And it is so simple. There is nothing to it! I always thought Twitter was a website dedicated to nothing but a Facebook-style status update marquee, and I turned out to be right. I also thought it was a dull concept, but this is where I was completely wrong.
Ok, so I’m a little late to this whole Twitter thing. The website has been going for years and is now receiving a lot of attention from the mainstream media (a few nods on hip TV shows and the flocks of reporters wetting themselves over being an early adapter to the new Internet fad). 90% of you reading this probably have had a Twitter account for awhile now and have melded it into your daily lifestyle.
I can already see who the Twitterheads are on my follower/following lists, they’re filling up my tweet pages with one-liners. It’s great that upon creating my account I was able to add in contacts from various other networks. I felt right at home as soon as I was logged in for the first time, welcomed by many familiar faces and a veritable cornucopia of thoughts, ideas, and other random content. Why did I hold out for so long before joining?
This is just another one of those Web 2.0 creations that is changing the way the Internet works. We’re sharing what we find interesting with our tweets. We’re discovering new information and link destinations through the tweets of others. I’ve already found some new music, a few cool websites, and a great place to get a haircut through Twitter. We’re communicating with each other on a completely different level than we were just a few years ago. It’s all more streamlined and somehow more personal.
But let’s get back to the simplicity factor, it’s true…there is almost nothing here. My profile, all profiles are minuscule compared to most any other social network or web forum out there. Other than your tweets, the only aspects of yourself the world gets to see is your name, a tiny picture, and a bio that condenses the entirety of yourself into a single line. The tweets themselves can be no longer than your average post-it note.
All of that simplicity is just a veil though, hiding a social network that is as deep and addictive as any other. Privacy is thrown out the window as people write on twitter to share their lives and promote themselves and the creativity and beauty they find in their everyday lives. Looking at the tweets of my friends, of celebrities, of random people…it’s all a mash up of lives that are expressed in what I can only call art. It’s beautiful in its own deranged, monotonous, and creative way.
Am I getting a little too reflective for you? I see something with Twitter that I don’t with MySpace, Facebook, Digg, Reddit, blogs, etc.. In Twitter’s simplicity and restriction to expression, we are creating something unique and interesting that the world hasn’t seen before. I’ll leave it at that and let you ponder on those thoughts.
I’ve been a Twitter user for under two hours and I think I may already be addicted (between this and StumbleUpon, I don’t know when I’ll get my writing done!). The Twitterverse is still new to me and there may still be some secrets left to explore; I might be compelled to do a followup article.
As many people have tried to figure out, the secret behind Digg’s Algorithm remains to this day a conundrum, a mystery, a secret clouded in obfuscation. Some great thinkers have of recent date conjured up the belief that it might not be a secret at all, and that for all the investigation, maybe a magic formula doesn’t really exist, at all. Perhaps it’s a great hoax, like the Wizard of Oz, a case of smoke and mirrors a pretense held up to keep to the world in the dark, when in actuality it’s just someone assigned to the role of wizard who makes decisions frivolously and on a whim with each and every new entry that is fed into the Digg news bank.
For those of you who are not aware, Digg is a social bookmarking website that offers participants (aka diggers) a way to discover and share content from anywhere on the Internet, by submitting links and stories where other diggers can vote the content up or down in a process respectively called digging and burying. Tens of thousands of stories are submitted daily, but only the most Dugg stories ever appear on the front page. So the obvious goal for diggers is to continuously make attempts at grasping at the illusive gold ring, every time they hop on the Digg-go-round. With its immense popularity, it has prompted the creation of other social networking sites like StumbleUpon, Reddit, Techorati and others to evolve based on a similar premise.
Other lines of algorithm speculation include those proposed by Rand Fishkin, euphemistically referred to as the Wizard of Moz, but who is in actuality the CEO and Founder of SEOmoz, a hub for search marketers worldwide that provides education, tools and resources to help search engine optimization companies improve their skills.
Fishkin believes that even though Digg isn’t as widely used as Google (whose complex algorithm is another story altogether), it has become highly sophisticated in mixing and blending a unique mixture of ingredients into their algorithmic stew!
He, like others, assesses the obvious; i.e. voting in and of itself is the dominant component. The theory being: if one votes for one article more than others, the more popular story should succeed in the final analysis, similar to our recent presidential election (unless of course the Electoral College thinks differently, but that’s another Wizard of Oz story).
Differing from a mere popularity contest, Digg has taken into consideration a factor that is missing in general elections, and that is timing. Any number of votes in a very short period (if not manipulative) is stronger than the same number of votes over a longer time span. The speed of voting is given more weight, based on the idea that a buzz has been created and excited the digerati to gravitate toward the story quickly.
