If you don’t read it already, Digg has been the hot site in finding the latest Internet buzz among techies. The social bookmarking site allows users to vote on what sites are hot by adding their “digg” vote to the raw list of contributions. However, it has always been hampered by a weak comments feature, replete with trolls and juveline insults. Grand-daddy news site for nerds Slashdot, with its engaging discussions on tech issues and trends, developed a meta-moderation system and became a wine-sipping salon for intelligent and witty discourse, while Digg grew by providing bookmarks as virtual jello-shots, quickly turning into the Animal House of social software. (Interestingly, the weekly affiliated podcast Diggnation features the two hosts tossing back beers while discussing the most Digg’ed sites each week.)
But last week, Digg introduced comment rating, nesting and filtering, and the nature of the community has changed quite dramatically for the better – smart conversations are happening now that the signal/noise ratio has improved.
This is a good example of what Clay Shirky has described as situated software – “software designed in and for a particular social situation or context.” Instead of engineering an entire site for all foreseeable features it might need, the situated software models means having software programmers working alongside content folks to adapt to the conditions, needs and growth of the community. Slashdot did the same thing in developing meta-moderation. Wikipedia developers (one paid, and many volunteers) rewrote features as the community grew and vandalism was more rampant and sophisticated. It’s good to see Digg upgrade their site to keep up with their phenomenal growth.