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Digg says goodbye to Auto RSS

Posted by on 12/02/2011

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Common sense prevails once again at the Digg offices, this time with the announcement of the automatic syndication feature being removed. This means if site owners want to promote, they have to manually post links via their pages. It sounds like a fantastic idea in my opinion and should have never gone on stream in the first place.

Even though we don’t have an account at Digg, I personally got an email sent out to publishers on an old account I had regarding another site.

According to the email, Auto RSS showed very little popularity with only 4.5% making front page. Sounds obvious, because I would not want to go to Digg to read syndicated stories when I already see them on Facebook and Twitter. Manual submissions have always been the way to go because the top pick of the crop make it to the front page rather than a bunch of spam and garbage.

Also, the community lost interest in submitting because they had to compete with publishers leaving their accounts to auto post stories with no real work of promoting and interacting within the Digg community.

Spam was another obvious problem which caught up with them, and they said tech support had it up to their necks.

Below is the full letter which came from Digg’s Product Manager Mike Cieri.

Publishers,

We hope this message finds you well. After a bumpy second half of 2010 at Digg, we are starting to see positive signs of improvement and are optimistic about the direction Digg is headed. In January 2011, we saw double digit growth of diggs and comments, as well as an increase in unique visitors and exit clicks out to publisher sites. We’ve taken a number of concrete steps to stay better connected with the Digg community, and we are taking action to improve Digg based on our community’s feedback. One important point of feedback we’ve heard is that RSS submitted stories are hurting Digg in a number of ways, and in the next week we are going to discontinue the ability to submit content via RSS. We’d like to share the reasoning behind the decision, and let you know what you can do to improve your performance on Digg.

Put very simply, most RSS submitted content is not performing well on Digg. For many of our users, RSS submissions take the fun out of finding and submitting great content. When users try to submit a story to Digg and find that the story has already been auto-submitted via RSS, they lose interest in helping spread the story on Digg by commenting and sharing with friends. Removing a user’s desire to champion a story results in less diggs, comments, exit clicks, and ultimately a much smaller chance of making the Top News section. Our analytics reflect this point – only 4.5% of all Top News content comes from RSS submitted content (95.5% is manually submitted).

At its core, Digg is a community of passionate users who take pride in the content they submit and engage with one another in discussion and promotion of viral content. There is a perception that some publishers don’t participate in the community, use RSS submit as an “auto-pilot” tool to submit content without discretion, and do little to promote submitted content or start discussions. This is one reason why many popular publishers, despite having tens of thousands of followers, are not seeing strong referral numbers for their submissions. Some publishers have cultivated a tight following on Digg by digging and commenting on content other than their own, adding Digg buttons prominently to articles on their site and limiting the content they submit to just their best content. These publishers are seeing much more value from Digg.

Finally, the RSS submission tool has been heavily abused by spammers and has been a constant drain on our technical resources to identify and fight off spam content. The simple act of forcing a manual submission helps to combat spam and ensures that quality content appears on Digg.

So in the next week, the feature will be disabled. We wanted to give advance notice of this change and encourage you to start submitting your best content manually to Digg. You can also enable your audience to help submit and spread your content on Digg by placing Digg buttons on each story item on your site. We are confident that removing RSS submissions will help increase exit clicks to your sites, and ultimately help you receive more value from Digg.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or thoughts.

Thanks,
Mike

Luckily, Digg has been on the road to recovery recently and we hope that they can get back to the top where they once were.

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