The digg black market {via John Gruber} October 2, 2006 11:53 AM   Subscribe

The digg black market {via John Gruber}. This is a bad omen for mathowie's community weblog.
posted by evariste to MetaFilter-Related at 11:53 AM (87 comments total)

matt will pay every user .50 to ignore this story.
posted by quonsar at 11:55 AM on October 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


quonsar, why didn't you tell me before I clicked the link?! WHY!
posted by graventy at 11:59 AM on October 2, 2006


graventy, just sign up for a sock puppet and then use that sock puppet to not read it.
posted by evariste at 12:07 PM on October 2, 2006


matt will pay every user .50 to ignore this story.

.50 whats?
posted by dersins at 12:09 PM on October 2, 2006


Looks like there's some spelling errors there:

This story: Matt will ignore every half a user
posted by blue_beetle at 12:11 PM on October 2, 2006


I'm not signing up to find out exactly how it works, but what's stopping someone at Digg signing up as a User at usersubmitter.com, then deleting every link the system sends for promotion?
posted by jack_mo at 12:19 PM on October 2, 2006


How does this affect MeFi again?
posted by mzurer at 12:20 PM on October 2, 2006


This isn't a bad omen -- there is no voting here.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 12:21 PM on October 2, 2006 [6 favorites]


This isn't a bad omen -- there is no voting here.

I marked your comment as a favourite because I think it is very true.
posted by chrismear at 12:28 PM on October 2, 2006 [2 favorites]


mathowie-it's a bad omen because the same people who apparently find it's worth paying $20 to be on Digg's front page are going to look for other web properties to "invest" in spamming. I have a morbid fascination with Digg's bad effects. It's now moved on from spawning mutual ideological spamming societies (like the lew rockwell libertarian spamming scandal that was uncovered, which also afflicted Reddit) to organized spamming for money. Broken windows theory: the slum known as Digg, being so easy to game, is creating subcultures of spammers who may move on to nicer neighborhoods like Reddit and maybe MeFi. Already happened with the lewrockwell/mises spam: it started on Digg and spread to Reddit. Bad behavior is contagious and spreading.

$5 is way cheaper than $20, and no one has to be paid to vote to get it onto the MeFi front page. By the way, I'm almost certain that those expensive real estate listings that were MeTa'ed recently were spam, although you and jessamyn were keeping an open mind last I checked.
posted by evariste at 12:32 PM on October 2, 2006


Any sufficiently undetectable comment spam is indistinguishable from good worthwhile comments.
posted by smackfu at 12:34 PM on October 2, 2006 [2 favorites]


Read/Write Web's take.
posted by peacay at 12:35 PM on October 2, 2006


Slum is an insufficient description. Digg is more akin to a blighted neighborhood than a slum. It's not all bad, but it's getting pretty decrepit and not a whole lot gets done about it.
posted by evariste at 12:36 PM on October 2, 2006


I'm almost certain that those expensive real estate listings that were MeTa'ed recently were spam

Are you listening to yourself speak? Do you really think a reader of mefi has $7 million and $70 million to spend on a new house?

We operate the site based on watching user patterns and behavior. If the same people post about the same thing, there could be a problem, and if stuff is lame, it certainly gets axed soon after. A random dude linked to two high profile real estate things that people thought were mildly interesting. If he does it a third time, he probably is up to no good, but in the meantime, he is mostly harmless.

I think this pay-to-digg thing will never go far and be easily outed here if it does come up.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 12:38 PM on October 2, 2006


I agree with smackfu. For $20.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:38 PM on October 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


Well, it's already been determined that the vast majority of front page articles on digg are from a core group of very dedicated users; one or two stories will make it in from outside groups who are orchestrated enough to apply the right leverage to the votes at the right time, and they have been modifying the ratio to avoid promoting stories that are gamed in this way.

