Is Digg the future or just a feature?

by Mathew on March 8, 2007 · 7 comments

No matter how you slice it, getting to a million registered users is a pretty impressive achievement for Digg, a service that Kevin Rose and Jay Adelson and a couple of others started as a lark after TechTV shut down and Kevin was looking for something to do. It may be true that the million number has a lot of holes in it, as some of the commenters over at TechCrunch have pointed out — multiple accounts, etc. — but still impressive nonetheless.

kevin rose.jpg A year ago, Digg had about 200,000 registered users, which means the user base has increased five-fold since then. Some of that could be a result of Digg’s branching out into topics other than just technology, but I still get the impression that the vast majority of what gets submitted to Digg — and certainly what makes it to the front page — is technology-related (I haven’t seen any data, that’s just a hunch). And Pete Cashmore at Mashable takes issue with the one million number too, in a post entitled “Kevin Rose Fan Club Signs Up One Millionth Member.” Louis Gray has some other numbers from other Web 2.0-type services, including StumbleUpon and delicious, both of which have over a million registered users.

The question in my mind is: how much bigger can Digg possibly grow? Could it get to two million users? Maybe. StumbleUpon.com is getting close to that. Could it get to five million or 10 million? I’m not so sure — especially if it continues to be mainly focused on technology, and the user community continues to be dominated by a particular type of fanboy/nerd/hoodlum personality the site has become notorious for fostering. Frantic Industries has a good post about Digg and the million mark here.

I think Digg-style features make sense for all kinds of sites, including things like Dell’s IdeaStorm. But whether the site itself is destined to get much bigger remains an open question. What do you think?

  • http://engtech.wordpress.com engtech

    I think we’ll see more and more nichification as it becomes easier and easier to create sites like digg.

    I saw a great post a while back that interviewed some of the people who create these social web20 apps and they were all only using 3-5 different sites themselves… so with further nichification it’ll get to the point where the rate of new users is greatly diluted by the amount of competition for their attention.

  • http://wow.jules.ca jules

    Hey there Matt,
    I struggle with Digg. I try to like, I try to appreciate it, I try to use it. I end up getting discouraged by people who have dugg something just to get the story to the top of the listing, or the repetitiveness of top stories. Perhaps I’m not consistent enough in my use, and I’ve given up too easy? I’m not yet convinced that a high digg number is an indication of value.

  • Mathew

    I think you’re probably right, Engtech. And Jules, I share your pain — I have struggled with Digg as well. I definitely still get value out of it, but it seems as though the signal to noise ratio continues to get lower instead of higher.

  • http://www.webomatica.com/wordpress/ Webomatica

    It seems as more and more people pile into digg, it gets lke a big city. The percieved anonimity makes people get more anti-social, and it’s more tempting to “game”.

    I still find it entertaining. But even I, who used to go there every day, have dialed down to logging in once a week. I subscribe to the RSS rather than visit.

  • http://www.shawnblog.com/ Shawn Honnick

    It’s a feature–just look how many other sites are already doing the same or similar things. I can’t wait to see the first government sites that allow residents to really participate in government using these features. I was actually just thinking about that on the drive home yesterday.

  • http://www.hmtk.com HMTKSteve

    Until Digg reins in the bury brigades and other areas where the tyranny of the minority thwarts the will of the majority Digg has no real future.

  • http://owenbyrne.com Owen Byrne

    Hey, thanks for “a couple of others” (sincerely). As one of those people I keep hoping that some Canadian journalist will do enough research to discover that one of those “others” is Canadian, and that most of the early coding was done in Halifax, NS.

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