COLLABORATORS: ISAAC SALIER-HELLENDAG, XIAOMENG ZHONG
Digg is a social content aggregation website. Users who participate in this site submit news articles, webpages, videos, or anything of general interest. These submissions are reviewed by other users of the site, and if they find it interesting, they "digg" it. Stories that receive enough votes bubble up to the frontpage, a part of the website that is accessed by its millions of users. This process is continuous and never-ending, providing a steady churn of stories that bubble to the frontpage. In essence, it relies on the community using the website to collectively create this public good.
As a consequence of its natural appeal, Digg has grown to become an extremely busy place. Currently, it has been speculated that there are 2-3 million registered users of the site. This means that a story on the frontpage can be extremely favorable for website operators, as it provides free exposure and marketing to hundreds of thousands of users, and also yields a generous spike in ad revenue.
With these advantages laid out, it is hardly a surprise that people attempt to game submissions so that they can reach the frontpage. By providing enough votes during the "Upcoming" stage of the story, one could provide enough momentum to propel the story on to the frontpage. It has been speculated that users reach out to their social network to provide this initial bout of votes. Services(clickfarms) that promise to put a story on to the frontpage charge upwards of a thousand dollars for each story.
The motive behind this project was to visualize this phenomenon at play, and give the users a tool to distinguish between the genuinely interesting stories and the gamed stories at any point on the frontpage. At this point in the project, design concepts have been generated, and data analysis has been done to validate the hypothesis. Please see the presentation below for these. Implementation is currently underway. If you have any thoughts about the project, feel free to write to me.