Who cares if it’s true, lets Digg it!

Written by: Adam Christianson

Categories: Editorial

Seems like the best way to get publicity (and hits) for your web site these days is to report on a highly questionable story with no supporting evidence or facts, tack on a Digg worthy headline about Apple selling porn to minors and sit back as the swarm attacks the honey pot. The original report appears on The Consumerist, a consumer watch dog blog, and as of this writing the 2 sentence post titled, “Apple Sells “Refreshed” Laptop Filled With Porn To 11 Year Old Girl” has garnered close to 1300 Diggs and is rising fast. Now to be fair the post does also include a transcript of a chat with a friend of the owner of the new, porn laden, MacBook. In the transcript the friend says the laptop was sold with a “desktop full of JPGs” containing porn. Later in the same chat though, he admits that he doesn’t know how much porn, what type of porn and there is no evidence of the porn as the owner already restored the machine from the original system DVD. Now of course this is hardly definitive evidence that the story isn’t true, but come on. True or not, my point is not many Diggers will even bother to read that far into the story. Heck, I doubt they even click anything other the “Digg it” link.

Refreshed or Refurbished

Now another problem with this story is that while the headline on the Consumerist website clearly states it was a “refreshed” MacBook, most blogs picking up the story are reporting it as a “refurbished” model. The semantics are subtle but there is a big difference. A “refreshed” model is basically an “open box” return. It was returned to the store, but not because of any defect. Could be buyers remorse, wrong model, etc. In these cases Apple services the unit in store. They basically look it over, run simple diagnostics and then are supposed to run the system restore CD/DVD (that comes with the model) to get the machine back into factory condition. Now on the slim chance this story is true then the Apple Store employees obviously forgot to do this procedure. A “reconditioned” model however, is one sent back to Apple due to some sort of defect. It is put through a much more rigorous process, restored and tested at a centralized facility. Again, if the story is actually true then the distinction between “refreshed” and “reconditioned” may go a long way to explaining why this unit slipped by.

As for the quality of stories on Digg, don’t get me wrong. I love Digg and I use it, but sometimes we need to remind ourselves what Digg is. Digg is a great indicator of what is socially hip on the web at any given moment, but hardly a bastion of links to highest quality news stories. I’m just sayin’.

There are 10 comments on Who cares if it’s true, lets Digg it!:

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  1. stevievep | Dec 01 2006 - 01:18

    Too true, Adam. I am a supporter and user of Digg too. I appreciate the fan base, good with the bad and I enjoy the Diggnation podcast with Alex and Kevin. I was overjoyed to attend their live ‘taping’ in La Jolla during the Comic-Con weekend here. There is some credibility to thousands of registered users clicking and making a story notable (as opposed to 3 or 4 ‘diggs’ on a major mainstream site like Netscape), but all in all there is a great deal of caveat emptor as applied to visitors who simply say ‘Front page of Digg = verified news’. Many times this is simply not the case. This is part of the allure of Digg. It never meant (at least in my opinion) to be a traditional news site, it is social news. In other words, the type of thing you would talk about in a water cooler or bar setting on the web with 1000s of participants. Good post, regardless of the validity of this particular story.

  2. Mike Talmadge | Dec 01 2006 - 05:34

    Here is a current extreme prime “SAD” example. http://digg.com/tech_news/Get_me_out_of_this_job

    P.S. I did not support it.

  3. Brent | Dec 01 2006 - 07:23

    {sigh} It seems that people, myself included, sometimes need to be reminded that not everything on the web is true. I’d like to think that I’m savvy enough to recognize a particularly questionable article, but I suffer from the same tendency to digg an article based on title and description alone.

    Now in slight defense, the amount of diggs doesn’t necessarily correlate to the number of believers in the article. I often use digg as a social bookmark tool for websites that I want to check later, but don’t want to add to my own bookmarks.

    Tangentially related, I wonder what percentage of diggs are, indeed, bookmarks for later use and not endorsements of a particular story.

  4. Justin Cook | Dec 01 2006 - 10:49

    hmm, I guess I’d better stop concentrating on quality content, and just get some dubious/controversial posts up on my site!

  5. jay | Dec 01 2006 - 10:55

    What’s funny is you are doing what you blog about. (the hits thing)

    “Seems like the best way to get publicity (and hits) for your web site these days…”

  6. Rikki-Tikki-Tavi | Dec 01 2006 - 10:58

    Moreover, Digg has become an instrument of shameless self-promotion. Political lobbyists have been found using Digg to drive traffic to their own sites, but otherwise contribute nothing to the Digg community.


  7. MacBigot | Dec 01 2006 - 10:24

    Once it made it, this editiorial sure disappeared from Digg’s front page fast!

  8. Jonathan | Dec 01 2006 - 09:28

    I remember seeing a post that talks about how many posts get dugg without even going to the corresponding website, and if they do, just give it a cursory look.

  9. HoGiHung | Dec 02 2006 - 08:51

    I used to like Digg alot. But of late, it is more about getting trash to the front page or insulting other people through the comment section. It appears to be ran by a group of “power diggers” and rarely are any of the follow up comments constructive. It is a shame because I think the intent of the website was great. Maybe the Digg staff can find a way to to set a level playing field. If not, hopefully they will have the right mind to dismantle the site.


  10. Jared | Dec 04 2006 - 07:33

    I think the problem is that digg does not make sure you view the story before you digg it. It would be nice if they could come up with a way to view the actual story without navigating to far away from the page.