I have to hand it to TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington, he has a wonderfully persuasive yet amicable approach to extracting details from his interviewees – not always successful – but never boring to watch.
His most recent interview, posted over at TechCrunch (and below), features Digg‘s Kevin Rose and whether you’re a Digg fan or not, I highly recommend giving it a watch. Arrington ‘digs’ (sorry) deep into the early days of Digg, the numerous rounds of funding, acquisition/sale attempts and even (at the very end) Rose’s crush on Jennifer Anniston.
Going Real Time
From a tech perspective however, Rose announces that Digg are moving in a completely new direction, one that will guarantee to make you think “that’s a ballsy move”. Whilst refusing to share specific details, Rose does say that it’s time for Digg to get a “more real-time in nature” and become a “living and breathing site”. It’s difficult to pin point precisely what that means but if there’s one thing that Digg is noticeably slow at, it’s ‘breaking news and discussions’ on the homepage. It takes time, quite often hours, before a breaking story makes the front page because of the number of Digg’s it takes to get there. It’ll be interesting to see whether the ‘real time’ future of Digg aims to resolve that.
The Digg Bar
Rose opens up frankly about the Digg bar, and in my opinion, does a solid job at putting the malarkey behind it into perspective. I think it’s natural for most users and outsiders to believe Digg’s motive are entirely selfish and solely focused on ensuring Digg grows and keeps the traffic it generates.
Rose however explains the thought process behind the bar itself:
“The idea is that we’ve known for a long time that it’s a really clunky process for someone to go click out, read an article, come back, Digg (it), and with our amateur things that we use to track behavior on the site. It’s often times the click out really enjoys something clicked on, forgets to click the story or click out, have to come back and then it’s just back and forth.
So, the idea was can we create a tool that adds value to the user when they go and visit this third party site. … Also, you want to make it so that it would be easy for you to be able to share that person’s, that publisher’s story into other social graphs. So one click out to Facebook, one click out to Twitter, all integrated into a single bar that also happens to do short URLs at the same time.”
After a week or so of the DiggBar being released however, Digg have a rethink:
So, we sat back, collected a week plus worth of data, including a ton of our survey feedback forms that we had right into the bar which people would click at into the survey on what they thought of the bar. At the end of the day, it just made sense to simplify things and keep it a registered only user experience.
So essentially, if anyone – search engine, user, a non-user of Digg, receives one of these short Digg URLs through Twitter or wherever else in the universe and they click on it and they’re not logged in, it’s just going to do a straight out, 301 redirect to the destination site.
Rose also shares how much growth the DiggBar has brought from Twitter, approximately 5%-10% apparently…although its unclear exactly how much it was before.
What is clear though is that Digg currently has 4.8 million users with 35 million uniques, and average front page news stories receive approximately 5000-10000 digg’s. Rose’s goal is to see regular Digg tally’s of 25000+ on the homepage before even considering a sale, and according to him “that road is a lot shorter than you would think.”