Few to many

Richard MacManus has published some striking statistics about Digg, supplied to him by the site Diggtrends. The data reveal that of Digg’s 445,000 registered users, only 2,287 contributed any stories to the site during the last six weeks. But here are the real eye-openers: The top 100 users contributed fully 55% of the stories that appeared on the site’s front page, and the top 10 users – yep, you can count ’em on your own two hands – contributed a whopping 30% of the front page stories. Peer production? I think a better term for it would be peerage production.

Diggtrends also reports, according to MacManus, that there was a sudden and dramatic increase in user submissions after Jason Calacanis made his offer to pay top social bookmarkers. Digg users, says Diggtrends, “have realized the value of being a top user and probably are aiming for Netscape money.” No doubt there are such things as reputational capital and attention capital, and people will compete for them. But they’ll compete harder for cash. With cash, after all, you can actually buy stuff.

UPDATE: Diggtrends (or is it Duggtrends?) has posted its analysis. Meanwhile, Calacanis gloats, announcing he’s succeeded in luring away two of the top 10 Diggers.

9 thoughts on “Few to many

  1. Seth Finkelstein

    No, no – “digital sharecropping”.

    And isn’t it a somewhat Unexpected Consequence for a relatively cheap Netscape offer to be spurring lottery-like behavior at *Digg*?

  2. JasonCalacanis

    Seth: 150 posts is ~$7 a post.

    It takes 10 minutes to do a post.

    6×7=$42 an hour.

    $42 an hour = ~$1,600 a week for a 40 hour week.

    $1,600 a week = ~$80,000 a year.

    If someone takes 20 minutes per story that’s $40k a year.

    While it may be a small offer in terms of dollar amount it is not a small number in terms of time/effort.

    Of course, we’re hoping Navigators put in even more stories because they love it.

  3. Rob Jones

    There is an implicit assumption here that posting quality will stay high from the paid story submitters. I would guess that currently the “top 10” from social news site “X” currently impose pretty strict self-censorship on stories which fall below their quality threshold – after all it’s key that the story reaches the front page to be a top user isn’t it?

    If you’re now getting $7 a post, whether front page or not, won’t the tendancy be to lower this threshold, just to pick up those extra bucks. This has to be the temptation when it’s a straight correlation between pressing the submit button and $7.

    It strikes me that is if the submitters are paid per post, the quality has to suffer, and so will overall story quality on Netscape.

    If the submitters are paid per front page story, then the figures quoted by Calacanis above are not achievable.

    So, either the site loses out in overall quality of content or the submitters don’t get paid nearly as much as the math above suggests.

    As I commented on this blog earlier, it’s not all about the money for people on these sites. It’s about community and recognition, and these will likely be eroded when cash is the primary motivation.

  4. Oliver Widder

    (Please excuse me as I’ve already posted this comment on “Benkler on Calacanis’s wallet”. But it fits also on this blog post.)

    I made a cartoon about paid social bookmarker.



  5. Sid Steward

    And isn’t it a somewhat Unexpected Consequence for a relatively cheap Netscape offer to be spurring lottery-like behavior at *Digg*?

    The whole thing validates the value of Digg’s voters. They seem to identify quality stories and quality submitters.

  6. Sid Steward

    It would also be interesting to analyze the sites and authors whose stories get dugg to the front page. Maybe they deserve a raise, too.

  7. jawandapuck

    “The data reveal that of Digg’s 445,000 registered users … the top 10 users … contributed a whopping 30% of the front page stories.”

    The numbers suggest a very active head and a passive very, very long tail. How do the monetizing economics of the long tail apply in this case?

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