Rethink Digg v1 Preview; New Design Looks Promising

Earlier this month, it was reported that the once-popular community powered news website Digg.com was acquired by Betaworks, the team behind the popular link shortening service bitly and News.me.

The small company with a highly innovative team took up a challenge to redesign Digg complete from scratch, with the announcement of “rethink Digg” program, and promised to release the first version, or (re)launch the service on August 1.

Rethink Digg brings the previous Digg team and the Betaworks team to work together and revamp the entire website, including the way it aggregates news. The mission is to save the once-popular service from being buried in a virtual bone yard.

Just two weeks after the acquisition, the team had asked users all over the Internet to provide feedback and advice by asking them to fill out a quick survey. Surprisingly, 92 percent of those who took the survey said that they would not recommended the current Digg to their friends.

Today, the team has published and shared the first mock-ups and screenshots of the new Digg v1, and has also provided a brief explanation on what the user experience on the site will look like:

Digg v1 Mock-up

The current Digg design is more text oriented, however, by looking at the above screenshot, the new Digg design is heavily focused on images. According to Betaworks, the new design will provide a “beautiful, image-friendly, and ad-free experience.” It is also said that the “Diggbar” will be removed from the new design.

It is interesting to see how the Digg score is being made use of, with the integration of Facebook and Twitter. Currently, the Digg count moves a story closer to the top depending on the number of votes it has generated. However, with the new design, Digg counts will not be taken into consideration, but the number of Facebook shares and Tweets will help identify what the Internet is talking about.

Digg v1 Mock-up - Facebook, Twitter Integration

The v1 will not include the commenting system, however, the team will be conducting a few experiments in commenting that will inform more permanent features, and will enable commenting in future.

Overall, the new Digg v1 preview, mock-ups and screenshots look promising, and honestly speaking, I really like it. I’m quite excited and eagerly waiting for the release of the new design. You can check all the released mock-up designs here.

Digg Has to Be Different; 92% Survey Respondents Won’t Recommend Digg

Two weeks back, Betaworks — the one that owns and operates link shortener Bit.ly — acquired the social news site Digg, and in an attempt to revive the site, News.me/Betaworks team has asserted stating that it would redesign the site from scratch in just under six weeks.

The team asked Digg users and users all over the Internet to provide feedback and advice by asking them to fill out a quick survey. The team today has announced the first round results of the Rethink Digg v1 survey; out of the total 3,754 people who took the survey, nearly 92 percent of them said that they would not recommended the current Digg to their friends.

“This level of dissatisfaction does not call for incremental improvement,” Levine said. “The problem we are trying to solve with v1 – how can we deliver the best of what the Internet is talking about right now? – calls for something else.”

Along with this, the v1 results also included some interesting stats on which social networking tool is popular among the all:

How users get their news - ReThink Digg Survey

Reddit and Hacker News topped the list, which is acceptable. However, the strange thing to notice here is that users rely on blogs and online newspaper sites for news, and not Twitter. Twitter falls fourth in the list after blogs and major online newspapers, which is a little surprising.

Another interesting stats the survey brought out is that many users use their phones to read news on the Internet.

Mobile Users - ReThink Digg

What Betaworks has to offer with Digg is unknown. The new Digg, as we know, will certainly not be an evolution of the current Digg, or a Reddit/Hacker News clone. The survey results calls for a different change, and Levine hasn’t revealed anything yet. However, from the facts that we know, what we understand is that the new Digg will revolve around news aggregation, and might also have a mobile version of it. Also, not to forget that Betaworks currently runs News.me, which could be a source of inspiration for the new Digg redesign.

We are not sure on how successful Betaworks is going to be on this. However, our take is that if the new Digg offers something more than what the current aggregators offer, it will sure take off and provide a tough competition. Well, as the saying goes, you will only know the outcome after time has passed. We hope to see great new changes come August 1.

“Rethink Digg” – a New Version of Digg, Launching August 1

The once popular social news website Digg was acquired by a New York-based start-up incubator Betaworks — the one that owns and operates link shortner Bit.ly — on July 12 for an under-priced amount of $500,000. Back in 2008, Digg was almost acquired by Google for a whopping $200 million, however, the deal was off when Google didn’t find the Digg team reliable enough, and weren’t up to the standards of the search engine giant.

However, that is past and things have changed now. Betaworks and Digg together have a plan to start all over again, and rebuild the social news website from scratch. In a blog post, the start-up briefed on its plans to rebuild the site, as well as some details on why Betaworks purchased Digg in the first place.

Rethink Digg v1

In a new blog called “Rethink Digg,” the team stated that it requires help from its readers. Here’s what they have to say:

As Betaworks and Digg both announced on their blogs, we are taking over Digg and turning it back into a startup. What they didn’t mention is that we’re rebuilding it from scratch. In six weeks.

On August 1, after an adrenaline and caffeine-fueled six weeks, we’re rolling out a new v1. With this launch, we’re taking the first step towards (re)making Digg the best place to find, read and share the most interesting and talked about stories on the Internet – and we want your help.

The most interesting thing to note here is that it plans to do first versions revamp in just six weeks with a team of 10 developers, designers, and editors. During the week, the first thing they ought to do is to move the site from its old and expensive infrastructure to a more efficient setup. The Betaworks-Digg team has also promised that the reincarnation of Digg will be modern, fast, shiny and new. Additionally, they also have plans to build a user experience that is native to each device.

Digg can still compete with Reddit, however, in order to do that the team has a lot of things to cover, and this isn’t an overnight process. It would take several months for the team to rebuild the site completely. However, on August 1, we will find out if the new revamped Digg is really worth checking out or not.

You can also fill out a short survey and help the team “Rethink Digg” in a more user-friendly manner.

Digg Continues It’s Downward Spiral: Fires 37% of Workforce, Faces Cheating Allegations

2010 is shaping up to be a terrible year for Digg, the once poster child of the Web 2.0 crowd. The much-delayed redesign (Digg v4) triggered a user revolt and drove away several dedicated users, key executives like Chas Edwards and Matt Williams are leaving the company, and now the site is facing allegations of gaming its own voting system to benefit its publishing partners.

Clever sleuthing by a Digg user has revealed the occurrence of large scale manipulation of Digg’s ranking system over the past couple of weeks. Immediately after Digg’s mystery tour of its algorithm, several users (159 of them, to be exact) signed up with usernames like a1, a3, a5, d1, d2, d3, dd1, dd2, dd3, diggerz10, diggerz11, diggerz12, s1, s2 and s4. All of these users then went on to digg upcoming stories in large numbers, more specifically, upcoming stories from Digg’s publishing partners like TechCrunch, Huffington Post and YouTube. In fact, these fake accounts almost single handedly pushed dozens of stories to Digg’s front page.

Digg-Fraud
Impact of Suspicious Accounts on Digg (full stats)

While the evidence at hand is compelling, and it’s clear that some sort of an unfair practice clearly took place, there are plenty of unanswered questions. The biggest question for me is, why? Why would Digg need to game the system, when they can easily (and more securely) achieve similar results by tweaking its algorithm? Even if Digg felt the need to game the system, it’s hard to digest that they would be so crude about. They had to be aware of the risks involved. Digg has yet to issue an official response, but they definitely have some explaining to do.

Even before this controversy broke, things were looking somber for Digg. Earlier today, its CEO acknowledged that Digg was bleeding money and let go 37% of its staff (25 employees) in an attempt to reach profitability by 2011. Announcing the layoffs, Digg’s CEO Matt Williams wrote,

“It’s been an incredibly tough decision. I wish it weren’t necessary. However, I know it’s the right choice for Digg’s future success as a business. I’m personally committed to help find new opportunities for everyone affected by the transition. Digg’s Board members have also offered to help find placements within their portfolio companies.”

Digg was once the hottest Web 2.0 website in the block. Getting dugg meant instant fame, as Digg had the potential to send hundreds and thousands of users within just a few hours. However, of late, Digg has lost most of its charm. Reddit has emerged as a strong competitor with better social features, and a more welcoming (and mature) community. Digg’s deterioration started even before the catastrophic redesign. However, if users now start losing faith in Digg’s impartiality, this might just be it for the website that changed the way many of us consume news.

Update: Digg has finally responded. According to the official explanation, the accounts identified are indeed fake accounts that were being used by the Digg team to test potential shortcomings of the algorithm.

Digg’s Traffic Goes down by 24 Percent, Reddit’s Goes up by 24 Percent

Digg users all over the world are particularly unhappy about the redesign and the Digg V4. However, another faction on the internet, the redditors have seen an increase in traffic after the Digg redesign.

digg-logo

From the very first day of the redesign, Digg saw a usurping revolt. The first page was flooded with Reddit links as a protest. The redesign has also brought some undesirable changes as the first page only shows links from top-notch blogs like Engadget. However, Digg has been biased about undoing the change and believes that it will get acceptance someday.

Reddit, on the other hand is enjoying this show as its own traffic has gone up by twenty-four percent. The coincidence of numbers is amusing even though their relation might be irrelevant. Everyone who leaves Digg will not necessarily join Reddit.

This war between Digg and Reddit took and interesting phase and the redesign being a #fail, Digg’s growth is a big question mark now. On one hand, it has already lost too much to continue any further while on the other hand, the growth and acceptance it was expecting will never realize down if Digg reverts to the earlier design. Digg has to decide and decide fast and right.

(Source)

Digg’s Redesign Fires back, with Reddit Bullets

Has it ever happened to you that as a webmaster, you change the design on your site and your readers hate it so much, they make life hell for you. Kevin Rose is in a similar situation right now because his Digg redesign is firing back on him. It has been quite some time now and Digg is still flooding with Reddit news on the front page.

digg-logo
The new submission system on Digg encourages users to submit their own content and this is saturating Digg just as it was earlier. Digg is notorious for being full of spammers and the submission system on site is in favor of big players like Engadget and CNN.

Funnily enough, the Reddit posts are submitted by the same auto-submission feature introduced in the new version of Digg. Now, as pointed out by many, it is not unusual for a site to get some initial resistance but this is massive revolt from users who are up-voting Reddit posts madly.

