Is Digg rigged? JP thinks so. He offers an informal analysis indicating that several “top 30” Digg users cross-dig each other’s posts frequently, which could mutually contribute to them staying in the top group of users.
For this post, I don’t really care if there is a cartel of Digg users coordinating self-promotion. The story for ICDers is that Digg changed its system to try to reduce the possibility of this type of pollution.
This algorithm update will look at the unique digging diversity of the individuals digging the story. Users that follow a gaming pattern will have less promotion weight. This doesn’t mean that the story won’t be promoted, it just means that a more diverse pool of individuals will be need [sic] to deem the story homepage-worthy.
As Rose notes, keeping the bad stuff out (the pollution problem I regularly discuss) is a well-known and ongoing challenge to a user-contributed content community: “we have learned a lot about the user base and how to defend digg from spam, artificial diggs, and digg fraud. It’s a battle we will continue to fight and one that we don’t take lightly” (id).
1There are interesting questions about the conditions under which it is in one’s self-interest to cooperate with a cartel, and what the enforcement mechanisms are that enable this. In fact, my first published article concerned conditions causing international mineral cartels of the past century to succeed or fail: MacKie-Mason, Jeffrey K. and Robert S. Pindyck, “Cartel Theory and Cartel Experience in International Minerals Markets,” in Energy: Markets and Regulation, Richard L. Gordon, Henry D. Jacoby and Martin B. Zimmerman, eds. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1987: 187-214.)