I really don't see how it applies here, there is always going to be someone who is willing to waste his $5 and take a banhammer in the rearend. It's usually quite apparent, and even if a few have slid by I feel they will all be caught eventually. You'd have to maintain quite a facade to intersperse links that are on the edge and still maintain face...

it's a bad omen because the same people who apparently find it's worth paying $20 to be on Digg's front page

I'd assume nobody has paid that website a dime, and vice-versa. Seems like you are assuming they are a profitable/legitimate enterprise, without metrics on their performance it's impossible to judge, but I'd be willing to bet it's a complete and utter failure and a product of individuals who have the mindset to game a site in the first place. A leech waiting to grab hold of a tick, if you will.
posted by prostyle at 12:40 PM on October 2, 2006


wow ... so i can have the hordes of pitchfork and torch equipped peasants howling at me and getting all my real-life information to put out on the web and earn the princely sum of 10 cents for everytime i do it?

i'm quitting gigalo school! ... THIS is a career opportunity!
posted by pyramid termite at 12:43 PM on October 2, 2006


I just want to tell everyone it was a fun ride while it lasted. Cheers!
posted by chunking express at 12:43 PM on October 2, 2006


Couldn't digg shut down the pay-to-digg site?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:44 PM on October 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


matt-Are you listening to yourself speak? Do you really think a reader of mefi has $7 million and $70 million to spend on a new house?

Metafilter has very high pagerank. You do the math-owie.

prostyle- It's usually quite apparent, and even if a few have slid by I feel they will all be caught eventually. You'd have to maintain quite a facade to intersperse links that are on the edge and still maintain face...

I don't think most spammers are very concerned about maintaining a facade so much as achieving short- to medium-term results. They can always spend another fiver using someone's stolen identity for a new account if they've been banned and they need to spam again.
posted by evariste at 12:46 PM on October 2, 2006


I can really only envision this as a potential problem at the margins. Not so much from contagious behaviour but because material posted on secondary sites perhaps get linked here because they are getting airtime at Digg. You know, a story reported on a blog that wants exposure gets dugg and then someone (maybe inadvertently) posts it here.

But we are a skeptical bunch and our overlords are generally swift to remove riffraff, blog rants and weak guff.
posted by peacay at 12:47 PM on October 2, 2006


Are you listening to yourself speak? Do you really think a reader of mefi has $7 million and $70 million to spend on a new house?

You're a web-savvy real estate agent in a sharply slowing market, and you have some listings that have been sitting unsold for months. Don't you go after every edge you can get? What's $5 compared to the commission on a $7 million house?
posted by evariste at 12:50 PM on October 2, 2006


What are the economics, here? What's the payoff for, say, a $1000 paid digging? What would that by, as far as clickthrough and visibility?

Independent of which, yeah, it doesn't transfer to MeFi directly. And the presence of gaming-minded shyster is not a new phenomenon.
posted by cortex at 12:53 PM on October 2, 2006


what would that buy
posted by cortex at 12:55 PM on October 2, 2006


cortex. You should write jingles promoting products and post them to mefi music. You could be richer than richie rich.
posted by dios at 12:59 PM on October 2, 2006


This isn't a bad omen -- there is no voting here.

I marked your comment as a favorite because I really want to remember it, so I can refer back to it at a later date.
posted by Afroblanco at 1:01 PM on October 2, 2006


cortex, it could buy a lot of things. Reach, attention from influencers, hits for ad-supported websites, SERPs, and apparently, in the case of the libertarian spammers, attention for their ideology. Also, spammers don't have to be rational economic actors. Usually they are, but plenty aren't.

If it's worth more than $20 to get on Digg's front page (leaving aside the legitimate question of whether that site actually does any business worth speaking of or not), isn't it worth more than $5 to get on MetaFilter's front page, with no possibility of being "un-dugg" off the front page unless your spam is blatant and quickly called-out and deleted? You have to convince more people to vote for you than to vote against you to stay on Digg's front page. It could look easier to a spammer to get on MetaFilter's front page and go undetected.
posted by evariste at 1:02 PM on October 2, 2006


Why so doom and gloom? They've been paying me for ye... never mind.
posted by crunchland at 1:36 PM on October 2, 2006


What's $5 compared to the commission on a $7 million house?

