An open letter to Digg from top Digg users

The following is an open letter for Kevin Rose, Jay Adelson and the rest of the Digg management, given to us by a number of top Digg users who have been unable to get any sort of dialogue going with the company which operates the social news site. Valleywag does not endorse this letter, but we like the idea of hearing from Digg about what's going on. And because the whole ruckus is entertaining.

We, the undersigned (comment to join), are ready to find out if there is more to social bookmarking than Digg. We are going to stop submitting to Digg. The alternatives are plenty — now is the time to venture into new territory. As we organize, we will evaluate and find a new space.

When a digital identity, like a Digg account, becomes penalized through its consistent interaction with a website we assume that site falls into one of two categories. Either (a) the site in question is ill-suited to become a healthy social network or (b) the premise of the social network is such that it is based on competition.
Digg is, in part, a game. It always has been — and that is one of the reasons we love it. That it helped us share useful, entertaining or interesting content only made it that much more fun.

Unfortunately the rules to the game have never been under the community's full control. As far as we can tell, the rule-makers barely listen to us. The latest change in the algorithm, along with rumors of secret editors, auto-buries, etc., have led us to believe it is time to break ties with Digg.com.

Here are a list of the main charges against Digg:

1) Lack of communication and disregard for the Digg community
Digg is not a newspaper, a magazine, or a blog. It produces no content of its own and is entirely dependent upon its users for traffic. Digg users hunt down the stories online, craft the descriptions and titles, digg the stories, provide all the comments. Despite this dependency, anecdotal evidence suggests that Digg has repeatedly failed to respond to its users and address their concerns.

2) Unexplained and unacknowledged banning of top users
cGt2099, Emobrat, and others who have submitted hundreds of quality stories to Digg were recently banned under suspicious circumstances. Digg did not acknowledge these bannings, nor make any public explanation as to why they took place. These are not the actions of a "democratic news site."

3) Lack of transparency — Digg only shows you the stories that people have dugg, but not the ones that are buried.
This has resulted in the birth and flourishing of bury brigades, whose existence has gone unacknowledged, but which undoubtedly have the capability to shape what content gets onto the front page without any interference or objection from other Digg users.

4) The auto-bury list - For months, dozens of sites have been on an auto-bury list, often with no explanation whatsoever.
These sites often get submitted to Digg and then are invariably buried after a certain amount of time. While it's up to Digg what sites it wants to allow, it's important that if it brands itself as a democratic news site, it makes clear why it bans these sites.

5) Repeated and flagrant disrespect of its top users
Digg's top users generate roughly 30-50% of Digg's front page content but repeated and unexplained changes to the Digg algorithm have penalized the ability of top users to get front page stories promoted. Perhaps worst of all, this has resulted in other stories from lower ranked users with less diggs being forced off the "Hot In Upcoming" pages and hurt their ability to shine.

In short — the site has become too powerful a media force and its lack of transparency and faith in the community is reason for concern. In addition, the allure of instant traffic has led to the manipulation and abuse of the site by trolls and spammers.

The collective "WE" built this site from the ground up and while it is sad to leave it, the time has come to move on. We as a loose group of social bookmarkers will find a new community that will allow us to stay in touch and stay informed.

If Digg is a game then we are ready to play for keeps. What happens if the most powerful users in the community decide to leave? Will others join? Is Digg anything without us? Let's prove it.

—Andy Sorcini (mrbabyman), David Cohn (DigiDave), Muhammad Saleem (msaleem), Reg Saddler (zaibatsu)