Also if a low number of stories have recently made the front page in a given category (as all submissions have to note content type), the story is likely to get on top with fewer votes; whereas if there is a high number of recent submissions, the opposite may be true. Also the time of day is a trigger. If 100s of people all tag the same item at 12 midnight, this might be a disqualifying factor and Digg red flag the submission.
The idea of manipulation is another dynamic that Digg is known to weigh. They look at the domain from whence the link came. Has it had content submitted previously? Did that content receive votes, get marked as spam or make the front page? And has the domain been automatically flagged for being manipulative?
Then you have the consideration as to the profile of the submitters and voters. Have they submitted or voted on high quality stories in the past? Or are they simply voting for their own work? Also how many friends do they have? Diggers with more friends can obviously sway a vote. And how long have they been diggers. New registrants might be spammers.
Similar to the Wizard of Oz parody video shown above, the truth of the matter is there is some manual intervention. Many Digg users may not realize it, but all the stories to hit the front page are virtually scrutinized by the Digg editorial staff that may or may not pull a story if they determine the content is too marketing-focused, driven by marketing dollars or has a marketing agenda.
The source of the votes is also thought to be a significant algorithmic element. If the same IP address or IP block appears for one submission, or if an abnormally high number of folks came via a certain geographic region to a Digg page (for example, with no referring URL) these methods could possibly signifying a mass email or IM link. In these instances, Digg might be discounting the value of those votes.
Less of a factor is the “number of views” to the actual Digg ratio. Nonetheless, an abnormally high ratio of views with few diggs could mean that people aren’t really fans of the content that they have given it some consideration, but don’t believe in it enough to spend the time and effort to vote for it.
Matt Asay, GM for Alfresco, a leading open source enterprise content management firm notes that in his interviews with Rami Taibah, a veritable Digg rock star, with over a 100-front page stories on Digg have offered up a few nuggets of wisdom for diggers. Rabitha believes that Digg wants a diversity of people to digg up a post, and that if you continually rely on your same crew of diggers, your future diggs will start to slide in the ratings. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt, according to Asay that Taibah “has over 2,500-plus followers (to rely on), which means that he has a ready-made audience of fans that tend to like the things he Diggs, but who’s counting?”
Finally, why not explore what Digg has to say about its own secret formula. Getting it from the horse’s mouth, Anton Kast, with the inscrutable title of Lead Scientist (shades of the Wizard again) is quick to admit that tweaking the Digg algorithm is a continuous work in progress. But he also states that Digg has “made a few notable enhancements to (their) promotional algorithm recently, to ensure that all Diggers have a fair chance at getting their submitted stories promoted to the homepage,”
And with that definitive and enigmatic statement posted to Digg’s blog, February 12, 2009, Kast quietly slips back behind the veiled secret curtain where only the Oz of Digg can hide well, maybe with some assistance of one MC Hammer! Because Digg is an enigma, and like all enigmas, as Hammer prophetically chants: “U can’t touch this!”
Abstract: Hello, and welcome to this article. Today we will be talking about the stuff that gets popular on Digg and reddit, so that readers like you can harness the powers of the strategies defined within, in order to rocket yourself into the stratosphere of Internet stardom, which is a real place in the sky where everyone sleeps on beds made of invaluable platinum watches and where nobody would ever think of relieving themselves in anything but a latrine designed by Gucci using only the hopes and dreams of those that have failed before you.
Introduction: For those that don’t know, Digg and reddit are “websites.” The arcane processes by which websites function remain mostly mysterious to scientists, who to this day have failed miserably and pathetically at coming up with any sort of rigorous definition for the slimy, slippery creatures.
The best we can offer is an analogy: imagine a very large building, which is exactly 485 floors tall. This building will represent “The Internet,” which has been proven by scientists to only have enough room to hold 485 floors of information. (This is why your computer runs slowly when you are looking at a lot of websites; once the building is full, some low-income websites must be evicted in order to make room for the other, wealthier websites you are looking at, and damage-deposit disputes often make the process very slow.)
Now imagine that our metaphorical Internet-building is filled with rooms, each of which represents a place for a website to go (called a “website place” by experts.) If we were to fill a room with 1) people who speak almost entirely in acronyms, 2) pictures of cats doing funny things, and 3) gigabytes, then we would have a website!
Now we are in a position to understand Digg and reddit: Digg and reddit are websites like the one we described above, but instead of having cats or gigabytes in them, they are filled with angry people who like to complain about Windows.
