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Monday, September 13, 2010

What Can Be learned from New Digg’s Failure?

Chris Kortschot

For those of you who don’t know Digg is (was) a social media site in which users or Diggers submit news articles, funny stories, new memes, and then vote or Digg the ones they like. The end result is that stories with the most Diggs rise to the top and are typically much more interesting than the stories with fewer Diggs.

It is a fantastic idea that has become the foundation of many other sites on the web. The main draw for users is the fact that they are being given news by other normal, typically unbiased citizens. It is something that you cannot truly get in conventional media.

Recently, Digg launched the much anticipated New Digg or Digg v4 and no one could have anticipated the result. For lack of a more descriptive phrase it crashed and it burned. As an avid Digger myself, I was devastated by the complete lack of functionality, design, and most importantly content that I had come to expect on my most frequented site.

But in addition to being devastated by the internet giant, I was completely shocked that they could make such enormous mistakes. Hadn’t they done their homework? Didn’t they realize how much the Digg community depended on an unbiased source of news and comedy?

What happened to Digg is not unique and is common in company or product overhauls. Digg hired the best people to make the best site. Sounds like a good idea doesn’t it?

Sure you always want the best people but it is important to remember that just because they are the best does not mean they know what is right. The end user is the only one who can tell you what is right or wrong and the day you come to believe that you are smarter than them is the day you lose them as a customer.

Digg did the homework. They knew what made Diggers come back five times a day. But their fatal flaw was that they disregarded those ideas and decided that they knew best.

Since the launch of New Digg a couple weeks ago, their traffic has plummeted, the total Diggs per day has dropped off considerably, and their competitors are soaring ahead. At this point the only way for the internet mogul to get back on its feet is the same way they got their in the first place; by listening to their customers!

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