Slightly ahead of schedule, the Betaworks/News.me team released the brand new version of Digg on Tuesday evening they built from the ground up. Digg was scheduled to debut tomorrow, but the team decided to announce Digg v1 a day early via Twitter and a company blog post. Here's what the Betaworks team built over the last six weeks:
How It Works
Each story has what's called a DiggScore, which is the total number of times a story has been shared on Facebook, linked on Twitter, or digged. What is a digg? "A digg is a thumbs-up — a positive vote — for a story," says the site's FAQ page. There's a trio of moderators that can move stories around the front page, but mostly it's decided by the amount of Tweets, Facebook shares, or diggs a story's rung up. A digg counts more than a Facebook share or Tweet, naturally. "The core of what we’re trying to get at is what the Internet is talking about right now," John Borthwick, Betaworks' founder and Digg's chief executive, told The New York Times' Jenna Wortham. You can't comment on a story yet, but the feature will likely come in a future update. They're taking flack for making you sign in with Facebook in order to digg something, but otherwise reviews on Twitter are mostly positive. The Awl's Choire Sicha summed it up best. "So Digg is... a crowdsourced yet community-less, machine-run social media tag-along 'front page of the Internet'?" he tweeted. "New things scare me!"
What It Looks Like
The new site looks slick. There's one featured splash story that takes up most of the top of your screen, and then two medium sized stories stacked on the right side of your screen. As you scroll, it splits into three columns. The white space is nice, and it reminds us of the new
Hotmail Outlook design. The lines separating the columns are a soft grey, which makes the hard black of the headlines really pop. Some of the stories have a corresponding Tweet in their display area to add context or commentary.
What Kind of Stories Are on Digg
The lead story is about Twitter's fiasco with Guy Adams, and then there are stories about sick seals, NASA's upcoming Mars landing, Zynga, and the chemistry of illegal drugs (slow down, Breakind Bad fans). Which is to say the stories on Digg are going to focus on science, tech, and the occasional "weird and wonderful" story, as Borthwick explained to TechCrunch's Frederic Lardinois.
The Parent Company Is One of the Best Parts
There's always money in the banana stand, which says everything you need to know about Betaworks' confidence in the project. Borthwick told the Times that Digg still got between three and five million users a month according to Chartbeat. They believe they can build a profitable business, but the site won't feature ads.