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Digg returns: Betaworks gives the site a second chance

Following its Betaworks acquisition earlier this year, the Digg team announced a plan to redesign and relaunch a new site in under six weeks. A late July launch saw a redesigned app and Digg site, with plans for more soon. Can Digg recapture the glory years of user-generated content with its overhaul, or will it struggle in its new form?

  • Bryan Bishop

    Apr 25, 2013

    Bryan Bishop

    Instapaper acquired by Betaworks, owner of Digg

    Instapaper founder Marco Arment has just announced that he doesn't own his creation anymore. Betaworks, which also owns Digg, has acquired a majority stake in the read-it-later service. In a post on his personal blog, Arment explains that Instapaper had grown beyond its original beginnings in 2008 as a web-only service, and that maintaining it was no longer feasible for a one-person operation. "To really shine, it needs a full-time staff of at least a few people," he writes; hence the deal with Betaworks.

    While it was an early pioneer in the world of iOS apps, in recent years Instapaper has faced increased competition from services like Pocket and Readability. However, Arment is quick to point out that the Betaworks deal places the "health and longevity" of Instapaper as "the top priority," and that he will continue to stay on as an advisor to the product indefinitely. But the deal could have even more interesting future ramifications for Betaworks.

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  • Nathan Ingraham

    Mar 14, 2013

    Nathan Ingraham

    Digg will build its own version of Google Reader, should sync with existing clients

    digg stock 2040
    digg stock 2040

    Faithful Google Reader users have spent the last day asking themselves what they'll do when the RSS service shuts down on July 1st, and one of the more unlikely options might be coming from Digg. The company just announced in a blog post that it plans to build its own version of Google Reader that "makes the Internet a more approachable and digestible place." The company's vision involves identifying and rebuilding the best features of Reader while simultaneously making it "fit the Internet of 2013." From the sound of things, that'll include plenty of ways to hook your RSS into the social web, as the company explicitly mentioned sites like Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Reddit as "powerful but often overwhelming signals as to what's interesting."

    The company had actually planned on doing this in the second half of 2013, but following Google's announcement, the company says its RSS reader project has moved to the top of its priority list. To help pull this new project off, Digg is currently asking for suggestions and feature requests from potential users. Ideally, since Digg plans to use the Google Reader API, the new service will sync with existing clients. It's too soon to say whether or not this will be a seamless substitute for Google Reader, but it should give RSS junkies a little bit of hope.

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  • Ben Kersey

    Jan 10, 2013

    Ben Kersey

    Digg: We've doubled our users since August

    the new digg homepage
    the new digg homepage

    Digg has revealed in a blog post that the site has doubled its users since the relaunch in August. The company failed to decline to provide exact numbers, however, and traffic analytic sites seem to counter Digg’s claims. Data from Alexa and Quantcast suggests that traffic has been on a steady decline since the site’s launch in July, with Google Trends also indicating that interest in the site has dropped off. That doesn’t mean the site is floundering, though: Digg is starting to drive some healthy referral traffic once again.

    The social news aggregation is now turning its attention to monetization. In the blog post, Digg talks about how the "Apps We Like" posts on the homepage are an effort to generate some revenue. Developers can apply to have their apps appear on the homage, with one new entry going up every week. If accepted by Digg, developers will have to pay a fee to have their app featured, with the post clearly being labelled as "Sponsored" to site visitors.

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  • Dan Seifert

    Aug 30, 2012

    Dan Seifert

    Digg Archive offers users access to their old data

    Digg Archive
    Digg Archive

    Longtime users of the aggregation service known as Digg were at a loss when the site's new owners unveiled a complete redesign earlier this year and cut off access to the years of submissions, articles, comments, and Diggs that users had accumulated. The new Digg promised that users would eventually be able to access all of their old data, and today the company launched the Digg Archive, a tool for them to do just that. The Digg Archive contains it all: Diggs, articles, submissions, comments — essentially everything that users had posted to the old version of the site.

    Once you have signed in and accessed your data, Digg has made it simple to transfer the information into Kippt and Pinboard if you wish, or just download it wholesale in JSON or CSV format. Earlier, the company had said that users would be able to "browse" their data on the archive site, but it appears now that it is only available for export to other services. While this likely won't make users of the old Digg fans of the redesign, it should satisfy those that have been looking for a way to access their old data.

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  • Spammers and web marketers hate the new Digg

    neal rodriguez digg
    neal rodriguez digg

    Online marketer Neal Rodriguez, who wrote an ebook claiming he drove "over 37 million pageviews and closed millions in sales for clients through social media," is especially miffed. A one-time power user, Rodriguez has had a lot of advice for Digg over the years. He's argued that Digg should "embrace marketers" and once chided the site for banning users that used scripts to automate actions and modify parts of the site.

