The latest installment that pierces the Digg cash-free democratic veneer is from Deep Jive Interests, putting forth that Diggers are being regularly solicited via email to “game” Digg for pay, on behalf of third parties:
My name is xxxx and I have been recently promoted as xxxx at xxxx. Our company sells xxxxx . My job is to get people interested in our site, but my problem is that I have not had any success. While searching the web for possible business partners, I started to read about Digg and its popularity…that’s where you come into play. Given the fact that you are the xxxxx user at the website as well as xxxxx, I am contacting you to see if I can somehow recruit you to start getting the word out about our service.
Please check us out, see what you think and get back to me.
I have asked Rose about rampant finanically motivated gaming via self-submissions at Digg, as I recount in “Digg: Kevin Rose talks ‘The Real Deal’ in exclusive interview”:
QUESTION: How does user self submission of stories jibe with “democratic” and “devoid of monetary motivations”? For example: 1) self-nominations have been problematic in democracies and 2) bloggers, writers and Websites submitting their own stories are driven by monetary motivations.
ROSE: Anyone can submit. There are 4000 newly submitted stories daily. We don’t have a problem with people submitting their own stories. It is not up to the person submitting story if it makes it to the front page. It is up to the community if that is something they want to see on the front page.
We know that it requires a much larger pool of people to promote the story to the front page. Regardless of source of story, it has to receive a lot of diggs from the community. It doesn’t matter what the motivation of the submitter is.
People are going to make money, when users click through to the stories, they have ads on the pages. We have sophisticated anti-gaming processes. We are spending a lot in R & D to prevent gaming. Motivations don’t matter.
Rose may believe the Digg algorithm trumps all, but practical experience proves otherwise.
Digg, however, is not the only Web 2.0 site relying on user submissions that is being gamed for financial gain. Some sites are gaming from the inside, to enhance the site’s own financial performance.
Yelp, a case in point: “To attract writers in new cities, the social network cum city guide is hiring freelancers to play the part of enthusiastic fans,” according to Business Week:
To help get established in a new locale, Yelp recruits paid “marketing assistants,” to promote the site not only through everyday interaction, but also by kicking off online discussions and adding comments to other people’s reviews to encourage reviewers to keep up the good work. Essentially, they help make Yelp appear to be a vibrant and outgoing community in hopes that it will actually become one.Bottom line? Yelp is creating a
sophisticated system of compensation that could create a model for building buzz around a fledgling Web site—or test the limits of paying users to contribute content.