Compared to the chances that someone reading mefi is buying $7 million homes, you might as well spend that $5 on lottery tickets. I think your chances would be markedly better.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:36 PM on October 2, 2006


matt-Are you listening to yourself speak? Do you really think a reader of mefi has $7 million and $70 million to spend on a new house?

Metafilter has very high pagerank. You do the math-owie.


I don't think you understand the high-end real estate market, evariste. Nobody's trying to boost the page rank for their $75 million-dollar listings. They don't need to.

The potential market for a home like that is very, very small, and they don't search the web to see what's out there. They already know.

Or, rather, their "people" do.
posted by dersins at 1:41 PM on October 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


I'll have you all know that I am currently in the market for a new summer house priced somewhere in the $7 - $75 million range. Anyone know where I can find such a listing?
posted by item at 1:45 PM on October 2, 2006


The jerks who are gaming MeFi are of two types:

1. Those who fail.
2. Those who succeed.

Those who fail get banhammered and thoroughly ridiculed in MeTa, potentially causing a googlebombing linking their name with excreta.

Those who succeed were of benefit to the community, because they were truly interesting and were well-received by a scathingly skeptical crew. Those who succeed may have been paid for it; but so long as we all enjoyed it, what skin is it off our asses?

I do have to admit we should be able to punish the failures more harshly. Winning eyeballs at MeFi should be a bloodsport. Matt should be able to sell videos showing him kicking them in the balls.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:45 PM on October 2, 2006 [3 favorites]


...and that's seven dollars on the low end, not seven million. FYI.
posted by item at 1:46 PM on October 2, 2006


Do you really think a reader of mefi has $7 million and $70 million to spend on a new house?

Damn! I just spent my last $70 million buying lottery tickets.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 1:48 PM on October 2, 2006


dersins-I confess I don't.
posted by evariste at 1:58 PM on October 2, 2006


All right, maybe it's not a bad omen. I'll shaddup now.
posted by evariste at 1:59 PM on October 2, 2006


cortex, it could buy a lot of things.

Let me restate my question: How much, in practical terms, would it buy? What's the cost/benefit for paying $1000 for a 1000-digg link? I'm not being dismissive, I'm looking for a tasty napkin analysis. Compare with $1000 spent on other advertising schemes, neh?

You should write jingles promoting products and post them to mefi music.

I'm trying to sell out, but nobody is buying.
posted by cortex at 2:02 PM on October 2, 2006


I feel you, dog. The hardest part about being a whore is finding the johns.
posted by dios at 2:03 PM on October 2, 2006


"Are you listening to yourself speak? Do you really think a reader of mefi has $7 million and $70 million to spend on a new house?"

Just takes one, chief.
posted by klangklangston at 2:07 PM on October 2, 2006


Just takes one, chief

Or their friend to whom they email it or someone who overhears mention on a bus...just another avenue for circulating the idea. Advertising brainworms.
posted by peacay at 2:16 PM on October 2, 2006


I'm a little torn on this.

One one hand, I think it's scummy. No doubt there. It takes what's supposed to detect the real popularity of things and cheapens it to the equivalent of a pastel-coloured tampon commercial. (you might not know what I mean....it makes sense in my head, but it's hard to explain).

On the other hand, I've been freaking dying here trying to promote a website without being a scumbag and am pretty much stopped at every turn because the choices are: be scummy, pay lots of money, or get extremely lucky. And trust me, it's more about luck than the other two.

We've just spent (literally) thousands on an effort to get our name in the media by hiring a PR firm to hire a survey firm and when push an article on that survery to the media. No idea how well it will work. In the meantime, I know that if it doesn't (and I have little faith that it will) my last day of paid employment is Dec. 15th.

