Digg It: Streamlined Revival

Digg It: Streamlined Revival

A few weeks back I revisited some formerly popular websites that, while still kicking, had lost some of their fame and luster. StumbleUpon was my first mention despite its still-strong e-population. I compared the socially-charged sharing hub with Reddit, a nucleus of user-generation.

If I were to have focused on a true fallen website in that vein, I would’ve penned about Digg. Instead, I went to StumbleUpon due to my familiarity with the semi-random format. I hadn’t voluntarily visited Digg since its redesign in 2010. The website’s v4 release left a sulfuric taste in many mouths. Chaos, confusion, disdain, and disappointment ran supreme on the former champion of social news. Y’know the saying, “If it ain’t broke, put down the hammer. You’re going to hurt someone; probably yourself. Oh, and don’t fix it.”

Digg’s desire to improve did anything but. Digg was buried.

Betaworks found a shovel and duct tape. Digg had returned. Would its rise from the grave yield a fully-functional website, or are the remains- though mobile- decaying rapidly?

Dramatic recreation of Betaworks in action.

Dramatic recreation of Betaworks in action.

Those who enjoyed Digg’s glory days would be unable to recognize their former bookmark save for the familiar favicon. This was plastic surgery. The familiar green and blue had been replaced by a standard black and white. The layout resembled a grid compared to its classic list setup. Several features were gone only to be replaced by curious ones.

Compare this with the current incarnation and see if you can spot the differences. (Hint: EVERYTHING.)

Compare this with the current incarnation and see if you can spot the differences. (Hint: EVERYTHING.)

Loyal users of the classic composition may label this their New Coke, but I see it differently. To me, this is a before-and-after Jenny Craig commercial; an entity’s comfort level allowed gorging and an unwanted transformation. The glimpse into the mirror, a “what have I become?,” and the tools to rise from the ashes have culminated in a streamlined, positive user experience.

Interface and Purpose

As shown above, Digg’s old interface threw everything at you in one go; you had options for sorting, different categories to peruse, buttons galore, and no indication on where to start. In the attention deprived and generally depraved world of the internet, this seemed to work well. The layout wasn’t so helter-skelter as to disallow newbies, even if that’s what some hardcore users would’ve preferred, but it did make for an eclectic front page.

The new UI narrows the scope significantly. Digg has rid itself of organized topics, the ability to sort by date, and practically all buttons but Digg, Save, and Share. And it’s better off for it.

Digg’s new look comes with a sleek objective: showcase the most popular stories as determined by all the web and that’s it. The website is now split between Top Stories, Popular, and Upcoming. What’s the difference between the first two? “Top Stories” relates to approval across the internet- what’s being shared, searched for, talked about, etc.- and is monitored to rid redundancy and promote intrigue. “Popular” groups the top “dugg” stories on Digg itself while showing a minimalist graph about the link’s traffic over an 18-hour span. “Upcoming” lists recently submitted stories for users to read, share, or ignore.

But what of the Digg button? The defining feature of the site- akin to Facebook’s “like” and Reddit’s “upvote” links- is still alive and well, although it might be a bit augmented. Instead of the number beside the iconic icon relating solely to diggs, the digit represents an amalgamation of Facebook shares/shares, tweets, and diggs. Digg is truly trying to grasp the pulse of the social networking world. Now that I mention it:

Social Aspect and Optimism

No comments. I don’t mean that as someone refusing to offer a quote to a reporter. No, I mean that there is no place to comment on the new Digg.

How’s that work for a social news site?

While the FAQ mentions trying to perfect a way to utilize comments, I say, “Good riddance!” The ability to discuss a story, image, and the like is on practically every type of website there is.

*Speaking of which, feel free to comment on Hobbes Lives!*

Shameful shill complete, but my point is this: do we really enjoy commenting on every little nugget we stumble across? Do you not cringe when hanging out with someone who has a remark after every sentence said? How many times do you have to read “lol” on a Facebook post before it hits you that these people actually had nothing to say but just the will to have your attention for that millisecond?

Anyone who has spent more than a minute reading YouTube comments should be jubilant over Digg’s lack of user discussion, but that’s not the only source of sanguinity. Everyone who has clamored for a “dislike” button on Facebook would’ve been pleased with old Digg’s “bury” icon. This gave users the option to make or break a story, and it was more abused than a fastball to Prince Fielder.

If that ball didn't already have stitches, yeesh.

If that ball didn’t already have stitches, yeesh.

The inability to bury has become a subconscious plea for positivity on an otherwise-dismal e-landscape. Losing the potential for racism, bigotry, and disorganized spite is a step in the right direction. What other social news site offers that sense of optimism? You might say that Buzzfeed offers several feel-good stories, but that gets me to my next point:

Attribution

Let’s use a recent meme as an example:

tumblr_mhcy1fSmLv1qeztgvo1_1280

 

Funny, right? But what about these greeting cards created beforehand:

 

BenKlingCards

Is the internet so lazy as to not develop their own jokes, but just ambitious enough to toss proper acknowledgement into the trash heap to pretend their cleverness was not thieved? The Valentine’s cards were created by Ben Kling (you can find those and more on his page). The meme above was created by some schmuck with nothing better to do than add a red filter, plain white text, and invisible credit to Kling.

And that’s the former and current beauty of Digg: all of its links go to the source. This allows for the original article creator to receive proper merit. With web hits and ad views as the main dictator of income for those who work on the internet, these direct links show Digg as a worthwhile news hub.

That’s where Buzzfeed comes in. Though the site offers some original content ranging from interesting (a collection of oddball dating sites) to the entirely-pointless (celebrity tweets that offer nothing unique), there are times when the site doesn’t come collect.

If Buzzfeed didn’t make a dime on anything they do, then this story about copyright infringement wouldn’t pound a nerve, but it shows that Buzzfeed likes to wade in the gray area of “fair use” on the internet. Yet, there are times that even Buzzfeed’s attribution doesn’t go to the proper source, or they decide to post the entire story/content from a user’s bread-’n-butter to completely nullify any reason to visit the original site. A recent collection of literal football interpretations by Pixar’s Austin Madison was completely posted by Buzzfeed. Their citation link led to another news collection site that lacked a link to Madison’s website.

Going through multiple clicks without reaching the source is atrocious to anyone trying to reel in some money or attention on the internet, and Digg thankfully avoids that schlock.

Summation

Digg isn’t what it once was, and that comes with both good and bad. If you have the time to plod through an anarchic cavalcade of links and helpful-to-hurtful comments, then maybe Reddit and Buzzfeed are for you. If, like me, you want a streamlined experience with news and compelling stories on the internet, you’ve found your spot with Digg. It took a while for me to jump back on board, but there’s plenty of room.

Like the late, great “Macho Man” Randy Savage would say:

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