"Which leads me to a disappointing trend that we've noticed over the past several months. Some of our top users - the people that have spent hundreds if not thousands of hours finding and digging the best stuff - are being blamed by some outlets as leading efforts to manipulate Digg."
So, with one mighty sweep of his hand Kevin Rose is doing away with the one reward system that Digg has in place to reward the top Digg users. Hmmm... I wonder how this will all turn out?
Kevin Rose goes on to explain what will replace the current reward system:
"So what does this all mean? After considerable internal debate and discussion with many of those who make up the Top Digger list, we've decided to remove the list beginning tomorrow. As for what's next, we're currently working on designing and refining the technologies required that will help enable our nearly 900,000 registered users to make real connections that we believe will greatly enhance the Digg experience - whether you're brand new to the site or have been on Digg since the beginning. We plan on rolling this out in the coming months along with features and programs that do a better job of rewarding positive contributions to the Digg community."
If you read the entirety of Kevin Rose's blog post you will see that this is being done to prevent the gaming of Digg. Not too long ago Digg made some changes to their promotion algorithm that sent the top diggers into a tizzy! They quickly readjusted and things settled back down again.
What Kevin Rose may not understand about Digg is that, for many of the users, Digg is a game. It may not have the snazzy elements of World of Warcraft or other on-line games but it is a game. Why do I say this, let me list what makes Digg a game.
1) You have a character - When you create your Digg persona you are establishing your character in the game of Digg.
2) You gain experience points - Everytime one of your submitted stories makes it to the home page you get a point. Once you gain enough points you move up in the rankings and may eventualy become a top digger. I made it as high as the top 200.
3) You gain levels - The top digger list is a level based system where the lower your level the higher up you are. Gain enough experience points and you can work you way into the top 30 of top diggers.
4) You gain followers - Ahh, Digg friends! As you become more popular and gain more levels people will decide to become your friend. Once they become your friend they are able to follow a special group of "what are my friends doing on Digg" links that will further help your submissions reach the home page. Who wants to sort through all of the upcomming stories when they need only rifle through what their friends are digging?
5) You get no monetary reward - Like the vast majority of on-line games, you get no money from Digg. All that hard work you put into getting good content onto Digg is never rewarded with cash. Unlike many other on-line games, Digg does not cost you money to play, it only costs time.
With these new changes in mind will Digg still be a game? Until Kevin Rose comes out and tells us what the new reward system will be, no. By removing two and three (and changing four) Digg will become less of a game and more of a... well... it will become something else.
I don't know about the other diggers out there but I enjoy the top diggers system. It is that system that drives me to find better content to submit in the hopes that I can become a top digger. By removing the reward system I am no longer inclined to look hard for news items to submit to Digg. In fact, my days of submitting to Digg may just be over.
I look forward to seeing what the new Digg reward system will be. I will not be holding my breath over any possible "profit sharing" system or anything else that pays people to Digg. I do have to wonder what will happen to the Digg community after this change takes effect. What will drive users to Digg now that the reward system is gone?
The top diggers link is now being redirected to Kevin Rose's blog post. The link in a member's profile page that lists their overall ranking is also being rerouted to Kevin Rose's blog post.
A blogger has decided to host the top 100 diggers list on his web site. We will see how long this "publicly" available information stays that way.