Can Digg go mainstream?

Who comprises the Digg 'community'? I asked Kevin Rose.
Written by Donna Bogatin, Contributor on
Despite the seemingly continuous hand-wringing over the susceptibility of Digg to gaming and biases--or perhaps because of it—Digg is a favored topic, destination and “affiliate” among everyone writing on or about the Web.

This post reflects the omnipresence of Digg in the online tech community: We ask “Digg this,” at the end of the article, as we do at the end of all ZDNet blog posts. ZDNet is not unique, “Digg this” is ubiquitous in online media.

I have written many a story on Digg, and even had the honor of featuring Kevin Rose as my first interviewee of my “Real Deal” interview series (see "Digg: Kevin Rose talks ‘The Real Deal'"), last September, and spoke with Jay Adelson when Digg Revision3 launched (see “Kevin Rose: ‘kill your television’ and join me at Revision3”).

The Digg team is passionate and committed. What’s Digg,? Digg asks, and answers:

Digg is all about user powered content. Everything is submitted and voted on by the digg community. Share, discover, bookmark, and promote stuff that's important to you!

Who comprises the Digg “community”? I drilled-down with Rose in September:

Q) Recent published Digg demographics indicate that the Digg community is 94% male and generally twenty or thirty something techies earning $75,000 or more. Your partner Jay Adelson indicated in June that Digg aims to provide mainstream news sites a view into what the public considers newsworthy. He said specifically "If you want to know what a particular group of people or the mass public care about today, I can know within seconds, versus waiting for the publication cycle to happen so you can look at your subscription data or Nielsen ratings."

How can the homogeneous Digg community be considered the “mass public”?

ROSE: Those demographics are prior to the latest generation of the site, Digg Version 3.0 We have grown since. In December 2004 when we launched we were largely a tech news site. We have a variety of other areas now, politics, entertainment… After Version 3., we saw a huge spike in new registered users from the other categories. We have more diversified users.

Q) Your partner Jay Adelson said in June that Digg leverages “the collective wisdom of the Internet masses to sift through these stories and apply their interests to it." Recent published Digg metrics are: 10 million pages views daily, 500,000 registered users, 20% of the traffic coming from registered users.

The Digg motto is that it is “all about user powered content. Every article on digg is submitted and voted on by the digg community.” The 80% majority of the Digg community, however, are non-registererd users who do not submit, digg, or bury stories.

How can Digg homepage stories be considered “the collective wisdom of the Internet masses" if only 20% of the Digg community is reflected within the digging?

ROSE: It is the wisdom of the half million registered users of the site. It is a big base to work from, we are doubling every few months.

Yesterday, Rose announced the latest redesign and reconfiguration of Digg, with a greater focus on video, the addition of podcast Digging and more emphasis of non-tech content, such as science, sports and entertainment (see “Digg’s new digs”).

Will Digg succeed in its efforts to diversify beyond its tech content and user base? How has Digg fared so far? I touched base with Rose yesterday to find out.

Q) What is the demographic makeup of Digg's total user base now?

ROSE: The Digg user base is growing rapidly and becoming more diverse. Traditionally, it has skewed to the 18-35 male group, but we are seeing many new users outside that demographic now as Digg has expanded its features and content offerings.

Q) What is the percentage of traffic attributed to each different topic category?

ROSE: We have seen many of the new content areas introduced last summer, such as politics an videos, take off.  Those two sections, beyond our technology category which continues to be an anchor, are now the fastest growing on Digg.

Q) How many monthly unique visitors? What percentage of monthly uniques are
registered at Digg?

ROSE: The number of monthly uniques that visit Digg on aggregate is approximately 20 million.  This is a combination of our direct visits, our API, and RSS traffic.

Q) What is the average number of story headlines clicked on by users?

ROSE: Many people use Digg in many different ways.  Some people are active Diggers, making hundreds of Diggs every day.  Others only make a few. Others actively visit the site, but are viewers that don't register and watch what other people are Digging.  In terms of an average, we don't currently publish that statistic.

How is Digg faring? Only Digg knows!

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