December 5, 2007
Has success gone to Digg's head? The popular community destination, which drives lots of traffic to needy news sites and blogs (like yours truly's) has decided to update its story-input interface. It's a mistake; a big mistake.Used to be that Digg had a fairly clunky, but effective, interface, through which you entered the URL of the story you wanted to put into its queue, so that readers could vote for (aka "Digg") it. The more Diggs, the higher the story rose, so that a story with several hundred Diggs (and sometimes as few as 70 Diggs, depending on the rotation) would make it onto the home page.
Stuff so positioned would get tens of thousands of click-throughs, hence the importance of Digg as a referrer for blogs and news sites both large and small. You read that right: even sites as seemingly high and mighty as InformationWeek and competitors like ZDNet, eWeek, and ComputerWorld love to get a story high up on Digg, and benefit greatly from such traffic. Like I was saying, the old Digg interface was clunky and not exactly fast (it wasn't overly slow; I'd characterize it as adequate). But it worked. The other day, a newly designed interface appeared without warning on Digg. The problem with it is that the story-input process has now gone from the way I described it above (i.e., somewhat, but not too, slow) to really, really slow. Why? Possibly because some genius has decided that, after each entry screen, Digg should go swirling off into the wild Web yonder to check some parameters. Digg's looking to see whether a story already has been posted, and perhaps it's mining Digg for related content earlier on than it used to. But Digg did all these things before without getting in the user's face like it does now. Here's a screen shot to show what the new interface looks like, and how it dawdles (click to see the sequence of 5 shots, which show you all the steps you have to wade through):
Digg's new story-input interface is fancier, and slower, than the original. (Click picture to enlarge, and to see the other 4 in this sequence.)
The one improvement is that Digg no longer fritzes out when you go too long on the description portion of the template. Previously, if you went one character over, it would chop that whole block back to empty. On the negative side, though, when you preview your submission, you no longer get to see whether you entered the link correctly, cause the roll-over now shows "digg.com/submit" for everything. So the Digg folks violated rule No. 1 of good design, which is, don't screw up what previously worked just fine. Anyway, I find this whole thing really dispiriting, because I thought sites with garage-shop pedigrees such as Digg were immune from the corporate nonsense that winds up making many bigger sites so bloated in comparison. Are the Digg folks suddenly getting delusions of grandeur amid the insane Web 2.0 valuations which are being tossed around these days? Did they all sit in a conference room and decide they have to plan out some really cool revision to bring them into the "adult" world? Hey, guys, go back to playing pool in the basement, or wherever it was you were doing before you decided to tart up your site with unnecessary slowness. The only problem is, as shark-jumping as the new Digg is, I'm stuck. What am I going to do? Go to AOL News's Propeller? I think not. I like reddit, but it's not as tech-oriented. I guess I'll hold my noise and continue to Digg the site I used to really dig, but now just kind of like for old-time's sake.
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