combination of user’s articles and seeded links. User’s articles are written directly on the site about a recent event, a hot topic, or just an opinion. Seeded links are in a way similar to Digg, because users scour the internet for interesting stories and then submit them to Newsvine.
In both cases, the Vine and AP articles are automatically managed by the website. The website figures out how the articles should rank by a number of factors. The freshness of the story, how many times people view the article, and how many people vote for the article are all factors which go into the rating. Did I just say vote? Yes, that’s correct. You can vote (and report) articles just like Digg; but since the votes aren’t the only factor, stories are less likely to be subject to user stupidity. This system works very well, and just because no one has voted for the story, doesn’t mean it won’t be the top story.
Besides the improved quality of stories, there are a number of reasons why Newsvine trumps Digg. First of all, Newsvine isn’t just tech. Newsvine is more like your typical news website. You’ll find politics, sports, and, yes, technology. Newsvine also reads like a typical news website. The stories aren’t sorted by date, they’re sorted by relevance. The biggest story is the first story listed, and includes a picture, just like any other news site.
Another reason why I love Newsvine is you don’t have to leave the site to read most articles (only seeded articles are not within the site); the articles appear within the familiar Newsvine interface. Another neat thing is the articles aren’t just text. Often on AP articles you’ll find photos complete with captions of the event, and on certain stories you can even find video and audio clips of the event. This additional content enhances the story, and helps to give you a complete picture of what’s going on.
Finally, Newsvine is owned and operated by a bunch of web designers from major news sites. The founders of Newsvine have all come from websites such as ESPN and ABC News. Since they come from major news sites, they know what needs to be done to keep users under control. They’ve all dealt with large scale systems, and have the skills to make Newsvine a reality. They’re not going to let Newsvine follow the path of Digg.
Now I should mention, currently Newsvine is in a closed beta. This is because all of the moderation systems aren’t fully implemented and certain things still need tweaking. While this may seem like a turn off, I think it’s great. The people who have been invited to Newsvine are dedicated to making it a success. Due to that fact, stories are interesting, comments provide additional information, and the overall feel of Newsvine is optimistic. If you’re interested in joining Newsvine, let me know. I have a few invites, but I’m only going to give them out if I feel you’re going to help make Newsvine a success.