J’accuse! Wired Attacked Over Digg Story

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Annalee Newitz engaged in a test of Digg’s ability to withstand a paid effort to boost a story to Digg’s front page, and has earned her some pointed barbs from the blogosphere.

The User/Submitter site promises it can bring plenty of Diggs to a story from its collection of Digg users. All one has to do is pay the fee, as we noted on SecurityProNews last September. Newitz took User/Submitter up on their offer. She paid them $450 to boost a submission about a bogus blog she created. Digg CEO Jay Adelson told her the experiment wouldn’t work:

If the corporate brass at Digg were right, this would be a complete waste of my money. CEO Jay Adelson told me before I conducted this experiment that all the groups trying to manipulate Digg "have failed," and that Digg "can tell when there are paid users." Adelson added, "When we identify a (Digg user) who is part of a scam, we don’t remove their account so they don’t realize they’ve been identified. Then we let them continue voting, but their votes may count a lot less. Then the scam doesn’t work."

The scam worked. Then the fallout began. Mike Arrington posted his opinion on TechCrunch that Digg should sue Wired over this experiment:

Wired is putting Digg in an impossible situation, and they should be called on it. Reporting news is one thing (although they should note the conflict of interest there as well), but actively creating negative news about a competitor and then using the massive reach of Wired to promote that “news” is way over the line.

Stan Schroeder blogged on Frantic Industries that Wired was being used by its publisher, Condé Nast, to attack a competitor of their social media site, Reddit:

Questions arise: why didn’t he she pay the same company to do the same with Reddit? Is it moral (I’ll give you the answer right away: hell no) to scheme against a company which is a competitor for one of your services and then use your news publication to smear their reputation with the data you gathered? …what troubles me most about this whole affair is the fact that Condé Nast is obviously prostituting a respectable publication which they own – Wired – to achieve their goals.

Newitz responded to these allegations on her Techsploitation blog:

So why did we target Digg and not Reddit in the Wired News piece? Again, the answer is simple. Digg is so big that an entire industry has sprung up around gaming it, and therefore I could hire a company that would pay people to digg my story. There is no such comparable industry or company that will game Reddit.

"The results of my experience also undermined Digg CEO Adelson’s claim that U/S didn’t work. Adelson could not be reached for comment after the experiment was complete," Newitz wrote in her Wired column. That seems to speak loudly about Digg’s anti-paid gaming effectiveness. —

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J’accuse! Wired Attacked Over Digg Story
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  • Luke


    Plenty of people seem to be using User/Submitter, and for the most part getting the result that they want.

    Of course it is an arms race.

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