Digg & Focus Groups

26 Feb

No ‘niche’ gets as nasty and personal as politics. It seems as time drags on, more and more people are convinced that the only way to co-exist with someone else is to hammer in your beliefs and ideals into them, whether they believe it or not. The idea of intellectual discourse seems almost dead.

So when you take user generated content and mix in politics, what do you get? Digg’s political news, political opinion, and world news. If people thought the tech side easily skewed to topics that were pro-Apple, pro-Ubuntu, or anti-MS, the political/news areas are about who can troll best.

The topics du jour mostly revolve around how evil Islam is and/or how evil Iran is. An occasional story about a US presidential candidate is thrown around.

A few case examples:

The most obvious case of focus groups pushing their agenda is if one reads the comments. As one progresses down the article, you can see that the original comments are all virulently anti-islamic. As you progress down, the entire tone of ‘discussion.’ changes. Users like patriotickiwi and tomcpp continue to fan the flames for as long as they can. The reality of the content was ‘Leader of ex-Muslim group anonymously threatened.’. The sensationalist headline was ‘Group for former Muslims threatened by Muslims’

Unfortunately I cannot find the link right now, but there was a delightful link to the LittleGreenFootballs (one of the most popular right-wing/anti-Muslim website) which talked about the large influx of traffic by working on Digg. There is a post though on where its readers are recommended they report a blog that was on Digg for an anti-LGF post. (mouthful eh?)

Next up we have example users. Included with delightful users like patriotickiwi and tomcpp we have users like copmoore, Robbie Cooper, davenp35, and so forth and so forth. These are people with a specific agenda. In the tech news, the general idea is that people love Apple. So when they see an Apple story, they digg it. But they also digg other stuff. The above subset of people have only one goal – to use Digg as a mouthpiece showing Muslims in a bad light. Every single one of their comments … well, I will let the comments speak for themselves.

The other interesting example is as follows: http://digg.com/politics/Digg_Presidential_Data_Who_s_hot_and_who_s_not. The original poster himself is a Libertarian. So while the 41.6 percent number is bolded (in BIG RED), isn’t it a bit odd how 10 posts still got through to the frontpage? At a ~9% success rate, our fearless Ron Paul has almost 4x the success of Obama (the current media ‘darling’), and over 9x more success than Clinton. Obama, Gulliani, and McCain are all around 2%, and yet Mr. Ron Paul clocks in at 9%? If anything, his numbers show an odd affinity between Ron Paul and Digg’s frontpage.

I could go ahead and showcase the diggers fro Ron Paul, but I leave that as an academic exercise for the readers :)

Digg’s wordly news sections are fraught with people and agendas. And it is something that needs to be fixed (how? I don’t have a solution in that case).

3 Responses to Digg & Focus Groups


Eamon Mcdermott

February 27th, 2007 at 1:50 pm

My question is who has this kind of time to fan the flames?

Or does LGF get enough ad revenue from people reading these flamewars that it’s worth their while? Has political discussion just become another form of spam?



February 27th, 2007 at 2:30 pm

Ideology has no time-constraints :)


Social News and Politics » Jack Of All Blogs

February 28th, 2007 at 12:58 am

[...] Ahmed of Techsoapbox says that while news will naturally skew towards the topics that people are interested in, it’s in the discussion threads that the talk gets meaty. The political areas are “about who can troll best.” [...]