Crowd Hacking on Digg

Next months issue of Wired Magazine has a nice article about "Crowd Hacking" and talks about Digg’s trouble with gaming the system. "Wag of the Finger" to Wired for not contacting me to talk about our recent experiment. In any case the full article is not available online until after 03.01.07 where you can read it here. Until then here is a preview and of course our unique commentary…

They cover all the classics including Spike the Vote, The Nerd’s Guide to Getting in Shape and User Submitter.

They highlight "4 Way to Manipulate the Mob" and they are as follows:

  • The Buddy System – Where users organize groups to vote up other members submissions. This is probably the biggest threat to Digg because they are difficult to track. Kevin Rose says they are looking for the basic patterns but a sophisticated group could easily behave like random users and fool any system.
  • Geek Baiting – Companies publish geek friendly articles to lure traffic to advertisement filled web sites and blog’s. This is where the classic "Blog SPAM!" flames in the comments section come from. Unfortunately now it seems like if the site contains any ads at all this flag gets raised over an eager Digg fanboy’s head. Those interested in doing this should probably read this first.
  • Network for Hire – Like in the in case of Geekforlife top Digg users are being approached to sell their profiles or promote stories. The majority of the top users are far too loyal to succumb such temptation I am sure! ;) (Send paypay requests to me@seanpercival.com)
  • Did I say 4? – The forth is about Ebay and so lets skip it!

Something interesting they bring up is the "Friend Adding Tool" that Jim Messenger also purchased and gave to Digg developers. Tools like this are used all the time for Myspace and with great success. I can see some benefits to a large Digg friend network but the "social" pieces of the site are under developed and under used. They then go into talks about del.icio.us and I nod off because that site has never really grabbed me.

In closing its pretty safe to say that this will always be an issue to some degree. Systems will improve on both sides but until the Digg demographic becomes inundated with "internet road kill" (think Myspace and AOL users) its user base will be strong enough to protect against most schemes.

"The result is an arms race:
The crowdhackers vs the developers and user who patrol the system"

Ratings: (on a scale of 1-5 hams)

  • Social Engineering
  • Black Hat’n
  • Giving Kevin Rose a Headache
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