Earlier today, I’d posted on Linkastic about Wired‘s story on how rankings at Digg can be manipulated using money. Well, Michael Arrington over at TechCrunch has a problem with this: Wired‘s parent company owns Digg competitor Reddit, he points out, and he perceives a pattern to how they’re gunning after Digg, in this case “actively creating negative news about a competitor and then using the massive reach of Wired to promote that ‘news.’”
“Digg should sue Wired,” Arrington’s headline reads, which I think isn’t practical. Users aren’t stupid, and they’re the ones who will pass judgement on Digg and Wired’s behaviour. If Digg’s system really is corruptible, if there aren’t enough checks and balances in place, then the quality of stories on the site will suffer, and so will its readership. You don’t need a sting operation by Wired to achieve that.
Equally, if Wired is being unethical for commercial reasons, then readers will see through that, and Wired‘s credibility will fall, impacting their readership. You don’t need Digg to sue for that.
In either case, the people will decide. Or the markets, if you will.
My take: By and large, Digg works pretty well in displaying the wisdom of the crowds, and that isn’t going to change anytime soon. And Wired has enough credibility for most readers to accept that there was no ulterior motive in reporting this story. This time. The next time Wired wishes to bust the Web 2.0 party, though, they’d be well advised to look towards Reddit.
(Arrington link via email from Gautam John. You can read related posts by me here.)