Here’s a what if for you. What if the infamous Digg algorithm just one day up and went open source?!
It is the intangible looming force that keeps every Digg users from burying all submissions above and below their own. It keeps us from installing crazy Greasemonkey scripts and going down the list of our friends submissions – Digging forty posts a minute. The algorithm (or as some call it – Diggbrother) stops me from burying every possible duplicate every time I submit an article. I want to ask the algorithm exactly why the last three news stories I posted made it to the front page – but were submitted by some other users.
If that presence were open source I could put it under the monitorscope and give the answers to all the other paranoid users out there. Questions like, what exactly is my karma at? Does constantly hitting F5 on my own submission lower its chances of becoming popular? Does my vote actually count? The algorithm has been discussed by its creators and deconstructed by the experts, yet I’m still impressed by it all the time.
Lately I find myself frantic, trying to sleep, thinking about my most recent submission. Questioning why I didn’t submit that article on The Ultimate Leopard Tweaking Guide? It was promoted in less than ten hours! Maybe my submission on Composting the Dead didn’t go front page because it’s Saturday. Maybe I pissed off some users in the past and they automatically have me on bury! The algorithm could tell me, if it were open source.
Of course that is never happening. The verb gaming (meaning to cheat) would replace digging in this world of social media if we knew how Digg ticked. The walls would come down and the Viagra-deal pushers would finally know how to bypass that spam prevention shield that every honest Digger wears so proudly. This secretive program is the impalpable energy that keeps the highest rated content flowing organically and it is what so many try to conquer. Few have it down to a simple science. Others, like myself are still puzzled and nervous. Many are ignorant of its power and are just passing by – unaware of what is forcing us to submit what they read.
Oh well. Let the mystery and bureaucracy continue. One day I’ll crack it.