The Digg Algorithm – Unofficial FAQ

DiggA few days ago, Digg changed their ranking algorithm (I noticed this immediately since I am an active Digg member, but I didn’t wanted to blog about it), in such a way that now upcoming stories need even 100+ diggs to make it to the frontpage. And since Digg doesn’t offer an official FAQ (the reasons are the same why Google doesn’t offer an official algorithm FAQ – so people can’t abuse), I decided to write a few of my findings along the way. These are unofficial, unsupported points and are purely my personal ramblings. So if someone has any objections, please do comment.

This post wants to show you guys my findings about Digg’s ranking system as well as how many diggs you need to reach the frontpage, for each of Digg’s categories (please do note that this post doesn’t represent a method to let users know how they can trick Digg’s system, but a way to let users know about how the ranking system really works). What will get you a frontpage:

  1. The rapidity of the votes. If you get 40-50 votes (no matter what users digg) in the first 30 minutes, you’re probably on the frontpage. If you get 60-70 in the first 18 hours, you’re probably still on the frontpage. If you don’t get at least 60 votes in the first 24 hours, you’re nowhere.
  2. The rank of the users that vote the article. The highest it is on the top list, the better (enter the user’s profile, and his rank will be shown). You can also see the number of promoted stories for each user that voted your article by watching the number in the brackets beside the user’s name. Digg also has a Top Users page, and you can sort it by Diggs, Promotions etc.
  3. The number of comments, and the positive diggs that each article receives. If you have a lot of negative rated comments that can hurt more then help actually. If you have 30 comments, and 20 are rated below -4, you’ll probably not make it to the frontpage. This function might not be implemented yet, as Kevin noted in one ZDnet interview, but it seems to me that it is.
  4. The number of buries your story gets. You can get buried whilst being in the upcoming section, or whilst being on the frontpage. The number of buries that your story needs to receive to be buried really depends, but I think it’s related to the rank of the user who issues the bury, the type of burry (Duplicate Story, Spam, Wrong topic, etc) as well as the number of Diggs the story received. So if you story is in the upcoming section and receives 3 buries, it might get buried. But if it’s on the frontpage with 1000 Diggs, it will take more than 10-15 buries for it to disappear (yet still accessible from Digg, but not beeing present n any category – just by direct linking, or searching with “buried stories” included).
  5. The submitted / promoted stories ratio of the users that vote. If 12-14 users with at least a 70% ratio, vote your article, you can make the frontpage much easier. You can find this ratio in any user’s profile.
  6. Make friends. Mutual Friends usually digg your stories, so those 10-20 extra diggs can make the difference. You can add a maximum of 4 friends per hour (for spam reasons, and way to go Digg). You can add as many as you would like, and hope that they will add you too, so you will be mutual friends. After that, help your friends (and hope they will do the same) by watching the Submitted by Friends section.
  7. Update: Very Very Important: If you have a LOT of friends (50-100 or more) you will need 2X or 3X as many diggs as a new user, to reach the frontpage. This is proven and 2 of the top10 users confirmed it to me. It’s natural that Digg implemented this for powerful users, because their friends dug their articles, so they have an advantadge over a usual starting user with just a few or NO friends. So if you are a very new user with no friends, you can still get to the frontpage with 30-40 diggs.

Now about the aprox. number of diggs you need to get on the frontpage, for each category:

  1. Technology (and the sub-categories) – about 50 diggs required, but it may go up to 90.
  2. Science (and the sub-categories) – about 65-70 diggs required, but it may go up to 85.
  3. World & Business (and the sub-categories) – about 80-90 diggs required, but it may go up to 100.
  4. Sports (and the sub-categories) – about 30-40 diggs required, but it may go up to 50.
  5. Videos (and the sub-categories) – about 55-60 diggs required, but it may go up to 80.
  6. Entertainment (and the sub-categories) – about 50-55 diggs required, but it may go up to 70.
  7. Gaming (and the sub-categories) – about 35-50 diggs required, but it may go up to 60.

They also increased the timeline that stories have to make it to the frontpage. If up until now your story needed a maximum of 18-20 hours to make it to the frontpage, now you can see frontpage stories submitted 26-28 hours ago.

They also added a Popular Stories Archive, with popular stories by month. I would suggest Digg some sort of pagination, because some pages (in some months) have 2000 links. The page loads forever and remember Google recommends a maximum of 100-200 links per page ?

