Nothing is worse for systems like Digg and Reddit than repetitive, mediocre content. These networks are designed to magnify the efficiency of the Internet by taking excellent content — regardless of source — and promoting it through impartial democracy.
Ultimately, the goal is to minimize the time it takes someone to get up to speed on the most original/interesting content within a given area of focus, be it technology, politics, or whatever. When done correctly, the concept is quite beautiful.
Spamming vs. Contributing
The system breaks down horribly, however, when these communities fail to understand the difference between submitting original content and blogspamming. Many are confused about what blogspamming actually is: it’s not posting a link to something on your own blog or website (if it’s decent and original, that’s called “contributing”). Blogspamming is actually very specific (I had the Digg staff spell it out for me) — here are the requirements:
- Find interesting content somewhere on the Internet
- Post that content on your own website
- Post the link to your website rather than the original source
This is blogspamming, and it’s every bit as evil as people make it out to be. But it should not be confused with people posting their own original content. That practice, i.e. sharing ideas, is what makes the Internet so wonderful.
The Idea Bazaar
When it comes to sharing ideas, the Internet should be viewed much like a traditional, open marketplace — where people bring the artwork, pottery, clothing, woodwork, etc. for public review. It’s like open-mic night in front of billions of people.
Hello, everyone. Here’s a short story I just finished. I hope you like it…
This is what the Internet is about, and I think Digg, Reddit, and their successors should be more open to this philosophy. We shouldn’t penalize people for offering their own original content to the world just because they submitted it themselves. It’s far more genuine to do that, after all, than to artificially manufacture a third-party submission (which so many people do).
Remember that writers submit their work to publishers; they don’t wait for it to be found. Artisans have shows and invite lots of people. Academics submit to their respective journals. In short, submitting original content for peer review is an absolute must in any system that values intellectual progress.
Communities that rely on a constant flow of quality content need to adopt a mantra of judging offerings based on only two things: originality and merit. Any would-be resource that fails to grasp this concept (or later forgets it) is doing its users a disservice by discouraging would-be contributors from participating.: