Will making social news sites “less social” improve or destroy the culture? image: Tenshirisu
Others are asking Digg to disable the main social networking features on the site (i.e. no more making friends and sending shouts), make all submissions anonymous, limiting the number of Diggs per user each day — and other artificial restrictions… in an attempt to give “equal power” to all users.
I can understand the frustrations of the casual Digg user who never hits the home page. There’s no “101 Intro” video that explains how social news and social networking sites actually operate. And most hard-working people with families or jobs don’t have several hours each day to devote to social news sites, unlike the power users they must compete against.
It’s true that social news isn’t completely “fair” for everybody. And or are other high-profile media realms… like Hollywood, professional sports, or the music industry. Some producers and directors have the charisma, personal brands and connections to push hits onto the screen and win Grammies and Academy Awards year after year – probably at the expense of other “more deserving” bands and stars that no one has heard of, yet.
Social news has a hierarchical power structure, just like old media. At traditional newspapers… the most senior, dedicated employee is more likely to become the editor-in-chief and get control of the home page. At a Japanese company, the salaryman who works the longest hours is most likely to become section chief.
My Japanese supervisor, Mr. Shimizu, put in 16 hour days and knew the culture. He excelled at office politics.
The participation-based merit systems are an
important essential ingredient in what has made social news one of the most glamorous and thriving sectors in “Web 2.0″…
Although some people say they hate celebrities, the masses tend to love and support them. I admit that I look up to the “social media rockstars” and I follow their content on Digg or Twitter, in part because they are famous. I can’t meaningfully separate personalities and social relationships from social news… without it losing its exciting, competitive edge… the sticky element that keeps people hooked, hungry and trying harder for the home page.
This competitive drive — and the web of social obligations tied to it — really fuels Digg’s monthly previews and allows it to make money on advertising.
The Digg management understands what the angry proletariat masses don’t: you can’t have capitalism without rich people. You can’t add too many artificial supply restrictions onto a successful social community and attention economy – and expect it to thrive.
So, if you want highly-regulated news… watch Fox. If you want “equality,” start up your own site called “News Lotto: Randomly Selected Stories from Anonymous Nobodies”
If you want eclectic, socially-influenced news picks…. Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon do a pretty good, if not perfect job, of delivering a mix of interesting content and commentary. Just be aware that those who participate 10x or 100x more than the average user are going to have somewhat higher odds and, often, better social news skills.
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Brett Borders, the author of this article, is a professional copywriter who specializes in increasing website sales and signup rates. I'm available now to write for your website and optimize it for maximum sales and profits. Please contact me now for a free consultation.