(Editor’s note: By Windows we are not referring to metaphorical windows in the metaphorical Internet-building we talked about above. The metaphorical Internet-building would have no windows at all, because the Internet is a dark hole of despair where no sunlight will ever be seen.)
But when visitors of Digg and reddit aren’t complaining about Windows, they are voting on whether or not other websites (which sometimes are not Digg or reddit) are any good. So join me as we take a look at what kinds of things are popular on Digg and reddit, so that we can learn from their incredibly marginal Internet success and uncover the topics that are most popular!
Methods: For the purposes of this article I developed a methodology that is both completely baseless and most likely profoundly empirically irresponsible. My strategy was to look through the front-page posts on Digg and reddit that have been the most popular for the last day, week, month or year, organize them according to loose, biased categorical themes, rank the categories according to popularity, then ignore everything I had just done and select the posts that I thought had the most comedic potential.
The next step was to simply total the amount of diggs and reddits (“reddits” is a technical term that I made up for no reason) to give a highly questionable measure of the success of posts about particular topics.
So without further ado, here are the topics that I have determined, via the arcane forces of Science, to be the most popular on Digg and reddit:
Making fun of people who can’t use computers
- Ubuntu Causes Girl to Drop Out Of College - 2110 diggs
- “I had to drop out of college because my laptop came with Ubuntu on it” – 899 reddits
- Stupid tech support – 1451 diggs
- Total: 4460 Angry Nerd Points (ANP)
Making fun of people who can’t use computers is a particularly good way to get a popular post on Digg or reddit, for two reasons. First of all, Digg and reddit users love making fun of people that can’t use computers. In fact, it has been developed into an internationally sanctioned sport, kind of like polo or croquet, except with more merciless insults and vitriolic name-calling and less sport-related stuff, like goals or rules or winners.
For an example of the violent insults used, take a look at this comment on the “Ubuntu Causes Girl to Drop Out Of College” post:
oh man this gilr is so stupid i just want to punch her in the mouth for every minute of every day for the rest of my life for knowing lesss than me about computers
What a jerk! But comments like these are the rage-derived, oil-alternative fuel that keep Digg and reddit running. This is because they automatically raise the poster’s worth as a human being well above that of those too cowardly to post their thoughts in the comments section (my God I feel good about myself right now) and because Digg and reddit make use of sophisticated emotion-detection mechanisms, which measure one’s level of passion while typing a comment and increase the value of the poster’s up-vote accordingly. Some researchers speculate that the above comment may have garnered the user an up-vote with a value equivalent to 5, or even 100, diggs.
The second reason why making fun of people who can’t use computers is a good way to get a popular post on Digg or reddit is that the people who would would be insulted by the post and vote it down probably can’t figure out what a google is (a google is kind of like an ftp or a megahertz) and will most likely never reach the site due to their incredibly hilarious stupidity. This ensures a maximal popularity-ratio for your post, solidifying your place in the magnificent halls of the palace of Digg and reddit.
Anything related to XKCD
- xkcd – I’m A Idiot – 1344 reddits
- I’m An Idiot – 6360 diggs
- Windows 7 : comics – 436 reddits
- Windows 7 [XKCD] – 4376 diggs
- Total – 12516 Randall Munroes (RM)
The furious popularity of anything XKCD-related on Digg and reddit suggests a simple and straightforward strategy for making popular posts: be Randall Munroe. Once you have completed one of the many processes you might choose from to become Randall Munroe, you will find that your popularity on Digg and reddit has increased exponentially.
In the event that you are having difficulties being Randall Munroe, for financial, political, or perhaps metaphysical reasons if you are feeling fancy, the next best strategy presents itself: do something inspired by what Randall Munroe does.
For example, you could make your Mac Mini say stuff (840 reddits) as written about in a recent XKCD comic, or you could build a robotic stick figure that at any moment has a 50% chance of making a romantic quip and a 50% chance of making a joke about calculus. (Editor’s note: Please don’t actually make a robot that does that.)
If it is the case that you do not enjoy jokes about calculus, then this approach is unfortunately not for you. In fact, if you do not enjoy jokes about calculus, then you have no place being on the Internet at all and should pawn your computer and take up a career as a florist in some remote region of the world. (This island, maybe.)
- New video of BART shooting emerges offering clearest view so far (and audio) - 2384 reddits
- Oakland Police Officer Shoots Unarmed Man, Handcuffed Man – 3048 diggs
- Total – 5432 Police States (PS)
Take a moment to observe what is going on in your environment, preferably with a 360 degree, panoramic sweep of your surroundings, ensuring maximum observation-effectiveness. Take note of everything you see, writing down each object and event on a college-ruled piece of looseleaf.
