Transcript of "01 interview with zaibatsu (reg saddler) on digg's redesign, user revolt and the future of social media"
DigitalEYE Interviews Zaibatsu (Reg Saddler) on Digg’s
Redesign, User Revolt and The Future of Social Media
Posted by Tanner on Sep 2, 2010 in New Technology, SEO, Twitter, social media | 0
DigitalEYE had a chance to interview Zaibastu (Reg Saddler),
a heavily influential social media expert who has over 100,000
followers on Twitter and has made a huge impact user news
submitted sites such as Digg. We discussed the new Digg
redesign, user revolts and the future of Social Media
concerning Digg and Twitter.
This is the transcript from an audio interview that took place
August 31, 2010.
What is Digg to you?
Digg is always in my eyes. I’ve always enjoyed Digg as a news aggregator. At first that
was my appeal. I came to it as a website where I could see content and breaking news
stories; it was a little daily newspaper for me. The whole thing, after I got banned and
even more changes, I didn’t want to contribute to the site and I was moving around
millions of pages views per month. I thought “Why try to get back on and give them
the good press?”Maybe it’s a little arrogant, but I really did feel that I was giving them
some free love and so why try to get my account back on? I didn’t have the same kind
of passion as before. That’s why I moved to Mixx and ultimately Twitter looking for a
site—not only for great news but somewhere that’s fun and has a different dynamic
and different social media feel. Because social media is fun for me.
How do you view Twitter in regards to Digg?
The news breaks faster on Twitter than anywhere else on the
planet. You’ll see correspondents from CNN to any Blogger
for any company out there looking toward Twitter to find
out what’s happening in the world. You’ll have someone
posting a car bombing that recently happened and you’ll see
it instantly on Twitter and it’s picked up instantly, it’s
broadcasted and amplified and then the big media sources
are right on it and they grab it and say “breaking from
Twitter” that’s why I say Twitter is actually breaking news
Do you think Twitter could overtake Digg or coexist?
Well they’re two different animals, Digg is your daily newspaper and their goal is to
pick the best stories. You know breaking news that is 3-4 hours old isn’t considered
breaking anymore on Digg. Sites like Facebook and Twitter try to incorporate a lot of
real time feedback that has been going on for a while now. They’re two different
animals and Digg is trying to incorporate the best features just like Facebook is from
What do you think of the new Digg redesign and the user revolt? We’ve seen it
happen with every major revision of the site but what makes it different than
previous Digg redesigns and previous user revolts?
I haven’t been on Digg, it’s not like I was visiting there everyday and looking for top
news stories or even looking for a feel of the front page. What I would go there for is
the upcoming stories and the majority of that was coming up from friends so that was
really enjoyable because I would see Andy Sorcini (MrBabyMan) Muhammad Saleem
and a whole bunch of other people and I knew it’s in upcoming and it’s only been
popular for 8 or 9 hours it’s still breaking news and that’s where I find a lot of the
Digg breaking news. Even if those stories don’t make it to the front page, I know they
picked some good content, I know what’s out there. What happened with the new
Digg redesign is they let in the big fire hose like CNN and Mashable specifically. I love
Mashable and I love their content but they were able to basically push and have Digg
pull in every single story that their throwing out there. So It’s like a zillion followers
here and a zillion followers there, they’re pulling that content in and people are voting
that up rather than going to Andy with his 20,000 followers because Mashable is a big
brand name and they’re being pushed on to the front page. I think that was the
complaint a lot of old time and new users like top Diggers and non top Diggers had.
Now all these big guys are able to force feed and push their content to the front page
of Digg. At least before it was fair up to a point with the Digg algorithm picking and
choosing the content that is coming from not only top submitters but then lowly,
(Mashable, CNN) overtaking Digg, do you think it makes it redundant to see a story
from Mashable and then go to their website?
It doesn’t really make it redundant, but here is where the problem lies and I think I
have a better handle on it. If you talk to Muhammad Saleem and J.D. Rucker they
might have a better feel and better answer but what happened with all of these larger
sites pushing out their content in volumes and you’re a normal user on Digg and you
see Apple’s having a special event September 1st, you’re more apt to click that than
little Johnie who submitted the story that came out an hour or even a day earlier. To
address your question, again will it just make Digg a placeholder for these larger
firms? In fact, that was the problem. Mashable got on the front page, 4 or 5 were
Mashable stories just a few days early on in the redesign and then just recently I think
it was yesterday, Digg users revolted and so they hopped on board Reddit’s news feed
and started promoting Reddit’s stories so every single top Reddit story was now on
the front page of Digg and I guess users were trying to show Digg and the populace of
users out there just how silly the redesign is, where you can actually force content
from a competitor on to the front page because of the way they’re aggregating news.
Since users are revolting and like you said, promoting top Reddit stories on to the
Reddit front page, do you think Digg is going to notice this and make changes?
Yea, Kevin, believe it or not is on top of it. I’ll tell
you why, he doesn’t know I’m not a regular on
my old show called “The Drill Down” where we
could talk about Digg specifically and talk about
Social Media in general. So when I told Kevin and
other people “Hey I’m back on Digg” but I have a
little fake account with my name, Kevin Rose
welcomed me back and he also talked to J.D.
Rucker and a few other people who mentioned
him specifically about the new Digg redesign so
he knows we’re influences in Social Media and I
think he was trying to nip some of the bad press.
He’s being proactive, I don’t think he knows where all the fires are at right now, I
don’t know if he’s not getting good feedback from his users or he’s not listening to the
end users. I think he is now, initially he wasn’t. So yea I think they’re going to bring
back a lot of the popular features that Digg had tossed out in the redesign, I just don’t
know if they know how to properly address the problems that have arisen and have
forced them down Alexa wise by a third when it comes to traffic volume.
Where do you see Digg going in the future whether it’s a revamp of V4, a whole
new system for version 5, and in the next few years in terms of redesigns and
My comment to Kevin Rose “You want to listen to your popular users, the people that
make your site what it is.” I don’t care if you think a small percent of the top Digg
users control the front page, I specifically said this to Kevin “You don’t want to be a
Blockbuster you want to be a Netflix” that means listening to your people. With that
said, the only way I think Digg can stay relevant is to push in or embrace the people
they pushed out before. Top Diggers, these are people who are passionate about
content, they have a great feel for it. Just like Twitter isn’t kicking out Lady Gaga
because people like her, I really think Digg should do the same thing and give Andy
and some love and everyone else out there who have been passionate about their
content. Obviously the users have spoken and made him number one on Digg and
everyone that’s 2 all the way down to 2,000 should be getting some love because these
are unpaid content/social media experts trying to submit the best content that they
can find to Digg.com if it’s spammy, other users will call them out. If you work for
Time magazine, or you doing a social media promotion and say you’re a top Digger
promoting it, the users will call you out saying “Reg, I’ve seen 10th time article.” The
Digg community sort of forces you rise beyond mediocrity. But now with the revamp,
they came in and said hey “Mashable, Time, Newsweek, all you guys, we got some
good news; we’re going to get your content on the front page every day. We’re going
to make it front and center, we’re going use your influence.” They’re going to have to
go back to their old business model to get breaking news on to the front page. At best
they will have a 3-4 hour lag time. They have to move that up to 15 minutes to half an
hour, which they haven’t been able to do, they just don’t know how to do that. with
the new Digg and they haven’t been able to do so. So that’s the new Digg, all that
matters is timeliness you know, control people and timing. I mean news is dead, you
go to CNN.com and you heard about a story on Digg, people are going to stop going