That's a common question on the social bookmarking/news voting websites Digg and Netscape. It's also a very interesting question as these site specifically used the term "social bookmarking" in their early press releases.
In defense of both of those sites, neither one still uses the term "social bookmarking" on their sites now. Both are trying to move from being mere bookmarking sites and instead are aiming to be "user driven social content" or "social news portal" websites. This is a big change from being a site designed to "bookmark" links.
Digg has been around for several years now and is clearly the big dog in terms of "user driven social content." Netscape is the new kid on the block but, in emulating Digg, they have gained some of Digg's problems.
One of those problems is that of "gaming" the system. This is what happens when a group of users specifically creates bogus accounts that are used to amplify the importance of postings made by other members of that group. This problem was further confused, in the eyes of the membership, when the Digg "friends" feature was added. This became a problem because shortly after it was introduced we began to hear Kevin Rose grumble about groups of users who were always Digg each other's posts!
Some people dropped out of the friend system feeling that it was being used by Digg to punish members for using it! Kevin has since denied this...
Netscape also has a friends feature that can be gamed in the same manner.
One thing that Netscape has that Digg does not have is a dedicated group of moderators, or "Navigators" as they prefer to call them, that keep an eye on the stories posted to the site. Digg prefers to use the "Wisdom of Crowds" to moderate it's content and that does seem to work in regards to burying stories though it clearly breaks down when promoting stories as the "Wisdom of Crowds" relies on the members of the crowd being clueless as to what other members in the crowd are doing. Instead, Digg ends up with a "follow the leader" mentality when it comes to promoting stories as once something hits the front page it just gets lots more Diggs as more people see it!
There are "rumors" of a super secret group of moderators on Digg but they are just that, rumors.
I'm not entirely sure which system is better in regards to moderating stories. There were many problems when Digg first introduced it's politics section. both sides of the political spectrum were accusing the other side of constantly burying every story that made their people look bad. Some of this mentality may have crossed over into the tech sections, or it may have always been there.
Cries of, "negative Linux stories get buried while negative Microsoft ones always hit the front page," may have some merit, after all, Digg users tend to be techies who use Linux rather than Windows. As I recently read in the comments of a post that was negative towards Digg, many Diggers simply do not want to read anything negative about Digg or Kevin Rose, thus those stories are quickly buried.
At the same time, if you post a negative story about Digg on Netscape (and vice versa) it is likely to be promoted!
Now that I've gone over the basic s of these two sites I'll get to the main topic of this post.
How do you use these sites? Do you see a catchy headline and Digg/vote the story for later reading or do you take the time to read the article and then Digg/vote or even bury it based on it's content?
I have to admit that I tend to fall into the "bookmarking" camp on these sites. The simple fact is that I check them every few hours, bookmark interesting stories, and then go back later to read them.
Part of this is because many stories, upon gaining some popularity, suffer from the "Digg Effect." This is what happens when someone on a shared server has their article linked to from Digg and their server locks them out because of the spike in traffic.
Digg does have duggmirror, which helps out, but sometimes duggmirror does not work right and you still can't read the story.
Though I often will Digg a story going only by it's headline, URL and overview I also will bury stories based on those same three things without reading the story.
"What! how dare you," you scream! It's true and I'm sure many people do just as I do.
Face it, if you see a story that looks like spam, it probably is.
I also often go the extra step of looking at the users profile who submitted the story. It's one thing to submit your own blog entries to Digg, but it's something else if all you ever submit are your own blog entries!
If I find someone who ONLY submits their own blog and does not take an active part in the Digg community I WILL mark all of their entries as spam.
Now, I know some people get real mad when they read about other Digg members "blindly" Digging stories without first reading them. All I can say is, "when I joined Digg, it was still a social bookmarking site... old habits die hard!"
I'm working on joining the "read first" crowd but it takes time. Time I do not always have!
One thing I will say in my defense is that I do base a Digg (on an unread story) in part on the content of the comments on Digg. I do take the time to at least read the first few sets of comments before Digging a story for later reading.
Netscape appears to not suffer with as many people who have my view of "bookmarking for later reading" or they just don't have any readers!
It's strange to see an item on Netscape's home page with less than 20 votes. 20 Diggs will not even get you out of the upcoming que on Digg!
It's also interesting to see the same story posted on both sites and see the large difference in Diggs/votes against the story! I've seen stories get 2,000 Diggs while the same story on Netscape only has 12 votes!
Is there a solution? Yes, but you might not like it.
One solution would be to not allow someone to Digg/vote a story until they have read it (or at least opened it in a new browser window.) This would ensure people are Digging/voting on the content of the article rather then the catchy title or comments. Of course this would fall apart as a story gets a few Diggs and then the server crashes from the Digg Effect!
One other solution, which may not be feasible, would be to allow someone to Digg/vote a story but not have it added to the story's public count until that member has actually clicked on the story's link.
Or you could also leave the story's Digg/vote count secret to see if the "Wisdom of Crowds" really works or not.
What do I know, I'm just a guy with a blog...