Digg today launched a bot for Facebook Messenger. The bot, which you can access directly here, is able to suggest interesting articles and videos for you, but you can also use it to find content yourself.

The reasoning behind the bot is simple: “We aim to provide world-­class content discovery, wherever our users are, and increasingly, you are sharing and discussing the best of the internet in messaging apps.” In short, Digg doesn’t want to put you through the horrible hassle of having to “switch between multiple apps to find and share content.” It wants to bring the content directly to where you’re already spending a lot of time: Facebook Messenger.

digg_edition

Digg today also launched Digg Editions, which are basically an expansion of the Daily Digg email that goes out each weekday. Digg Editions are published twice every weekday and once on the weekend. Each edition is a collection of articles and videos, including top news and additional content categories. Articles are clustered based on trending topics, and content is selected based on reading patterns for different times and days of the week. Although Digg Editions will be the same for everyone at launch, they will become personalized and customizable based on your interests, networks, and behavior.

While the concept sounds intriguing, Digg Editions will unfortunately be your first experience with the Digg bot. Instead of letting you figure out what content you want to check out, the first thing you’re asked to do is this:

digg_bot_editions

In fact, even though I chose “No, thanks,” when prompted, the next day I got an alert for another edition. It’s a great way to annoy the user right from the start.

In addition, the Digg bot can also randomly send you trending articles and videos “that we think you’d like to see.” If that sounds frustrating, the company promises that it will be “not too often, because that would be annoying.”

That’s all the automatic stuff. The other way that the Digg bot works is via search:

  • Category: Find stories based on verticals by searching for tags like news, sports, and technology
  • Keyword: Use simple keywords to search for anything that the internet is talking about
  • Domain: Find the top articles from many of the internet’s best publishers by searching for URLs
  • Trending: Just type “trending” to see what articles and videos are on the rise across the Digg network
  • Digg: Read the front page right in Facebook Messenger by typing in “digg”

These are all decent options, albeit not particularly sophisticated. A simple Google query handles this content just the same.

digg_bot

So that’s the Digg bot for Facebook Messenger in a nutshell. Except that if you ask Digg, it’s not a bot:

As more and more chatbots are launched, there’s been a deluge of opinion about this new shift in platforms. We can generally categorize these opinions into 3 buckets:

  1. Love them bots! Artificial Intelligence is the future of computing, and the emergence of a new runtime means that chatbots will define the next 10 years of online interactions. Oh and publishers should definitely get on this train.
  2. Hate them bots! Artificial Intelligence really isn’t far enough along to be helpful yet, and bots are making things more difficult than they need to be. And most of the chatbots being launched right now are just a big pile of disappointment.
  3. Lots of potential, but lots of progress needed! There really is immense potential in chat apps as the new browser, but there’s still a lot of work to be done, especially in conversational intelligence. So for now, solve for a specific use case and don’t try to do too much.

Here at Digg, we agree with opinion #3.

But no matter what the company says, it’s still a chatbot. And, like all the other attempts we’ve seen so far, it requires more effort on your part than simply browsing on digg.com.

Digg’s main argument is that “the need we’re filling should not require artificially intelligent conversation” because “discovering great articles and videos doesn’t have to involve full dialogue with a machine.” That may be, but then you might as well just make a basic app. Or better yet, just build a more robust website.

The only thing that I really wanted the Digg bot to do was to properly filter articles and videos by length. What if I only have X minutes to watch a video or only want to read something short? Nada:

digg_bot_top_stories

Again, if the Digg bot’s only purpose is to notify me about editions, nag me with trending articles, and let me search just like I already can with Google, then I’m not interested. But this is version 1.0, and I’m hopeful Digg will realize that there’s a lot of potential here for making something significantly more useful.