Digg and the failure of the crowd’s wisdom

Newspaper Death Watch noted in a post a few days ago about the elite user fiasco over at Digg.com. The site, supposedly a “democratic” news site where the users play editor and choose what content makes it to the front page, has come under fire from some of its top users for allegedly auto-burying stories, suspicously banning some top users and other actions. Newspaper Death Watch writes:

Should this be taken as a condemnation of the community journalism model and validation for the rule of editors? Absolutely not. As Wikipedia has demonstrated, armies of ordinary people can create a phenomenal information resource. However, leaving all decision-making to a group without providing rules or oversight invariably results in the ascendance of an elite. In the case of Wikipedia, that elite is self-regulating. In the case of Digg’s more juvenile crowd, it’s a frat party.

It seems like an awful lot of the comments I’ve seen have come out against the elite Digg users, as if they were some secretive triumvirate of moguls bent on ruling the world through domination of the Digg front page.

I don’t think that’s true at all; in fact, I’m in total agreement with the elite users who wrote the letter linked above. Digg is not a news source at heart; it is a game, a game founded on supposedly democratic rules. The elite user letter gets things a bit mixed up between democracy and a game, but I’ll let that go. What really matters is that these people are playing the game by its own rules and winning, and that apparently doesn’t suit the operators over at Digg.


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