Well, the very first Digg Town Hall is over, and I think I can safely say that it isn’t likely to change anyone’s mind about the site one iota. If you’re a fan, and you think Kevin (Rose) and Jay (Adelson) are a couple of great guys with the site’s best interests at heart, then you will likely continue to believe that after the show. They do seem like nice guys with good intentions. If, on the other hand, you believe that they are out of their depth running the site, aren’t transparent enough about how they run it, or are too busy navel-gazing, then you’ll probably still think that after the show.
There were only 20 questions submitted — not much of a town, really — but some took up the bulk of the show and others were dismissed relatively quickly. One of the first things out of the gate (after some audio issues) was a statement from Jay that the site does not have anything like a group of “secret moderators” or editors who bury things or block people. All there is, he says, is a site admin whose job it is to remove porn links and other things that breach the terms of service (Kevin says he did that job for the first six months or so that the site was live and then they hired someone). And there are no “bury bots” or a “bury brigade.”
All there is, according to Jay and Kevin — but mostly Jay — is an algorithm or series of algorithms that are designed to maintain “diversity” on the site. In other words, designed to keep posts and links and comments and Diggs coming from as wide and diverse a group as possible. That’s why some links get more Diggs but still don’t get “promoted” to the front page, they explained — because too small a group of similar people are Digging it. It’s the same with burying, Jay notes: too many similar people burying something wouldn’t work either.
Among other things, the two said that they are working on the new comment system (expected by April, maybe), and are working on fixing the search and duplicate-finding functions, which they freely admitted were broken. And they are going to introduce support and other forums to respond directly to users. They also said they want to be more transparent — but then a few minutes later said they didn’t necessarily want to show who was burying things, and also said they couldn’t talk about what criteria they look at to determine “diversity” of Diggs or links, except to say that they look at “a lot of stuff.”
Tony Hung has some thoughts at Deep Jive Interests, and there’s an overview of the town hall here as well. Best line in the Mashable live-blogging chat (which they did with Keith McSpurren’s excellent CoverItLive) was an Oasis reference: “Is that Liam on the left, or Noel?” My friend MG Siegler of ParisLemon also has a good writeup at VentureBeat.