Why is non-CEO Kevin Rose messing around with Digg?

Social news aggregator Digg hired former Amazon executive Matt Williams to be CEO a little over a month ago, but ex-CEO and co-founder Kevin Rose is still fiddling around with the site it seems.

In a move that might have some people questioning whether it’s his place to be doing such things anymore, Rose turned to his Twitter following for advice on a Digg feature: He tweeted a link to a ‘Twtpoll’ asking whether “we should bring the ‘bury’ feature back on Digg.” Out of a total 999 votes, close to 700 voted yes on the poll. 99 voted ‘No.’ 215 voted for the joke option, ‘Cats.’

Digg communications director Michele Husak said the poll brought in valuable information. “We always listen to feedback and take it all into consideration for product iterations,” she said. “In the past, we’ve done official surveys on the site, asked questions via Twitter and Facebook and email, etc. So I would say that this poll from Kevin should be viewed in a similar vein. I can’t say for sure that (the bury feature) is something that will be brought back or not, but we’re combing through all of the feedback and data at the moment.”

This impromptu bit of social engagement does, however, constitute a change in Rose’s recent interaction with the Digg community about site adjustments. Rose has said that he released Version 4 of the site, which eliminated features that core users enjoyed, because he felt new features would improve site traffic. Rose has since said that he wishes he had laid out the new features more slowly. Unlike the old version, Digg V4 prevents users form easily seeing on a single page what all their friends have recently submitted. Users have complained that the new arrangement is disorienting. Before making that change, Rose never made such a personal, open request for advice like he did today.

Digg’s bury feature represents a bit of interactivity lost when the site switched over to its fourth design in late August. Perhaps Rose is thinking that the return of older, more interactive features may increase traffic and user interest. Burying was removed when version 4 first started because of concern about large groups of people joining forces and forming “bury brigades” to prevent specific content from reaching the front page of the site. In recent weeks, however, content of a more “spammy” nature has begun to reach the front page of Digg. During one such “spam attack,” material from “travel-online-free.blogspot.com” as well as “herbalremedies-free.blogspot.com” reached the front page partly because whoever ran the sites corralled enough votes without moderators noticing. The submissions were eventually removed from the site. It is theorized that if the “bury” button were put back in place, such attacks could not occur.

Rose has recently stated that he is also planning on other site changes for the coming weeks and months. One of those possibilities is an “interests” page for each user. Rose has also mentioned the return of user “leader-boards,” which had been popular in the past on the site years ago.

It is hoped the coming changes may boost sagging traffic at the site in the last six weeks. The return of pagination as a way to move among the sites pages may bring more page views. Pagination had been removed in favor of a feature similar to one on Twitter that allows users to expand the number of items on one page instead of clicking to another page. Also, the return of a fully-functional Application Programing Interface (API) could mean that developers may create web experiences around Digg data, which could bring back some of the people who recently left the site.


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