Digg is in trouble and it needs to respond fast to retain its dedicated users. People already hate the new but the defacing is what is more worrisome.

(Source)
(Image source)

OAuth and OpenID: Serious Security Flaw Discovered

According to Nate Lawson and Taylor Nelson from Root Labs, OpenID and OAuth, used to authenticate third party web applications and desktop applications to use web services like Twitter and Digg are under a risk of a severe security threat. In fact, the security flaw affects a host of other open source authentication services. The matter will be brought up at an upcoming security conference.

open-id-security

The flaw is based on the very controversial timing attack according to which, the attacker checks for the time required to analyze signatures and estimates if the first few characters of his attempted signature is correct or not. This process, if repeated can lead to a successful hack in theory. However, in practice, it is very hard to carry out or, that was the common belief until three years ago.

Three years ago, a timing attack was used to hack into  Xbox and the people who did this became geek gods. However, that was a direct interaction with the host. In case of a network, we need to consider many factors like network load, jitter and a varying latency.

What is remarkable is that Lawson and Nelson have claimed that they have executed this on a network as well as on a cloud and have gained sensitive information successfully. Any further details on this will be revealed at the upcoming BlackHat conference at Las Vegas.

(Source)

Digg’s URL Shortener Will Not Work for Non-Digg Links

Earlier, we saw Digg launching new and improved buttons and widgets for blogs and websites. Now the Digg team has decided to shut down the Digg URL shortener on May 17th, 2010.

The Digg URL shortener doesn’t work if you want to shorten any URL other than a Digg story. However, if you had earlier shortened links using the Digg URL shortener, they will continue to work as expected.

Here is an official announcement:

As of May 17th, 2010, the Digg short URL feature will be available only for URLs that refer to stories submitted to Digg. Users will continue to be able to share their favorite Digg stories by generating a short URL via the “Share” button. However, it will not be possible to generate a short URL for a web URL that does not refer to a submitted story on Digg. The “shorturl.create” method in Digg API will be deprecated as of that date. Previously generated Digg short URLs will continue to operate beyond this date.

Users will be able to share Digg stories using the “Share” button but the URL shortener will not work for external URL’s. This move may be a part of the design makeover they are planning to implement, but why kill the old features which so many users use? First they removed the Digg bar and now the URL shortener, god knows what’s next.

Apache Cassandra Version 0.6 Release

Apache Software Foundation has recently announced the release of the Apache Cassandra Version 0.6. Apache Cassandra is a leading Open Source, NoSQL distributed database management system.

apache-software-foundation

Cassandra is best described as,

Apache Cassandra is an advanced, second-generation “NoSQL” distributed data store that has a shared-nothing architecture. The Cassandra decentralized model provides massive scalability, and is highly available with no single point of failure even under the worst scenarios.

Clearly, it is a NoSQL database system and has a decentralized model making all the distributed components participating equally and eliminating the need of a single management point. This makes it reliable and prevents failures.

Cassandra is widely popular and is used in services like Cisco WebEx, Cloudkick, Digg, Facebook, Rackspace, Reddit, and Twitter. Facebook is an integral part in the development of Cassandra.

Chris Goffinet, Performance and Availability Architect of Digg commented on this release saying,

Digg is very excited to see Cassandra mature in the last year and graduate to a top-level Apache project. Cassandra is powering our next generation infrastructure, and allowing us to run in an environment that demands data access in datacenters around the world.

The new features in the version 0.6 are mainly speed centric. There is a 30% speed improvement in speed. Another feature is the Integrated Row Cache. This eliminates any need for an external caching layer. This makes the implementation and deployment a lot simpler.

The new version of Cassandra brings good news in times when Internet users and website loads are increasing tenfold.

Download Cassandra at http://cassandra.apache.org

Is iPhone’s Digg App Better Than The Website?

Wouldn’t it be nice to share and view all the top stories at one place? It will surely save time and lessen our effort.

Digg.com does exactly the same. Digg has been a common resting place for most of us for quite some time. Now, it’s also available on iPhones. Digg, a popular social news aggregator has released its free app for iPhone which helps you to Digg and view top stories with just a tap from your home screen. Incidentally, it’s named TapTapTap.

Using this app, you can also view popular Diggs by topic (e.g., technology, sports, business, etc.) or forthcoming articles that are about to go popular. Also, you will find buttons to like or dislike the story, a button to save the story and an option to share the link.

Digg’s latest app provides a simplified interface making browsing Diggs real easy. No extra information apart from the stories is present. Even extraneous text about Digg features is absent. It is much easier on the eyes than the site, which comes loaded with tonnes of features, colors and text.

Bookmarking is one of the prime addition to iPhone’s latest app. Now you can browse your favourite categories and bookmark them, so that you can have a look at them later on.

Inspite of its benefits over Digg.com, it sure has some disadvantages. This app doesn’t allow you to post comments and it does not include the video or images section of the site.

Meanwhile be sure to keep an eye out on TapTapTap, which is expected to put some improvements in the coming weeks.

To celebrate the launch of iPhone’s Digg app, TapTapTap is giving away a ColorWare custom, very limited edition Digg iPad every day for 2 weeks!

For further information click here.