And to top it up, here are three interviews with Kevin Rose, about Digg and the Digg algorithm (read them and you will get smarter, and understand Digg better):

Interview with Digg founder Kevin Rose (Part 1, about the ranking system) – ZDnet
Interview with Digg founder Kevin Rose (Part 2, about the spam protection) – ZDnet
Digg’s Kevin Rose on Recent Indiggnation: Fact vs. Fiction – MarketingShift

Digg is now ranked as the #25 most visited website in the US, and about #75 worldwide, according to Alexa.

Here are some Quantcast ratings for Digg.

Last note: I will appreciate any corrections and/or comments about what I just wrote, from the Digg users and/or the Digg staff. If something I wrote is utterly wrong, deceiving or otherwise, please e-mail me.

Edit: The story at Digg was buried. That makes me (and not only me, but a few other top members too) wonder: Why ? (I am not concerned about the traffic, but about the competency of Digg’s users to let information out on the frontpage)

Published by

Cristian Mezei

I am myself.

44 thoughts on “The Digg Algorithm – Unofficial FAQ”

  1. Interesting metrics. Quite a few stories still made the front page yesterday and I think that just increasing the number of Diggs needed to make the front page isn’t the answer since the answer to that problem would be to just increase your network of Digg traders. Plus, sites like UserSubmitted would work even better since the people digging stories would be completely random.

    IMO, Digg has almost become so popular it’s almost impossible to manage from an upcoming stories perspective. Without actively trying to go out and get diggs for a new story, the sheer volume of new stories almost guarantees your story gets pushed several pages deep before it gets enough diggs to make it to the front page.

    Regardless, I’m still hooked and still read them daily.

  2. As a top 20 user, I too am an active user of digg. I can tell you with all certainty that I had a story yesterday, take well OVER 100 diggs to make it to the front page http://www.digg.com/tech_news/Digg_New_Feature_Popular_Archive. I have over 350 friends on my friends list and about 17 friends had dugg my story just before it went to the front.

    I have a current submission that has 41 diggs and doesn’t look like it will make the front page as it’s several days ‘old’ now.

    Regardless, it seems as if digg has made it harder for active, top 20 users, to get anything to the front page…not that that is my goal, mind you. I emailed them yesterday and asked if I was being “punished” for having so many friends on my friends list. I have yet to hear back from them.

  3. The Digg algo is making life hard for many of the top diggers. Some of the stories in the World & Business category had 120 diggs and were still in the que. It seems that high digg numbers are needed if you are a top digger with a lot of friends.

  4. Another great article, Cristian. There’s a lot of good information there for people wanting to make it on Digg. Particular attention should be paid to “submitted by friends”.

  5. Greg: If myself (#200) or you (#20) have difficulties getting a story to the frontpage, what cana new user do ? Nothing. There are just too many diggs involved.

    Neil: I guess you are right. Maybe you need more diggs as you go up into the ranks.

    Zap: Thanks a lot.

  6. It is very common these days for book authors to drive traffic to their product on Amazon, and asking their list members to buy their book within a certain time-period, so that they can boost their ranking on the Amazon best-seller’s list.

    This happens with the New York Times best sellers list too, I believe.

    However, if you wrote to your list members, or family and friends (outside of Digg) and asked them to go Digg your article, would that be considered a violation by Digg? Would your site get banned for that?

    And how about digging your own submission?

    – Ravi
    Founder, LinkOverLoad.com

  7. However, if you wrote to your list members, or family and friends (outside of Digg) and asked them to go Digg your article, would that be considered a violation by Digg?

    That would be a violation I think, altough putting a digg button in your post is a violation too (because you ask visitors to vote). What would be a really good thing is for visitors to digg a story, only if they find it intereting or useful.

    And how about digging your own submission?

    IMHO, digging your own submission doesn’t consitute an offense or a TOS violation, simply because you are the owner of the article. if the article is a good one and brings insights and news into a certain problem why not ?

    I am not talking about the spammers that submit each and every one of their MFA websites articles in Digg.

    As you see (for example) in my blog, I don’t even have ads. Just a small banner in the right sidebar, that actually seems like it blends with the design.

    So I really don’t digg articles to make money. This is a personal blog.

