September 10, 2006 3 Comments
There are a lot of articles on Digg about gaming Digg, but instead of focusing on gaming Digg everyone should think about this as an inherent flaw in the socially driven sites on the web. I’ll use Digg as an example in this post.
People will always act in their self interest.
Most of this idea’s credit goes to Clayton specifically with Digg, but it could be applied to any “social-web” site that uses a form of voting (delicios, reddit, whoever)—
- Connect to IRC Server
- Join a chat room with 90 people
- “Hey anyone want to make $2? I’ll paypal it to your account in the next hour.”
- Receive 30 skeptical messages, requesting payment.
- Tell them to sign up on [insert social networking site here]
- Tell them to Digg/Delcious/Add an article
- Check their “recently dugg” or delicious pages to verify
- Pay them $2.
30 diggs in 45 minutes? If the article has any merit after that, it would just be a snowball effect after the initial influx.
Total cost: $60. Total benefit? That’s the kicker. How valuable is the front page of digg—and for what duration?
The only way to ensure the front page of diggs is more diggs. We could enlist poor college students via a Facebook ad, “want to make $20/week?” Then I could have a few Jason Calacanis like investors dominating the social web.
Did they get it wrong when choosing to pay the power bookmarkers? Instead of paying a power bookmarker $1500, pay 1500 regular users $1. Or 750 users $2.
A scenario like this is where the API happy masses have shot themselves in the foot. The whole Digg game could be scripted.
- Business XYZ has a super cool Web 2.0 Product they want to ‘virally’ market
- XYZ signs up at GameDiggNow.com
- GameDiggNow.com finds out by crunching some numbers on the front page stories (# of diggs, recency of the articles being posted—maybe a few other factors, all available via API) how many diggs in what amount of time will be needed to get to the front page
- GameDiggNow has 2000 users online at the current time. They’re all notified that if they digg the XYZ article in the next hour their paypal account will receive $1.
- Script checks in one hour from notification all of the GameDiggNow digg acccount’s recent Diggs, if they did digg the story, $1 from a GameDiggNow goes to each GameDiggNow User’s PayPal Account.
- Story is on the front page (For Now)
- XYZ gets boost in PR that could really last, spends $2000.
People will always act in their self interest. The social web depends on people, who are selfish… which is why Digg (and similar sites) sites cannot sustain over a significant period of time.