Now take a few minutes to relax and refocus and, once you are prepared, take a look over your list. After you have taken stock of all the things you have observed in your environment, take note of your answer to this question: was anyone being murdered around you?
If the answer is “yes,” then post about it on Digg or reddit! Preferably your post ought to be accompanied by a video of the murder, which will be posted on youtube as soon as possible, where it will be scrutinized by some of the world’s finest political and legal thinkers in the comments section.
Fortunately, posting about murder on Digg and reddit can sometimes have a result other than simply making you realize the world is a cruel, pointless, death-filled, cyclopean abyss, as the humble police gentleman in the videos above was arrested this week, perhaps in part due to the wide dissemination of videos of the event.
But if no one is being murdered around you, then your only option for Digg and reddit popularity through this method is to murder someone yourself. (Editor’s note: It has been proven to be scientifically impossible to make a post about a murder that you didn’t directly witness.) If you are too much of a baby to do this, then this approach is not for you.
- George Carlin has died – 20511 diggs
- Heath Ledger is Dead – 23220 diggs
- Total – 43731
Murder isn’t the only type of death that is popular on Digg; celebrity death is very popular as well!
As you can see, posts about George Carlin and Heath Ledger dying recorded an enormous amount of Diggs. The lesson: when Steve Jobs dies of whatever hormone explosion or money-disease he has, be sure to post about it immediately and you will be by far the most important person on Digg!
Every other type of death
- UN headquarters in Gaza hit by Israeli ‘white phosphorus’ shells – 1803 reddits
- The Darfur situation is bad, but the situation in Congo is chilling: 5.4 million dead – 783 reddits
- Sri Lankan newspaper editor leaves a secret editorial to be published in the event he is assassinated… – 864 reddits
- F’ing SICK – Israeli soldiers stuff 100 civilians in a single house, then blast the house, killing 70 – 1241 reddits
- Total – 4691 Severe Acute Depressions (SAD)
As you can see, pretty much any type of death is very popular, particularly on reddit, and the more depressing and horrifying the better!
The only way to be as popular as these posts is to up the ante and be even more horrifying and depressing. According to my scientific predictions, a post about heroin-addicted kittens being drowned to death in boiling laser-acid for all of eternity by a naked Karl Rove will be the next most popular post on reddit, followed by a post about throngs of severely depressed reddit users commiting suicide.
Meta-diggs imploring diggers to digg a digg about Digg
- Digg this if your sick of power users stealing stories – 20701
- How the average Digg user gets fucked – 10009
- Total – 30710 Diggy Digg Diggs (DDD)
One very popular type of post, particular to Digg, is to ask Digg users to up-vote your post, which is incidentally about how much Digg sucks. In an interesting scientific twist, it seems that all the people who use Digg (showing how much they like Digg) to voice their hatred for Digg (showing how much they hate Digg) do not suffer from any sort of head-exploding realization about the irony of their actions.
The data supporting this fact is stunning: to date exactly zero people have had their head explode after posting on Digg. We know this because if it happened it would definitely have been dugg pretty much immediately by whoever was nearest to the head-exploding incident. (See: Death, above.)
So our two requirements for popular diggs in this particular category are: ask people to digg your digg, and make sure your digg is about Digg. An example of the perfect digg might then be as follows: digg this if you like to digg pointless polls about Digg.
By making our post a digg to diggers who like to digg diggs about digg on Digg, we have increased the meta-level of our digg to new heights, ensuring that we will get at least double the amount of diggs that any diggers before us have ever gotten. (Editor’s note: Sorry for saying digg so many times. The ‘digg’ key on my keyboard was stuck. I have since remedied the problem.)
Further, by using this strategy we will have gathered important demographical information from our digg. First, we have doubly confirmed that people who dugg the post like digging pointless polls, because they showed their ideological approval of digging pointless polls with their vote, and also because their vote was literally an act of digging a pointless poll.
Second, we have discovered that anyone who didn’t digg the post either suddenly lost their internet connection just before they were about to digg, or suddenly lost their hands (which are important tools designed specifically for digging) in a farming accident just as they were about to digg the post. We know this, because literally everyone on digg would be irresistably compelled by the scientific perfection of this digg to vote it up, and the above scenarios are the only two ways they could be stopped.
Reddits that ask people to vote up your post for literally any arbitrary reason
- Almost anything that begins with “vote up if you…” - So Many Reddits I Can’t Count Them (SMRICCT)
This approach is similar to the last one, except on reddit you can ask people to vote up your post for any conceivable reason whatsover, and it will either get absolutely buried or get so many up-votes that the numbers will run all the way down your screen and off the side, spilling over into your cereal.
