A Day in the Life of a Digg

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A Day in the Life of a Digg

Post: # 29216Post Egaladeist
Sat Jul 29, 2006 3:18 pm

A Day in the Life of a Digg
by Marios Alexandrou, Project Manager
Tuesday, June 13, 2006

If you haven't heard of social bookmarking sites, you're missing out on a new web phenomenon. In a nutshell, social bookmarking sites allow you to store links to web pages you like on a publicly accessible web site where others can see them. The benefit of this sharing is that you expose others to content that they may not have encountered. Similarly, you may see content from others that you wouldn't normally have come across.

There's an added benefit to web site owners too. If a link to their page becomes popular i.e. is bookmarked many times or receives many votes, then there usually follows an explosion of traffic. It's this second benefit that I wanted to explore and which is the basis of the following post.
Experiment Setup
After a little research I found an article (from a major publisher who's web logs I have access to) that I thought would be appropriate for Digg. I chose the Deals category for the article because that seemed like one area that didn't get as much attention as other areas. I figured my submission had a better chance of standing out in this category. The following describes my observations.
Just before 2:00pm
Article submitted to the deals category. I provide my own description and pull a quote from the article that I found interesting. Within a minute or two the submission is receiving diggs i.e. votes by other users.
Around 2:30pm
My submission is averaging about 1 digg every 2 minutes. I have no idea if that's really good or just mediocre. But at least I'm getting confirmation that the article is indeed of interest to over 30 people. I was a bit worried about this as I didn't want to appear is if I was spamming the service.

On the web page traffic side, I notice an almost immediate increase in page views. Not a whole lot mind you, but since the article in question had received 0 page views the previous 7 days, it was clear that the new traffic was due to people coming from Digg. Also, the 30 or so diggs has translated in to about 175 page views. Clearly, not everyone that visits the article is digging it. That's not surprising, but I had no idea what the ratio would be.

Only one comment has been submitted so far. This is probably in large part because the article isn't controversial i.e. it doesn't prompt readers to express an opinion. Those that liked it probably "commented" with a digg. It would be redundant to say you liked it after digging it.
Around 3:00pm
Looking at the users that dugg the article, I noticed that only a handful have ever submitted a bookmark themselves. Interesting. I wonder if getting a "superstar" would have a snowball effect on diggs. Probably not something I'm going to get an answer to this time around.

I also now have a second comment. Someone has now indicated their favorite quote from the article.

At around 45 diggs the article I submitted has been bumped in to the Deals homepage. Not the site's homepage mind you, just out of the review queue that all submissions must go through. No way to tell if it is the number of diggs or the rate of the diggs that resulted in this status change.

Surprisingly, traffic has decreased. Rate of diggs also decreasing. What's going on?
Around 4:00pm
No more diggs and traffic now down to a trickle. This seems a little strange to me. It's almost as if getting promoted to the Deals homepage actually resulted in lower visibility.

The only new thing I noticed is that the article is now marked as a "buried story". I initially have no idea what this means, but it does seem to explain why the activity stopped in such an unnatural way. After some more research I discover that stories will be buried if they receive enough negative reports from users. The number of negative reports required depends on the number of diggs. There's a longer explanation by the Digg moderators if you're interested. There are others that believe that moderators will actually step in an bury a story regardless of its popularity.

An alternative explanation is that while the submission was receiving diggs from users, it was also being reported by users as being "lame" or "inappropriate". Apparently enough of these reports and a submission will get buried.
Shortly before 5:00pm
No more diggs, but traffic seems to be increasing again. How strange. And then it occurs to me to look at the referrer logs. Sure enough, it appears that someone has submitted the same article to reddit, another social bookmarking site. That's a pleasant side-effect I hadn't counted on. The submission by this other user has made it to the position 32 of the reddit "hot" listings.
Just after 6:00pm
Traffic from reddit looks like it will soon surpass traffic from Digg. Fascinating.

I'm closing shop now. That's it for day 1.
7:30am the Second Day
No change with Digg. Traffic from reddit continues to stream in. On an hourly basis, there is more non-Digg traffic now than there was from Digg in total.

It also seems that someone has bookmarked the article on Del.icio.us prompting many others to also bookmark it. As a result, there is a lot of traffic coming in from Del.icio.us. In addition, there is traffic coming in from PopUrls which is a site I hadn't heard of before. Its purpose seems to be to aggregate popular items from the various social bookmark services.
2:00pm on the Second Day
Traffic continued to grow all morning and peaked around 11:00am. Since then, page views per hour have been decreasing. I'm guessing that the submission has rolled off the most visible lists. One new site picked up the article, LifeHack.org (not to be confused with the more popular LifeHacker.com), but traffic from that site was negligible.
Around 6:00pm on the Second Day
Definite downtrend in traffic. It'll probably hit 0 later tonight. I think that just about wraps up this experiment. It was a good learning experience for me and I hope it was for you to. If you happen to have reported on similar activities, let me know. I'd love to see if what I've described is typical or not.
Day 3 and Day 4
Even though I figured my experiment was over on Day 2, I couldn't resist checking the logs again on Day 3 and Day 4. As expected, there was next to now traffic on Day 3. However, on Day 4, traffic jumped again. It seems another site (I Am Bored) has picked up the submission. No complaints here.
Traffic Graph
And for those of you that like graphs, here's a snapshot of the traffic over the course of the first two days of this experiment.

http://www.mariosalexandrou.com/blog/index.asp?post=194
A Day in the Life of a Digg



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