Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Digg, community editing, and vested interests

Digg and many other community edited sites have on the face of it a superb idea. Who better to evaluate and promote content on the Internet than users of that content ? So if you like an article, and you Digg it, and others on Digg like it, its rating goes up and the article is noticed.

Fair enough. Sites like Digg want to be gatekeepers or filters to the large quantity of content on the Internet. But when a variety of vested interests like corporate flacks and self-promoting individuals decide that they can use their individual rights as community editors to promote some news about the companies they represent, or their own articles and blog posts, then you start wondering if community editing is the best option for a site that aims to be a gatekeeper, a filter for quality content.

If one of my posts is submitted to Digg, I am usually grateful if three to four persons Digg the story. What is however galling is to find that a rehash of an uninteresting press release pulled out of Business Wire or PR Newswire has been Dugg 15 to 20 times by an informal cabal of Diggers set up for the sole purpose of Digging an article.

Often folks, who put up a video or article they have written, unabashedly Digg it, and then send the word out to other Diggers to vote for it, with the promise that they will do it for you if you ask. For example: “Please help to digg and share. Shout back if you need and I will help you with pleasure too”.

As a reader. I am not interested in reading content from corporate wires. I can always to go to the sites of these news wires, and pick up the press releases. What I would like is the independent analysis, the real story behind the press release, and not the corporate spiel.

Digg is not the only place where vested interests like corporate flacks hang out. There have been reports about how companies have edited entries in Wikipedia to reflect their point of view.

To be sure, folks like Digg and Wikipedia can request vested interests to honor the objectives of their community edited sites. But it is most unlikely that these interests will back off. Is there some technology that could filter out these activities. If there isn’t folks at Digg, YouTube and other content sharing sites had better develop it, to stay relevant.

Related article:

Businesses crawling all over YouTube, Facebook

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