I’ve been visiting Digg.com for a long time, and recently I’ve noticed that the volume of diggs for frontpage stories seems to have dropped.  The last few months it has just seemed to me that there are a lot of stories on the homepage that have 200-300 diggs, where six months or a year ago I remember the vast majority of homepage stories having 500+ votes.  So I decided to take a look.

Digg’s homepage includes a featured called “Top in All Topics,” which lists the ten most popular stories on the site, presumably for the last twenty four hours (it doesn’t say).   Using the Wayback Machine, I went back and looked at how many diggs the top stories got on random days in the past compared to today.  The chart below shows the range.

Date Day of Week Diggs for #1 Story Diggs for #5 Story Diggs for #10 Story
Today Friday 2,186 833 571
4/1/2008 Tuesday 7,438 1,794 1,304
3/7/2008 Wednesday 2,344 1,360 870
7/12/2007 Friday 2,025 1,309 839
4/7/2007 Saturday 1,992 1,318 825
1/24/2007 Thursday 3,079 1,439 933

From my reading, this shows that the number of diggs for the very top story on Digg has remained fairly consistent the last two years, with the occasional blockbuster breaking the 5,000+ digg barrier.  However, as you’ll see the number of votes for the fifth and tenth most popular stories on the site are much lower than in the past. 

  • The average fifth place story for the days I looked at in 2007 and 2008 averaged 1,444 diggs.  Today’s fifth most popular story has 833 diggs.
  • The average tenth place story in 2007 and 2008 averaged 954 diggs.  Today’s fifth most popular story has 571 diggs.

While my quick study is certainly unscientific and there could be an explanation that I’m missing, I think these findings are a pretty good indication that people aren’t digging as many stories as they did in the past.  A drop in digging activity would be a pretty clear sign that the service is losing some traction. 

As to why, my guess would be Twitter

I personally have been using Digg  less the last six months as Twitter has become my primary method for discovering new content.  I suspect others are spending less time on Digg as well.

In addition, on many of the blogs and websites I work on (including this one) we’ve removed the “digg this” button we had traditionally used and replaced it with a retweet button.  In the past three years, our blog has been on the homepage of Digg twice.  Both times we got on the homepage due to a prominent Digg user finding our story – not because of our “digg this” button.  So we gave up, and decided to focus on the retweet button instead since we weren’t getting much of a return from the Digg button.  I suspect other designers are making similar decisions.

Do you buy my theory?

About the Author
Todd Zeigler
Todd Zeigler serves as the Brick Factory’s chief strategist and oversees the operations of the firm. In his sixteen year career in digital, he has planned and implemented campaigns for clients including the Pickens Plan, International Youth Foundation, Panthera, Edison Electric Institute, and the American Chemistry Council. Todd develops ambitious online advocacy programs, manages crises, implements online marketing strategies, and develops custom applications and software. He is bad at golf though.