If I was scummy and used a service like the one this thread is about, I could have reached many more people than I have. But I'm not and my site is not about something glamourous or sexy, so I'm stuck with efforts that have a lesser chance of success.

Forgive me for being a little distressed in this post. I'm concerned about my (and my wife's, and my 4 month old daughter's) future. If I was scum, I might be a successful provider, but I'd be a lousy parent/husband.
posted by Kickstart70 at 2:24 PM on October 2, 2006


overhears mention on a bus.

This is a joke, right? You don't actually think that people who buy $70+ million-dollar penthouses and / or private islands actually ride the bus, do you?

These are among the most expensive private properties EVER offered for sale.

Please understand that when you're talking about property with that kind of initial price, and the carrying costs associated with it (literally millions of dollars a year, at minimum), you're pretty much only talking about these people.

Those people don't read metafilter, their friends and family don't read metafilter, and they certainly don't base their decisions on something they overheard on the fucking bus.
posted by dersins at 2:31 PM on October 2, 2006


mathowie writes "Are you listening to yourself speak? Do you really think a reader of mefi has $7 million and $70 million to spend on a new house?"

How would we know? For all we know orthogonality is Paul Allen.

In this specific case it seems like $5 wasted if those posts were spam. Nobody buying million dollar property buys it that way. However for more pedestrian items, say that Discworld cake or the A-Bike $5 is a better gamble. And remember a disiplined spammer could get several FPPs posted before they are found out. Most of the guys we've caught have been really clumbsy or are not even trying to slide their post past us.

Having said that I can't see a good solution that would thwart a determined spam recruiter.
posted by Mitheral at 2:35 PM on October 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


They have fucking buses now? This may totally change my opinion of mass transit.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:36 PM on October 2, 2006 [3 favorites]


Do you really think a reader of mefi has $7 million and $70 million to spend on a new house?

My wife doesn't think that I make enough money: fine. My mother-in-law implies the same thing: pisses me off a little, but okay. Now mathowie is busting my balls over the size of my paycheck? I AM DOING THE BEST I CAN PEOPLE! Jesus. Cut me some goddam slack.
posted by ND¢ at 2:36 PM on October 2, 2006 [2 favorites]


dersins, it's the circulation. Say if the person on the bus was the daughter of the PA at the firm that does promotion work for said rich bastard.....don't you see the circulation possiblities? And I don't really think that these real estate sites were posted here for this reason, but I don't totally reject the notion. I'm just talking about the motivation for why anyone would want eyes seeing anything. This place is just a tool in a process from the point of view of circulating whatever it is you want people to notice/talk about/buy etc. But I'm outta here...luxury cruiser, bolly and supermodels await.
posted by peacay at 2:42 PM on October 2, 2006


Spam doesn't last very long here. Some joker signs up, makes the requisite five lame comments in other threads, then makes a spammy FPP that stays up for maybe an hour before the MeFi Detective Brigade has outed him. How many people even see, let alone click through, a link that it is up for an hour? And what would someone pay for that very limited exposure?

I don't see any great threat.
posted by LarryC at 3:01 PM on October 2, 2006


They have fucking buses now?

Not in Utah. Sorry, crash.
posted by dersins at 3:02 PM on October 2, 2006


Digg is becoming wonderfully awful. Not because it's full of teenagers, but because it's full of teenage editors. Yes, it's fun red-thumbing a stupid comment, but then you open up some of the other ones that have been pushed out of sight and you see the chumpery at work.
posted by bonaldi at 3:28 PM on October 2, 2006


Kickstart70, unsure of the ethical implications, but could you not put the website you are talking of in your profile page to garner, maybe only a tiny bat what the hey, click through? Or is that also against the ethics here?
posted by Gratishades at 3:35 PM on October 2, 2006


Digg has turned into the web site version of Ruby on Rails... it has a rabid fan-base that depicts it as nothing less than the end of everything that happened before itself, and is so bullish on product promotion that the actual product can't possibly live up to the hype that surrounds it.
posted by clevershark at 3:37 PM on October 2, 2006


All of my posts have been spam for a product so viral, cryptographers are still attempting to unravel their layers.
So far, no one has caught me.
posted by klangklangston at 3:38 PM on October 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


Gratishades: It is, just above the nickname description. It's also been on Projects twice, which didn't seem to help traffic much.

