This is the problem for Mixx and every other would-be Digg rival: Even Digg isn’t really sure about how far it can take the social news concept, which has yet to appeal beyond a core group of aficionados. Even founder Kevin Rose is admitting as much. Caroline McCarthy:
“We have to do better,” he said in his talk, called “The Future of News,” and said that it’s time for the social news site that he founded in 2004 to to expand beyond the geek set and get some real-world relevance. “Why click a button and make the number go up by one? Why does that matter?”
Digg, after all, gets more than 30 million monthly visitors, but Rose said that the site only has slightly over three million registered user accounts–those are the people actually “Digging.” That indirectly confirmed what Digg critics hve been saying all along: that it’s reflective of only a tiny and vocal subset of the Web, resulting in a heavy bias toward anything iPhone, anything Linux, anything Barack Obama, and plenty of wacky local news stories…
Also, stories about Digg. Digg users love reading about Digg. But yes, Kevin/Caroline’s diagnosis sounds right to us. So what’s the remedy?
Digg has a lot of data that it hasn’t opened up yet, and that it will start rolling out to the public to make the site more relevant for average people. Pooling users into “dynamic” groups by interest is paramount, as is customising the site for people who might not want all those stories about iPhones and Barack Obama. Beyond that, there’s more: Digg has used internal algorithms to identify what Rose calls “prescient users,” or tastemakers who have a high probability of Digging something early on that will eventually become very popular.
Hmmmm. This seems like ways to slice up the existing user base more efficiently, which may be good for advertisers. But we’re not sure how that increases Digg’s overall size. Speaking of advertising: This seems to be a good time to concentrate on that. How’s that going?
Though the site now relies on its display ad contract with Microsoft, “Diggable ads” in some form will eventually help Rose’s company make a few extra bucks.
OK. Looking forward to that. And while we’re asking questions, we’ve got one more, which we were unable to answer when SAI co-founder Dwight Merriman asked us last month: Just what, exactly, does Digg plan to do with the $29 million it just raised?