If you don’t believe me and my powers of Science, simply take a look at the all time most popular reddits (you might have to change the date range to “all time”) where 156% of reddits start with “vote up if you…” and end with “… blah blah blah.”
A familiar strategy presents itself, and the perfect reddit may look something like this: vote up if you like the term “reddits” to refer to the indispensable Internet currency that is net-votes (or “reddits” as they are known.) We have determined that this post is streamlined for maximum reddit popularity, because as we have seen it begins with “vote up if you…” and ends with some other stuff that people may or may not care about.
Unfortunately, even with all this scientific streamlining, this post may not succeed. It is entirely possible that the only people who will vote it up (17 people) will be those who are up-voting it to piss off everyone who is burying it, and everyone who is burying it (everyone else on reddit) will become confused by the post’s lack of material related to death or XKCD, sending them into an uncontrollable down-voting fugue.
Some other junk
In my scientific wanderings through Digg and reddit I found a few other things that were recently popular. In particular, a picture of a guy driving a car while wearing a stormtrooper helmet, a story about a cat being banned from a post office, and a story about youtube muting videos with copyrighted songs.
As such, my highly scientific calculations show that if you make a video of a cat being banned from a post office for driving a car while wearing a stormtrooper helmet, then post it on youtube with Seal’s Kiss From a Rose as the soundtrack, ensuring that it is muted by the silence-Nazis at youtube, you will get exactly 546,362 diggs and reddits.
Conclusion: And thus concludes this article on how to get a popular post on Digg or reddit! We have covered literally everything that is popular on the link-sharing sites, so you now have the tools to go forth and become a true master of the web! (Editor’s note: Please for the love of God vote up this article.)
Junoba, the social bookmarking search engine, makes finding popular links on your favourite bookmarking sites even easier.
On the face of it, Junoba looks just like any other search engine: it has a simple, clutter-free design with a logo, a few words about its purpose, and a search field. It is a no-frills search engine, and in this respect is much like Google or any other search service.
But what differentiates Junoba from many other search engines available on the web is that it is refined specifically for the purpose of searching through social bookmarking sites, such as Digg, Reddit, Fark, Stumbleupon, and others, for popular links uploaded by users.
Junoba works the same as any other popular search engine: just type in a few words about what you want to find, and away you go. The difference is that instead of giving you everything on the Internet, it brings you a specialized list of links form the most popular social bookmarking sites. You can even specify your searches to pin down results from particular bookmarking sites.
For example: (Warning: SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT!) If one was to search for, oh, I don’t know, “new year linux” one might find my article on Digg as the first result. (Hooray, I’ve garnered an incredibly small amount of attention in the vast and expansive wasteland that is the Internet! Oh God I’m so lonely…)
I find that as the popularity of social bookmarking spreads it gets more and more difficult to manage the plethora of bookmarking sites I regularly visit. Visiting fifteen different sites just to see what people are linking to can get tiresome, and trying to remember which one of the vast array of bookmarking sites had that one link with the picture of the guy getting hit in the junk with a wiffle ball can sometimes be frustrating.
Junoba looks to make that process easier, by bringing all those competing social bookmarking sites together for you to search through quickly and easily.
Of course, the easiest way to see how it works is to check it out for yourself!
For those who don’t know what social bookmarking is, most will define it as putting the Bookmarks Folder from your Web browser on a specific site for all users to see. It has now become a phenomenon as others who look on social bookmarking sites will bookmark others’ content, to turn something popular into something even more popular.
There are several Social Bookmarking sites on the web today, and the top five are:
These sites are set up so a user can create a profile, just as they would on a social networking site like Facebook or MySpace. This creates a community where people will see what other users are bookmarking. As a result of all this chatter amidst users, certain sites can often get more traffic than they normally would have received by just sitting around on the web.
Some writers are using social bookmarking as a tool for viral or guerilla marketing for their content. There are some strategies necessary for this, and they are as simple as a pointing and clicking on a recommendations area to post their article on a social bookmarking site.
Some have recommended that writers who post articles on the web not put every article that he or she will write on a social bookmarking site. Instead, just put the ones that will be helpful or of interest to other web surfers.
The best part of Social Bookmarking is that the user creates an external link to his or her site that will be useful for keyword searches on search engines. Of course, this shouldn’t be the only method an online writer should use for drawing traffic to their content, but it is an effective one. Those who want to become more effective in marketing should study the world of social bookmarking to discover how it works, and how to gain readers from it.
Source 1, Source 2, and Source 3