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How to game Digg and the blogosphere

Warning: rant follows... Lately I've been seeing some masterful gaming of both Digg and the blogosphere by bloggers I know and/or have seen pop up recently around these parts.

Warning: rant follows... Lately I've been seeing some masterful gaming of both Digg and the blogosphere by bloggers I know and/or have seen pop up recently around these parts. There are a lot of bloggers doing this, some of them very cynically To be honest it's pissing me off because I spend a lot of time on some of my own posts, but they don't garner nearly as much attention as those people gaming the system. I shouldn't piss and moan, because it's simply human nature that those other bloggers are exploiting. Sadly, it's easy to game Digg or the blogosphere by following a few simple rules. Let's look at an example...

Marc Fawzi wrote an interesting post recently about how easily a sensationalistic heading and a 'xyz vs Google' theme can pull in the page views:

"I had written a post (see link at the end of this article) about the Semantic Web, domain specific knowledge ontologies and Google as seen from a Google-centric view. I went on about how Google, using Semantic Web and an AI-driven inference engine, would eventually develop into an omnipresent intelligence (a global mind) and how that would have far reaching implications etc. The post was titled “Reality as a Service (RaaS): The Case for GWorld.” I submitted it to digg and I believe I got a few diggs and one good comment on it. That’s all. I probably got 500 hits in total on that post, and mostly because I used the word “Gworld” in the title.

More than a week after that, I took the same post, the same idea of combining the Semantic Web, domain-specific knowledge ontologies and an AI-driven inference engine but this time I pitted Wikipedia (as the most likely developer of knowledge ontologies) against Google, and posted it with the sensational but quite plausible title “Wikipedia 3.0: The End of Google.” The crowd went wild.

I got over 33,000 hits in the first 24 hours. And as of the latest count about 1600 diggs."

What Marc did is no different to what a lot of bloggers do to gain attention and page views. Digg is in fact an easy target, because if a blogger writes a post about Digg that takes one of either extreme (i.e. praises it, or attacks it in some way) - it's got a very good chance of making the Digg homepage. Slashdot on the other hand is much harder to game, because its editors (i.e. gatekeepers) are very strict on what stories make it onto Slashdot. Blogging about how Slashdot readers suck won't make it onto Slashdot, but blogging about how Digg readers suck almost certainly will make it onto Digg.

A similar formula applies to the blogosphere, no matter what part you come from - tech, politics, etc. You just need to identify the hot topics and then game away. In the tech blogosphere for example, Google is a hot topic and almost guaranteed to bring in the hits. Especially if you are controversial and/or pick an argument with other bloggers. That's why the snarky or cynical bloggers are so popular - because it's easy to gain attention by dissing something. It's also why there are so many extreme, black/white opinions amongst bloggers. It's like politics in a way: pick the right or the left and try to shout down the opposition.

There are a lot of bloggers doing this, some of them very cynically. I'm not sure what to do about it, because I'd prefer to write a post about an up-and-coming technology like System One than to write a snarky post about Digg just so I can get on Digg, or YAPAG (Yet Another Post About Google) just to attract links and comments. But I guess life in the blogosphere is darwinian and you have to adapt to the environment.