Really, I think the problem is a lack of glamour or usefulness on a constant basis, meaning that since it's only really helpful for people who are in the midst of a job search, people just don't care unless they are. To me, that's a sign of a failed concept (not mine, but I've worked like crazy to get this off the ground anyway).

So I'm going to end my employment here in December and then, if all goes to plan, move to a rural area and start a business where my savings will last longer and we want to raise our kid anyway. The site will stay up, but I expect that I'll soon end up not caring much about how well it does.
posted by Kickstart70 at 3:44 PM on October 2, 2006


You're a web-savvy real estate agent in a sharply slowing market, and you have some listings that have been sitting unsold for months. Don't you go after every edge you can get? What's $5 compared to the commission on a $7 million house?

Yeah, you keep making was is essentially an accusation of self-linking, clearly the mods have heard you, and they disagree. Therefore, quit slandering that user. That is, shut the fuck up.
posted by solid-one-love at 3:45 PM on October 2, 2006


I will pay everyone who marks this comment as a favourite $100.*

Note: I will note actually pay everyone who marks this comment as a favourite $100. Indeed, I will pay you nothing. But favourite this comment anyway. C'mon, you know you wanna.
posted by Effigy2000 at 3:48 PM on October 2, 2006 [7 favorites]


Please do not favorite this comment.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:54 PM on October 2, 2006 [14 favorites]


I'm entirely disinterested in whether or not this comment is favorited.
posted by cortex at 3:57 PM on October 2, 2006 [6 favorites]


Mom always liked you best.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:59 PM on October 2, 2006 [5 favorites]


They have fucking buses now?
If you can afford to buy a $70m house, you can have all the fucking buses you want.
posted by dg at 4:05 PM on October 2, 2006


Can somebody loan me $6,994,203.54 (US)? I'm trying to buy a house and I'm a little short.
posted by Roger Dodger at 4:09 PM on October 2, 2006


you guys took all my options ... now i'll NEVER get this comment favorited
posted by pyramid termite at 4:10 PM on October 2, 2006 [2 favorites]


The real estate listing was unusual because it was broken in two pieces. But that's all it was, unusual. Who cares?

I always thought the idea that $5 would keep people from spamming metafilter was very naive

Also, keep in mind that metafilter has a much lower alexa reach then digg.
posted by delmoi at 4:11 PM on October 2, 2006


Your height should have nothing to do with it, Roger. If it does, that's discrimination!
posted by crunchland at 4:25 PM on October 2, 2006


Also, keep in mind that metafilter has a much lower alexa reach then digg.

Isn't that just because digg users are stupid enough to install that crappy toolbar in their browsers and MeFi users are not?
posted by sveskemus at 4:33 PM on October 2, 2006


orthogonality is Paul Allen

crunchland, are you taking notes?
posted by sveskemus at 4:34 PM on October 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


I just bought the Kremlin
posted by matteo at 4:53 PM on October 2, 2006


Digg == MySpace == etc. Webfads.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:55 PM on October 2, 2006


Purposefully created webfads, I might add. They're like grow-ops on the web: planted, fertilized, sold to highest bidder, and harvested. Get rich quick schemes.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:57 PM on October 2, 2006


Can somebody loan me $6,994,203.54 (US)?

i'll send it to you as soon as i count up the pennies
posted by pyramid termite at 6:13 PM on October 2, 2006


ps ... 2043 isn't going to be too late, is it?
posted by pyramid termite at 6:14 PM on October 2, 2006


i'll send it to you as soon as i count up the pennies

Damn, 2043? Are you planning on making sure that all 699 million, 420 thousand, 540 of them are ass pennies?
posted by evariste at 6:39 PM on October 2, 2006


i have pedro the donkey to help me with that (text, nsfw)
posted by pyramid termite at 7:09 PM on October 2, 2006


That was hilarious! (And pretty gross.)
posted by evariste at 7:29 PM on October 2, 2006


Isn't that just because digg users are stupid enough to install that crappy toolbar in their browsers and MeFi users are not?

