Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Digg's Ninja Moderators

It is pretty common knowledge that ninjas lurk in the shadows waiting to kill things. I have never seen one personally, but that does not mean that they do not exist. Some people believe there are secret moderators lurking in the shadows of fighting crime and sinister activities, while other believe they are the sinister ones themselves. Here are some things to think about.

Digg Has Moderators
It would be very false to say that Digg doesn't have moderators. The only question is what exactly they do? Here are a few references I found with regard to digg admin or mods from the digg team themselves:

In part 2 of a ZDNet interview, Kevin had this to say:

"But for the most part I’d say it’s probably 95% user-driven, so the users handle most of that for us - which is really nice from the admin side, in that we don’t really have to have a large staff that’s policing the site. It’s actually only one person who watches the site in general - it’s not really that big a task because the community handles most of it."

There Are Missing Stories
As far as I understand it, when a story is buried it is removed from the homepage. However, It still exists on digg. This is easily shown by running a search and including buried stories. Here is an example search I ran using 'themulife'. This is how digg works...except when it doesn't.

Sometimes stories are completely removed from digg. I have no idea why, but it happens. Here is an example of a story that was buried, but is no longer anywhere on digg. Oops, page not found. I know this story existed because there I watched it get buried numerous times on the digg spy:

This has happened to other stories as well. Perhaps it is an internal error? In completeing the research for this story I ran across this ZDNet interview with Digg founder Kevin Rose where he explains the burial system. Here is the important snippet:

"So, for example, users can "bury" a story and when enough users do that it’s removed from the queue, but not deleted from the site."

What do the moderators moderate?
I'm sure you can come to your own conclusion here. I would think it would be a bad conclusion that Digg is up to no good, because they really have a lot to lose going that route. What do you think?

While there are certain aspects (such as the number of buries per story) of the burying process that should not be revealed for good reason. Others should. One good example of this is the reason for burial. Currently, in order to find out why a submission was buried, you need to email digg support. Big waste of time for something as cut and dry as this. Why not just list the reason next to the red thumbs down?

Another crazy idea would be to differentiate between 'user moderation' and 'administrative moderation'. I believe this would allow digg's users to see how/why things are done, and who they are done by. This would give them the opportunity to know what they did wrong so that they know what to correct in the future.

In the end, mysterious things sometimes happen for no reason. Without proper explanation people tend to conjure up conspiracy theories or whatever. I hope this post did not come across as a conspiracy theory as I only presented what we know and nothing more. Digg on.


Anonymous said...

There's definitely a need for transparency.

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