The Great Digg Hypocrisy

I’m going to go out on a limb and say something which is going to be very unpopular.  Digg, as an entity, is a gigantic hypocrisy.  There.  I’ve said it.  Want me to prove it?  Here goes.

It begins with the Terms of Use.  Digg very clearly lays out in section 5 – USER CONDUCT -what they do and do not want in terms of use of the site.  There have been no shortages of bans for pointing to sites that could be seen as affiliate farms, but that is not my beef.  I take exception with item #9:

As a condition of use, you promise not to use the Services for any purpose that is unlawful or prohibited by these Terms of Use, or any other purpose not reasonably intended by Digg.

By way of example, and not as a limitation, you agree not to use the Services:

<snip>

9. with the intention of artificially inflating or altering the ‘digg count’, comments, or any other Digg service, including by way of creating separate user accounts for the purpose of artificially altering Digg’s services; giving or receiving money or other remuneration in exchange for votes; or participating in any other organized effort that in any way artificially alters the results of Digg’s services;

Right there, they make it very clear – do not, under any circumstances, try to inflate your digg count.  The most common manifestation of this sort of thing would be to mass email everyone you know to go digg your story.  This is where I take exception.

First, if all of those people already have a Digg account, what have you done wrong exactly?  I completely agree that if you are soliciting people to go create accounts with the sole intent of digging your story that you are in the wrong.  What if all of those people already have Digg accounts?  How is letting people know, via email, that you have written something of note, and asked them to vote on it?

Second, what if you are at a big company, like I am, and send email to the bulk of your social network.  Microsoft is a city unto itself, with the main campus encompassing close to 100 buildings and 90,000 employees worldwide.  If that is your social circle, that’s who you would tell, right?  But that would get you banned, and most probably would get the top level domain (in this case microsoft.com) banned as well.  Why?

If the spirit of the terms of use is to have users organically discover stories and submit them for digging, how then can Digg, or any of the self righteous community members, castigate you for emailing a list of people to go digg and article, but at the same time allow the myriad of blog plug-ins which promote Digg, and in fact make it one click simple to submit a story?  This is where the logic breaks down.  The number of WordPress Digg plug-ins is quite large.  In fact, as of the time of the writing of this posting, there are 87 Digg related plug-ins at WordPress.org.  You’re almost hard pressed to find blog postings without some form of “Digg This” widget.

You see, the hypocrisy is that Digg wants, and in fact profits from, the pervasiveness of the Digg widgets, and they are OK with you having them on your posting.  What they are not OK with is you somehow marshalling your tribe via email, versus your RSS feed.  My guess is that they view this as an implicit ask to digg versus an explicit ask.  Regardless of how you look at it, you are in fact breaking the TOU by having that link there.  Whether you broadcast via email or RSS, what’s the difference?  You are asking for Digg votes.

I would love for someone to poke a hole in my argument and tell me I am wrong.  A well reasoned argument is far preferable to “it’s just not the same dude.”

  • I am not sure as you could see my site as an affiliate farm. I only sell one poster.

  • Brandon Watson

    I wasn’t classifying your site as affiliate farm, but only mentioning that you had been banned as such.

  • Then you probably shouldn’t link to my site using the word affiliate farms.