Digg Reminds People It’s Not Dead Yet and Still Gets 17 Million Uniques (Reddit: 28 Million)


You know things aren’t going well for a website when it has to come out and deny rumors that its traffic has fallen 50% over the last few months by sharing its actual Google Analytics numbers. It’s even worse when these numbers, while better than the rumors, are actual far lower than those of your closest competitor. That’s the state of today, a site that used to be a darling of the Web 2.0 movement in its early days, with a vibrant and active community around it, but which fell from grace when it made some misguided changes that alienated exactly those users it needed the most.

After repeated rumors that its numbers were falling dramatically, Digg had to actually post its Google Analytics numbers on its blog yesterday. These numbers show that the site still gets about 17 million unique visitors a month. While Digg has to be defensive about these numbers, though, its competitors at Reddit – which used to be much smaller before Digg’s missteps last year – now celebrate 28 million uniques in October. Digg argues that because close to 50% of its visitors come to the site directly, monitoring firms like Compete can’t accurately measure its traffic.

Digg’s Problems Go Deeper than its Traffic Numbers

Getting 17 million unique visitors is a respectable number, even though Reddit now dwarf Digg easily. The company’s problems go much deeper than just pure traffic, though. It has lost its most active users, who used to keep the site stocked with interesting stories. Earlier this year, Digg actually had to hire some editors to search the site for interesting stories and highlight them manually so they wouldn’t get lost.

Its users also aren’t as active as they used to be. Where top stories used to need close to 100 votes to even appear on the site’s front page, some stories can now get on the frontpage and move all the way down without ever reaching 100 votes. Stories with more than 1,000 votes were pretty normal on Digg just two years ago.

As a comparison: On Reddit, stories now regularly get 3,000 or more votes and hundred or even thousands of comments.

What’s most disturbing on Digg is that the community that was once so active now barely exists. Stories can move all the way down the front page with just 2 or 3 comments.

So while Digg may be posting some positive numbers today, chances are, it won’t be able to do so for a very long time anymore. It may linger around for a while, but eventually, it won’t be able to make it unless Reddit really messes up and drives its users to go to Digg again.

4:35 pm

Rumor: Kevin Rose Has Left Digg


In a few years time, the story of Digg – the once popular social news/bookmarking service – will likely be a textbook case of a big brand that didn’t manage to change with the times. For now, Digg is still a decently large site, though down significantly from its heights pre-Digg v4. The end for Digg as we know it could be near, though. According to TechCrunch’s Mike Arrington, Digg founder Kevin Rose has resigned from the company. Rumor is that he is closing a $1 million financing round for a new startup.

Headshot of Kevin Rose during a live filming o...

Image via Wikipedia

As Arrington rightly points out, Digg’s glory days were around 2007/2008, when Google was quite interested in buying the site, though that deal eventually fell through. Since then, Digg has struggled to keep up with the times and is now under pressure from social media services like Twitter and Facebook, as well as from Digg-like sites, including Conde Nast’s Reddit. The launch of Digg v4, which alienated the site’s most loyal users in an effort to turn Digg into a more mainstream-oriented service, was a turning point for the site, which never recovered from this.

For Digg, Rose’s departure (assuming this rumor is true) likely won’t result in any immediate changes. While Rose took over as Digg’s CEO after the departure of Jay Adelson (who, according to various people I have talked to at SXSW, has rarely looked as happy and relaxed than these days), Matt Williams took  Rose’s role late last year and now runs the day-to-day operations at Digg. One has to wonder, though, if others at Digg won’t follow Rose’s example and will start looking for new jobs (maybe even at Rose’s new venture).

Note: I have asked Revision3/Digg for a comment about this rumor and will update this story once/if I hear back from them.

3:09 pm

Reddit Grows as Digg Stumbles: Traffic Up 300% in 2010


When Digg v.4 imploded earlier this year, a lot of disgruntled Digg users moved over to Reddit, the smaller and brainier Conde Nast-owned cousin of Kevin Rose’s brainchild and put the site squarely on the map. With only four engineers on its staff, Reddit managed to turn 2010 into a breakout year for the site.

According to the site’s own stats, traffic to Reddit grew 300% in 2010. While the site’s servers served up a respectable 250 million pageviews in January 2010, that number was up to 829 million in December. The length of the average visit to Reddit also grew from 12 minutes and 41 seconds to 15 minutes and 21 seconds. To fulfill all of these requests, Reddit scaled up from 50 servers to 119 servers over the course of the year.


Reddit’s users also donated $185,356.70 to the relief efforts in Haiti and $601,269 to DonorsChoose.

Should Reddit Thank Digg?

How much of this growth is attributable to Digg’s issues earlier this year and how much of it is simply organic growth is hard to pinpoint. There can be little doubt, though, that Digg’s missteps gave Reddit a lot of exposure but it’s not clear how many of these new users stuck around.

While Digg’s pageviews are only now recovering from the v4 debacle, Quantcast’s data now pegs Reddit as the larger site of the two. At the same time, though, the data shows a major dip for Digg but no similar spike for Reddit. Given that neither of the two sites directly report data to Quantcast, we have to take these numbers with a grain of salt, but to me, it feels like Reddit’s success isn’t so much attributable to Digg’s stumbles but to Reddit’s own success and organic growth.

5:26 pm