Jason Calacanistalks about how hiring the top digg users has brought netscape forward and will change the future etc etc.
Techcrunch asks if the balance is shifting towards paying users and also says netscapes pageviews have increased etc.
I think both views are wrong, this is one of the few cases where I can look at whats going on with hindsight and the current players think this is all new unique and exciting.
The top 20 or so users on these sites will direct and set the culture of a site. People who do not agree with the leaders, ie their stories don’t make it to the top will get pissed off and leave the site. Eventually you will start to get cliques forming that vote each others stories and take over a category, much like what is happening at digg right now.
Now unless the top 20 of your users are intune with your audaince your site will go nowhere. Jason was able to buy his way into the market by taking away diggs leadership and instantly have some good stories brought up to the top.
So what will happen to digg? Pretty much nothing, even if they banned the top 50 users the next 50 users would step up and become the top users and work as hard as the top users are now. Because of the way the system works the users 50 -100 have very similar interests as the top 50. The top 50 just happen to get them up faster for whatever reason. Social Media follows the power law, if the A listers in the tech industry got hit by a train tomorrow, there would be a completely new A list within a month. This only works if you have website or industry with thousands of contributors.
So what is the take away from all this? If you want to buy your way into a market buy the top contributors your competitors. If you are a huge site, develop a LOT of clique busting techniques. When you get large numbers of contributors they all end up becoming friends, or share a very narrow range of interests and ideas. I have hundreds of thousands of users contributing to my site in various ways. In places such as the forums i’ve gone and banned the top 50 users several times as cliques just get to out of control and have no connection to the mainstream anymore. In the next few months we will see digg battle its top members as they fight to control the cliques and its not going to be pretty.