Balancing Participatory Media

It is a ongoing debate: how much power do you give the mob? That is essentially what individuals are if all are given absolute free speech. Systems in some way shape or form must be in place if any kind of production, voice or ideas are going to come out of the people.

I find it interesting that Scott Karp calls out Digg in his article The Delicate Balance of Participatory Media, for not listening to the community. He even references another article in which Tony Hung states: “based on the utter silence, Kevin Rose deserves a failing grade.” Which I find interesting because I feel of the many social networks that I belong to Digg listens to its users and respect their opinions more then any other site. While it is true many of the top diggers have been upset about the recent changes in the algorithm, the algorithm changes were made to make the system more balanced. The top diggers that he is referring to represent less then one percent of all users so surely this was the right decision to ensure an equal voice among all members. In fact I have found that Digg staff and Kevin Rose have been listening quite a bit. When Digg rolled out a new comment system users immediately complained stating that it was too slow and unattractive. Kevin Rose responded within the day stating they will be working on making the comment system better. Also users have been asking for a picture section and a video section which were also added within months of the initial requests. And when Digg was pressed by lawyers to take down the HDDVD encryption key the Digg team folded to demands and took the story down. Users were outraged and voiced their opinions and within a few hours Digg heard their demands a put the story back up.

On the other hand the ever popular Facebook has gone through a number of changes to which the user base revolted. Such changes as opening facebook to all users and adding ‘Applications’ to the website have caused users to protest and the Facebook Team has responded by stating that ‘you will get use to it’. A gigantic¬† F*** You to the install base that had made them popular in the first place. The problem is with all of these changes many users have declared the website to be getting old and others still are stating that it is becoming too much like Myspace; this very thought has been echoed by other writers calling the changes ‘Facebook Fatigue’.

Digg has created a slight paradox for itself and the rest of the web however; users now expect this kind of treatment and will not settle for anything less, but is that really all that bad?

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