5 Signs Digg Has Peaked (and Is Now Declining)

I have noticed several signs in the past few months that Digg has jumped the shark. Any one of these signs alone might be an aberration, but taken together I think they signify that Digg has peaked, and is now beginning a slow, gradual decline.

  1. First we had a mass exodus of many of the best users when the ‘top users’ function was removed.
  2. A user revolt (on account of a hand job) brought the Digg administration to its knees. Their credibility could now be questioned from multiple angles.
  3. The ‘bury rate’ continues to rise (it now appears the majority of stories on upcoming/most get buried rather than making it to the homepage); I understand they want to prevent commercial content getting to the homepage but in the process they are also preventing anything remotely controversial from gaining traction, and what good is a social media site without controversial content?
  4. The Digg Effect isn’t what it used to be. Rand Fishkin noticed that Digg sends less traffic these days and I can confirm this from stats on my own sites.
  5. Aaron Wall notes that after training its user base to be highly hostile to commercial content, Digg now plans to extend its platform to restaurant and product reviews. Somehow I don’t see this being well-received. :-)

Now let me repeat, I am not saying ‘Digg is dead’, only that after an initial highly accelerated growth path, it has peaked and will now slowly decline. The guys over there built a really killer app but then squandered much of is business potential because of bad decisions (and a lack of common business sense). As a marketer I believe this is a good thing, with social media we don’t want a situation like in search where one player controls 70% of the market. I would rather depend on getting my traffic from 25 niche social media sites instead!

p.s. Digg thanks for the memories (a few hundred homepage stories, a few million visitors and half a million inbound links to various sites when the going was good) ;-)

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#1 brand1m on 06.08.07 at 9:26 am

I’m not sure if this was the initial shark jump or not - maybe it was the finding of the shark, but I think much of this started when Rose was featured on the cover of Businessweek.

Bragging about the [theoretical] money goes against what DIGG was molded as. DIGG was always this grassroots us against the man type of site. To me, that cover made it seem more like Rose was laughing at the user base, instead of being “one of the guys”.

People like you more when they feel like you are doing something simply because you like them. Sure they realize you make money off ads, but when you brag and smirk about it, it just doesn’t sit right.

#2 blogstorm on 06.08.07 at 11:21 am

The main issue with Digg is that a lot of stories are from Arstechnica, Engadget, TechCrunch & Gizmodo. Most Diggers subscribe to the RSS feeds for these sites so by the time the posts get to the front page of Digg everybody knows the news anyway.
Digg will only do well in the long term by either letting stories hit the homepage faster or focussing on non news items.

#3 JeremiahJMitchell on 06.08.07 at 12:15 pm

blogstorm said almost everything I was going to say.
I’ve found that lately I rarely if ever use any of the Digg RSS feeds. I’ve unsubscribed from all but the technology section, most of the other sections are just links to sites where I have a RSS subscription already setup.
Seems like this has been a very recent change since the whole ‘revolt’. IMO digg is on the way down, I doubt it will ever completely die.

#4 Marc on 06.08.07 at 12:50 pm

I tend to agree that Digg is on the decline, but I hope they can turn the ship around.

Digg and StumbleUpon are two of my favorite social media sites which actually provide value.

And you have presented the reasoning in a very logical manner… … even stoned Kevin Rose will understand.

#5 xooMan on 06.08.07 at 9:57 pm

I have noticed that traffic from Digg is pretty low-quality. The majority just come and go.

#6 kibono on 06.09.07 at 8:17 am

Yeah, it is sad to see it die a slow death. But on the other hand I think you will see even more focused niche sites popping up in the near future that narrows it even further than the 25 sites you mention in one of your posts . Akin to a category within a category. Just as an example http://tipshack.com which focuses on ubuntu only tips, tricks, tutorials and news. Even that could get more narrowed but at the cost of less traffic. Just my thoughts.

#7 dshah on 06.10.07 at 11:53 am

I wrote an article on this very topic (the shift towards niche social news sites):

Let A Million Diggs Bloom