Manipulating Digg

Martin Brinkmann
Apr 30, 2007
Updated • Jun 16, 2013

Digg is one of the most important social news sites on the Internet. It is not completely user driven but comes close to that. Every registered user may submit links which are then added to the website and enter the voting process.

Those links - with a title and short description - stay in the upcoming stories section for no more than 24 hours. Users may also vote on submissions which increases a submissions' popularity on the site increasing the chance that it is moved to the frontpage of the service where it gets more exposure.


When a story reaches a certain amount of votes in that 24 hour period it will be published on the frontpage of Digg making it a very popular article throughout the Internet. Digg sends a large amount of visitors to that site as soon as the article hits the frontpage.

Besides that, other websites report about this story as well and send even more visitors to the site. Most say that the visitors that are send this way are useless for the website. Many website owners fear the Digg effect, the effect that a server crashes due to the load that all the visitors from Digg cause.

The system seems fair at first glance. Every user has one vote and can submit stories. If enough users like the story it gets promoted. This is indeed a fine system if it there were not for users who manipulate the votes either way. Some webmasters will manipulate a system if it benefits their websites. And the votes and stories on Digg can be easily manipulated in two ways.

The first way is the more obvious one. If you need X diggs to make it to the frontpage you create a group of webmasters, friends, relatives and people that get paid to digg so that your submissions rise in popularity quickly regardless of their quality. Whenever you publish a link on Digg you send that group a message and they start digging the story like crazy.

Many webmasters prefer to get digged a lot in the first hour after publishing the article because articles with many votes in a short period of time attract more users and therefore more votes. Other users will recognize the article and the ball gets rolling.

Webmasters who manipulate Digg want between 15-30 votes from people they know every time they submit an article to and the rest of the necessary votes will be given by the Digg community itself.

The second method manipulates Digg the other way round. Instead of voting on their own stories to give them more votes, those webmasters report stories to digg as "spam or inaccurate" or the like to bury it before it can reach the frontpage. This system works pretty well, let me explain how it can be that articles get buried down just a few minutes after they have been published at Digg.

I personally think that the friend list is the key. If you add someone as your friend you see all submissions, diggs and comments. Instead of adding real friends you add users as friends that you want to harm by burying their stories. Whenever such a users posts an article you see it immediately and send an email to your friends who help you bury it.

By manipulating articles that deal with a certain topic they can push their articles - the only ones that do not get buried - to the frontpage. This is like creating a monopoly on certain news items on Digg.

Both ways of manipulating Digg have no justification and the Digg team should do everything in their might to prohibit Digg gaming. Instead of burying stories it could be very useful to make it possible to vote negatively for a story which would subtract one positive vote from the article. This would make it much harder to bury articles in the first minutes of appearance.

Someone suggested that Digg should prevent that articles can be voted for by direct linking to them but I do not think that this is practicable at all. Many plugins for websites and browsers like Firefox exist that rely on this feature. How many websites have you seen lately that have "digg this" buttons all over their articles ?

Digg could probably analyze gaming patterns and manipulate those accounts as well. Instead of banning them outright their votes would not count anymore. It would be shown but it would not count. Same would apply to buries. Have another idea ? Let me hear it.

Update: Digg has been acquired by another company recently which has changed the system significantly.


Tutorials & Tips

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm


    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.