ARCHIVE: September, 2006

Democradig is Digg without Gaming

One of the big questions looming around the recent Digg design controversy is how can Digg be designed to be less of a haven for gaming? Well, the comments both on Bokardo and Digg were insightful, providing a huge number of thoughtful ideas. But faithful reader murtlest pointed to someone who has taken the issue a step further, actually building a site without ranking, without seeing who dugg what, and without showing the number of diggs.

It’s called Democradig.

Continue Reading: Democradig is Digg without Gaming

Digg’s Design Dilemma

This past week’s Digg controversy is one in a growing number of incidents that suggest that a small group of users are having an undue influence on the promotion of stories. In response, Digg is changing the way that it handles votes by adding complexity to its ranking algorithm. I think that’s the wrong approach, so here’s another idea: change the actual design of the site…that’s the real problem.

The most recent controversy happened on September 5th, when someone named jesusphreak posted Digg the Rigged?, an in-depth article exposing some of the curious details of recently-popular stories on digg. Many of the stories, jp pointed out, were dugg by members of the Digg Top 30, or the 30 most popular digg members (popular being measured by number of stories submitted that were promoted to the frontpage). The Top 30 includes Digg founder Kevin Rose.

This was not the first time that someone has pointed out this phenomenon. On April 18 of this year Macgyver at ForeverGeek posted Digg Army, which included screenshots of who dugg two recent articles on the site. Each article had the exact same 16 people digging it in the exact same order. Of the first 19, 18 were the same. Included in that list of people was, again, Kevin Rose. ( for an in-depth history see Tony Hung’s excellent: A Brief History of the Digg Controversy)

These incidents, taken together, are more than coincidence…

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The 5 W’s of Social Software

Social software has been around for a long time. Email, after all, is the canonical example. But it’s been only recently that web designers as a whole have embraced it and really started innovating. We’ve got social news aggregators, social encyclopedias, social bookmarking, social networking, recommendation systems, social tagging…all of these things add up to huge changes in the way we use the Web. Though some folks see it as nothing more than social networking, there are elements of social software being built into most software today.

Who: Social software helps people by modeling their social lives online.

What: Social software is software that supports social activities.

Where: Social software is nearly everywhere.

When: Now.

Why: Social software is important because that’s the way that software is trending.

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99% of Web Design Books are Not

Most books that claim to be about web design aren’t about web design at all. They’re about publishing in HTML and CSS, which by and large has little to do with the problems of the users we’re supposed to be designing for.

I was in a Barnes and Noble this weekend looking at web design books. There were lots of them! I saw old favorites like Eric Meyer’s O’Reilly books and new favorites like Dan Cederholm’s Bulletproof Web Design. I have a collection of these books, and my life has been made easier by them. I’m grateful for that.

But these aren’t really design books, per se. They’re more like books about web development, a similar and related field but not quite the same. They’re books about how to publish web sites in HTML and CSS. That’s publishing, not design…

Continue Reading: 99% of Web Design Books are Not

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