Tinfoil hat alert: Digg has secret editors!

by Mathew on January 17, 2008 · 9 comments

Must be a slow news day over at Valleywag, where Owen Thomas is trotting out the old “Digg has secret editors” meme again (not only that, but it has the laughable “Exclusive!” tag). According to Owen, a top-secret source — let’s called him Deep Digg, in Watergate style — was approached for a job at the social-news site, and was given the inside dope on the secret cabal known as the Illuminati. Oh, sorry; wrong conspiracy.

Deep Digg was apparently told about how each topic at Digg has a secret ringleader known as a “moderator” (part of Digg’s appeal is clearly the arcane titles that the Enlightened Ones use; plus I hear they wear silk capes and get to twirl their moustaches). The moderator not only looks for spam and obvious morons, but gets to “adjust the criteria to make it easier or harder for a story to make it big” (gasp!) and this means that they… wait for it… “exercise editorial judgment.” Eleventy-one!

Of course, this was confirmed over a year ago now. Owen then trots out the old straw man about how this means Digg has “failed to match its aspirations as a perfect democracy of news,” something I don’t recall anyone ever claiming it was. This is similar to the shock and horror that Nick Carr and others express at the notion that Wikipedia has a “cabal” of insiders who edit articles and block disruptive people and so on.

Why is that so terrible? It makes sense — and far from being a negative from a business point of view, as Owen tries to convince us it is, it’s actually a positive. About the only thing I can agree with him on is the fact that they could be a bit more transparent about it, if only so that we don’t have to read any more breathless exclusives.

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