There is actually a third-party firefox plug in you can get that's pretty unobtrusive, just shows the rank in the corner. It's not compatible with firefox 2.0 yet, though.

And anyway, I doubt that the answer to your question is 'yes'.
posted by delmoi at 7:56 PM on October 2, 2006


Where is that Ass Pennies skit from? That was hilarious!
posted by maryh at 8:11 PM on October 2, 2006


maryh-a sketch comedy show called Upright Citizens Brigade.
posted by evariste at 8:13 PM on October 2, 2006


I'll have you all know that I am currently in the market for a new summer house priced somewhere in the $7 - $75 million range. Anyone know where I can find such a listing?

Try AskMe. Somebody there might be able to point you in the right direction.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:52 PM on October 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


For all we know orthogonality is Paul Allen.

That would not surprise me.
posted by caddis at 8:58 PM on October 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


Thanks evariste. Looks like I'm going to be glued to the YouTube tonite.
posted by maryh at 9:36 PM on October 2, 2006


I favorited this comment without a trace of irony.
posted by owhydididoit at 9:49 PM on October 2, 2006


I assume that was because you were paid.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:25 PM on October 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


I doubt that the answer to your question is 'yes'.

I dunno, it's been mentioned here before that digg users seem to be obsessed with digg's Alexa ranking. And I think I remember that digg got a noticeably bigger boost than other sites during that famous spike earlier this year. What's your favorite explanation for that spike, delmoi?
posted by mediareport at 11:34 PM on October 2, 2006


And I think I remember that digg got a noticeably bigger boost than other sites during that famous spike earlier this year. What's your favorite explanation for that spike, delmoi?

Erm, I think it's widely known that digg caused the spike, by noting that their rating surpassed slashdots, at which point a bunch of diggers (or whatever) downloaded the toolbar and/or the firefox plugin.
posted by delmoi at 1:48 AM on October 3, 2006


I went to the site and signed up with a throwaway address. There's a whopping 5 stories that you can get paid to digg right now. Woohoo! 50 cent in my pocket!
posted by antifuse at 2:39 AM on October 3, 2006


Also, they note that they are also randomly selecting stories from Digg to pay people to digg. Some sets are entirely filled with random stories. So there really isn't any way for Digg to kill all the stories that have been paid for.
posted by antifuse at 2:40 AM on October 3, 2006


Erm, I think it's widely known that digg caused the spike, by noting that their rating surpassed slashdots, at which point a bunch of diggers (or whatever) downloaded the toolbar and/or the firefox plugin.

Erm, except that the article about overtaking Slashdot was posted at digg on March 19, and the sudden spike happened on April 19. As far as I can tell, that remains a big problem for that theory (see the comments here and here).

Anyway, if you still think that theory is a good one, then why do you think it's not the case that digg users downloading the Alexa toolbar at a higher rate is a main reason for digg's high Alexa ranking? Alexa has seemed fishy to me for a while now, so I'm just curious what exactly it is you're objecting to in sveskemus' comment.
posted by mediareport at 7:54 AM on October 3, 2006


I also gave it a try with a disposable account, and it gave me an error message when I told it that I had dugg the five articles it assigned me to. So I checked in later; I still wasn't credited. Tried the next five. Same problem. Checked this morning, still not credited for either batch.

So it smells like a scam to me.
posted by solid-one-love at 8:47 AM on October 3, 2006


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