Why del.icio.us is Better than digg

I’ve been thinking about this for quite awhile, but was finally prompted to write about it after reading a good piece on Download Squad titled “Why digg is destined for failure“. In it, blogger Jason Clarke details why he believes the “social news” site is fundamentally flawed and why website traffic generated by it isn’t worth the time, effort, and expense. It’s a good analysis that I think is pretty much spot-on.

So, onto my own thought. While Web 2.0 services like digg and del.icio.us tend to be lumped together for the sake of convince, I believe the two are totally different animals.

Digg purports to be a social news site where users submit and vote for content instead of it being picked by an assumed-to-be biased editor. Kevin Rose even created the site with the ambition of being a more democratic version of Slashdot.

The problem with digg, which is well documented, is that “diggers” tend to display a lot of groupthink. Some digg a story just because their friends did, or because it’s already popular. So, digg is essentially a popularity contest. That’s not to say you can’t find good content on it – you can. It’s that the types of content you find are mostly limited to technology, gaming, and videos, reflecting the background of the 1% of digg users that actually submit stories and the likely 10% that digg them up and down.

Del.icio.us is different. The primary goal isn’t to post content so that it becomes popular – it’s to store and organize website bookmarks for yourself or a group of people. I believe this difference is the key. Del.icio.us users are, for the most part, acting in their own self interest – find and store links to websites so that they can find them again in the future. The “socialness” of del.icio.us is almost a side effect, which is reflected in the depth of items you can find tagged on the site.

While I have no data to back this claim up, I think a much higher percentage of del.icio.us users are active contributors than digg users, again because the motivation is different. I believe this behavior is a better match to the ideas of The Wisdom of Crowds than digg user’s because aggregated individual decisions (made out of self interest) paint a better picture than one drawn by the mob.

Having said that, I don’t think it matters much in any case…

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