  8. “#2 The rank of the users that vote the article. The highest it is on the top list, the better. You can see the rank of the user that voted your article by watching the number in the brackets beside the user’s name. Digg also has a Top Users page, and you can sort it by Diggs, Promotions etc.”

    This is actually the number of stories the user has made to the front page.

  9. There may be underlying factors that are NOT measurable by the public – for example factoring the number of Bury votes (they are no longer revealed in the displayed Diggs) – but it would be difficult to imagine – Negative Votes and the Status of that USER making the Vote – not being factored in. Even if it does not get to the point of burying a story

    Also, the severity of the Bury must count – for example – OK Lame – is far different from a SPAM Bury in severity

    But Digg’s Algos can be so bizarre – that even Top Users with solid reps can suddenly just disappear
    :LOL

  10. I recently built a site: http://www.fingad.com and used the digg model to apply strictly to finance and the world of investing. I’m keeping it completely open to the community about votes and the highest number of votes the higher the article will be placed. No algorithms. Want to keep it as fair as possible to new users and stories go directly on the front page.
    Thoughts?

  11. Is your user ranking determined by the quality of content that you post or based on how closely to the average you rate other people’s content?

  12. This was a great article as I have just started using Digg and don’t really know how it works. This has really helped me understand a bit more about digg. It seems to be very popular however I don’t think it will help ones website unless it’s really popular and you have lots of traffic.

    I will spend more time trying to learn the bigger picture about digg and all the other social bookmarking sites out there.

    I was pointed to this article from a friend of mine and I have now spent some time checking out the blog and its great. Thanks

  13. Interesting.
    Digg recently restrict users for spamming friends. I heard the maximum amount of PM’s you can send once is only 5?

  14. Hi,
    restriciting users is only going to hurt digg. Honestly, I get a lot more traffic from stumles, digg is never been big on video sites. Stumble gets me a steady flow of traffic, digg is mediocre at very best. I can only hope that people diversify as far as their marketing efforts ( eg. ALL social bookmarking is good, notjust digg). I have a friend that was on the first page over 50 times. He does pretty well with adwords. My little site, unique script gets about 200 or so uniques a day. That’s actually on a good day.
    “Digg and other social networks are widely manipulated by web marketers nowadays”. ( mike above me)
    lol, you think?
    O, this is my mini site that I get around 200 u/v a day: http://www.livesteaua.com
    Webmasters, what do you think? You like the script? You think I should concentrate on digg?
    Regards, and keep up the good job.

  15. Thanks that really helped . By the way since you mentioned it reminded me about my friend who has more than 500+ friends , if that is abnormal

  16. i never know about this digg loophole..
    However i have seen many sites that are selling digg’s.. I am not sure about the future of digg as people can pay for diigs and can easily come on frontpage…

    Kevin needs to think on this….

  17. There are lots of people selling digg post, so those top votes may come from those webmaster buying votes. Seem like nowadays, this is the kind of trend we are getting, buying votes…… kind of look like a fake beauty contest, those ugly babe will win the game!

  18. Digg is working, only if you have a lot of friends who can digg your articles. OR you have a write very interesting stuff, that not so many people do, usually its a trade: “You digg me, I digg you” Where is a lot of the websites who offers a digging service for a $$$ But still digg is a nice resource where you can find a lot of new information or interesting stories.

  19. First of all, I haven’t come across a PERFECT search algorithm. Even Google’s PageRank is dead now. So it is understandable that DIGG has certain drawbacks. In general, I think the Internet world needs a 3rd generation searching/indexing algorithms (1st generation is keyword-based, 2nd generation is based on link popularity). I agree with “Designer”, digg service is still a nice service although there are some issues

  20. Hi!
    I think that the long DIGG control a small group of people. And honest people do not go on the TOP. I have done a lot of articles (40 …) Not one article above 28 DIGG not gone to the INDEX page.

  21. well, i tried out digg. just not impressed with the way it works. i thinks it a problem with my niche tho, a little too controversial. people seem to like to bicker and bash on there

  22. This article was helpful. I have tried to use it, but have not gotten “the hang” of using DIGG. This helped shine some light on it. Sounds like it is going commercial, like most good things.

  23. Hehe, funny little spam note, but also… I love DIGG! If you post something of value there you’ll see a huge increase in traffic, just like stumbleupon =)

    I use them all the time

    – Chris

  24. Wow..a very good info about digg. Sometimes i dont understand how the digg work. Now you clear it for me. Congrat..

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