One of the big gripes on Digg is the bury system used by the community to moderate submissions. A lot of people complain about it and I'm going to take a few minutes to talk about it.

Digg uses a system know as the "bury" system to allow users to moderate stories. Unlike Digging, the bury system is a "Wisdom of Crowds" system as you have no way of knowing a stories "buried" status until it is buried and gone.

Netscape uses a "Report" system where users report a story for moderation. Once a story gets enough reports a Navigator (or hired moderator) looks at the story and decides what to do.

Both systems work for their respective sites but Netscape's system is far less likely to be gamed than Digg's system.

Because Digg relies on the "Wisdom of Crowds" idea it is very easy to contact your friends and tell them to bury a story, thus breaking the system.

I recently had a story get on Digg, get a few Diggs and then be buried. That story was this one. It was my blog entry about the comments made by Leo Laporte in regards to the failed Digg acquisition by New Corp.

Interestingly enough, another blog entry, on the same subject, made the front page several weeks ago.

Another thing long time Diggers may have noticed is that, in the past, if a story was in the process of being buried a box of red text would be placed above the story warning users that the story was in dispute for possible inaccuracies or what-not. Rather then the story vanishing it would just be marked as a potential bad story.

With that system we at least had some idea that a story was on it's way to going away. Yes, even frontpaged stories often had this marking, especialy in the early days of the politics area being added to Digg.

The problem I, and many other users have, is the lack of transparency and editorial oversight on Digg. With all the recent algorthym changes and stories of Digg being gamed I find myself losing faith in the Digg. When I see cases of two people submitting the same story only minutes apart but the "top Digger" gets his story promoted even though it is a dupe of a story submitted by a new Digger I get worried.

Hey Kevin, how about putting some transparency into Digg? Let us know how the system works so you can earn our trust back. Let us know if being a "Top Digger" somehow gives your Digg extra power in getting stories promoted. Or has Digg become the new Animal Farm, where some Diggers are "more equal" than others?

I understand that revealing who buried a story can quickly lead to a flame war but... We need to know that the burying is organic in nature and not just some guy sitting around censoring stories.

UPDATE: A similar submission to Digg was just buried after only 1 hour and 16 minutes! It looks like the heavy hand of the Digg "Secret Editorial Board" is at it again!

Update 2: This story was buried in 22 minutes on Digg!

However, a Digger milocat called me out as troll:

okay...

"Both the promotion system and the bury system are guarded secrets. I'm just looking for a bit more transparency in this department."

you explain to me in EXPLICIT details how digg can give that information out w/o allowing users to even further game the system, prevent flame wars on EVERY story, AND have their "guarded secrets" not getting ripped off? give me a decent EXPLICIT and DETAILED solution on how they would do that w/o crippling the site. if you can't then you're just complaining to be heard. complaints w/o solutions are worth nothing.

He makes a very good point that I am coming off as a whiny blogger so I responded:

Milo,

In regards to promoting stories:

Kevin has already stated that both a users popularity/ranking on Digg and their time on digg is a factor in the weight their diggs give to a story making the home page. He has also said that new users go into a sandbox for a while to avoid people making dupe accounts for the purpose of story promotion.

We have a decently clear amount of information on who Dugg a story, but it would also be useful to see next to each user when they Dugg the story.

I don't expect anything like the "swarm" feature to show me which user is a friend of which user in real time though it would be a nice feature to be able to look at as a separate link.

In regards to burying stories...

It would be nice to know how many and what sort of buries a story got and the timing on them. Don't tell who buried the story as that would lead to a flame war.

The two could be mixed together as well so we could see a time stamped history of the story. This would enable you to truly see how the crowd reacted to a story. Was there a few diggs followed by a few buries. Was there just a massive swarm of buries?

One of the best parts of Digg is the comment system, as long as the users leaving the comments are truly willing to discuss the issue at hand. I'll respect any Digg user who is willing to talk about the issue at hand rather than just throw around useless one liners.

Milo's response:

fantastic...now edit your lame blog to have your above comment rather than empty conspiracy theories. :) seriously.

keep in mind, you DO get to see buries, diggs, comments, etc. in real time on digg spy. but i think showing timestamps of when a bury happens will also show how many buries it takes to remove stories. idk if its a hard number or based on other things but that brings it's own set of problems...including users finding out a bury algorithm, if there even is one.

thanks for giving examples, that was stand-up. and i dugg your comment. but angry and aimless blogging is MORE detrimental to digg than mass burying. (1) it clutters up the upcoming section (2) digg should be positive on the whole, why not just email digg instead trying to be a hellraiser/whistle-blower? you say you don't know the actual reason a story was buried, did you email and ask?

Milo is right, digg spy does provide real-time information on the flow of Diggs, comments and buries. So why can't this time-stamped information be a part of the stories entry?

I think it would help greatly if this were the case.

As an additional item, why not include a special image in the Digg history for when the story was promoted? Or would that cause more trouble than it's worth?

I understand some people might take that sort of information and write some "Ah hah!" pieces about how certain diggers Diggs are "more equal" than others.