David Leonhardt’s SEO and Social Media Marketing

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Why Diggers will hate me today

How would you like to see your bank account password posted to the home page of Digg for all to see and hundreds of bloggers to pick up and post to their blogs as a result? Well, that’s pretty much what happened at Digg yesterday.

If you are not an avid geek newsmonger, you might have missed the riot, the madhouse, the uncontrolled and childish feeding frenzy that gripped Digg yesterday.

After the Digg management team pulled a story (rightly, in my opinion) that revealed a hacking code for new HD-DVDs, the Digg community went haywire. Several times I checked the home page of Digg yesterday, and each time there were stories about no other topic, and pretty well most of them repeated the hacking code.

On the one hand, Digg operates a free and open community, and is not responsible for what people post, especially since those posts are not actually content, but links to content elsewhere on the Web.

On the other hand, if you ran a website where users could post links for others to vote on or comment on, would you not remove a link to a web page of nude Vanessa Fox photos (sorry, inside SEO joke)?

Would you not remove a link to a website on how to create dangerous explosives in your basement?

Would you not remove a link to a site that promoted racial hatred?

Would you not remove a link to a video of a rape?

And what about a link to a page offering the code to illegally hack a company’s product? Digg removed the link. Too late, of course…once the cat’s out of the bag, but still the right thing to do.

In response, Digg was essentially shot down by its own member who wanted Digg to stand up in the name of principle, because they don’t like censorship. Well, neither do I. But this was not a matter of censoring opinion, the way they do in Russia or Iran or at most stockholder meetings. This was censoring the illegal publication of private information, just like your bank account password. I wonder how many people who mobbed Digg took the time to think about that. I suspect the mob might have been more like a twosome if they had.

Sadly, Digg founder Kevin Rose capitulated to the mobs in this post. I think that was the wrong thing to do, and I suppose that much of the mob that brought Digg to its knees yesterday will hate me today. Or perhaps, cooler heads will prevail, and some people will realize that things got just a little out of hand.

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