    Rodriguez's peers in online marketing are no less upset. "We’ve posted dozens of stories today to Digg without a single one making it into the upcoming section," wrote JD Rucker, editor of the social marketing blog Soshable. "In one fell swoop, Digg has imploded," David Leonhart writes at seo-writer.com.

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  • Digg's resurrection: can Betaworks revive the once-loved site?

    Digg v1
    Digg v1

    Digg.com, the beloved aggregator that rose to become one of the most influential sites on the web but then fell into disrepair, relaunched yesterday from a completely clean slate. None of the old Digg remains, and the 10-person team working on the project is calling the new site Digg version 1. The familiar list of links on the front page is gone, pushed aside in favor of a news-style layout curated by three editors who pick top stories and protect the site from spam.

    The new Digg team is all from the Betaworks business incubator in New York that bought the Digg name, branding, and codebase. Betaworks developed the social news reading application News.me, which sparked its interest in Digg, and I interviewed some of the new team about what went into redesigning the site in six short weeks.

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  • Dieter Bohn

    Jul 31, 2012

    Dieter Bohn

    Digg launches redesign and new app with editorial curation, no comments

    the new digg homepage
    the new digg homepage

    Digg's "Rethought' redesign after its acquisition by Betaworks has just gone live, just one day after the company showed off its v1 preview that was the result of a very rapid 6-week redesign process. It's technically a day earlier than its original goal of August 1st, which could be a sign that the site intends to be just as "fast and thin" as the new look itself. Old features like the Newsbar and Newsrooms have been scuttled in favor of a simpler site that emphasizes top stories, popular stories, and "upcoming" stories. Betaworks also says that it's changed the Digg score to take social sharing from Facebook and Twitter into account when ranking stories. The front page of Digg will also be editorially driven instead of entirely based on a Digg score algorithm.

    Such rapid development has meant that some features had to be left by the wayside. Specifically, commenting isn't here at all — a concession that means this is more news portal than user community at the moment. Whether and how a commenting system would look on the redesigned Digg remains to be seen, but Betaworks says that it plans on conducting "a few experiments in commenting that will inform more permanent features." Notably, you have to log in with Facebook in order to Digg stories, a feature Betaworks says is a defense against spam, but not necessarily a permanent feature of the site.

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  • Chris Welch

    Jul 30, 2012

    Chris Welch

    'Rethought' Digg previewed ahead of launch with a focus on simplicity

    Digg v1 preview
    Digg v1 preview

    Digg is just days away from relaunching under the umbrella of new owner Betaworks, and its developers are providing a behind-the-scenes look at what you can expect when v1 of the site goes live on August 1st. Shortly after closing the acquisition — the total cost of which remains unclear — Betaworks announced Rethink Digg, a project aimed at redesigning what was once a hugely popular web destination from scratch in just six weeks. Now we're seeing the results of that effort, with v1 of Digg described as a "fast and thin" experience that's been tailored for desktop browsers and mobile devices alike. You won't see any ads on the new site, which Betaworks says has been "optimized for return visits" rather than focusing on page views during any individual session.

    Simplicity is another priority for the new Digg team and they've accordingly thrown out overwrought features like Newsrooms and the Newsbar (or "Diggbar"), which was first axed by Kevin Rose & co. in 2010 — one of the few positive changes in that much-maligned redesign. Instead, the experience will revolve around three key areas: Top Stories, Popular and Upcoming. The Digg score itself has been reconfigured and now combines sharing on Facebook and Twitter with the site's own ranking system. Something you won't see in v1 of the "rethought" Digg, however, is commenting, with Betaworks conceding that creating an engaging comment system was a larger task than their six-week development window permitted.

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  • Laura June

    Jul 20, 2012

    Laura June

    Digg announces 'Rethink Digg' plan to rebuild in six weeks

    Digg
    Digg

    On July 12th, ailing social aggregation site Digg announced that it had been acquired by Betaworks. At the time, Betaworks confirmed that Digg would be folded into its News.me property. Today, Digg has another announcement, in the form of new site rethinkdigg.com, where it says it plans to rebuild the brand from the "scratch," and it intends to do so in just six weeks.

    On August 1st it will roll out its first version, and Digg is now taking feedback from users in the form of an online survey.

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  • Laura June

    Jul 12, 2012

    Laura June

    Digg sold to Betaworks, reportedly for $500,000

    Digg
    Digg

    Betaworks has confirmed to the Wall Street Journal that a deal to buy social news aggregator Digg closed today. The price Betaworks paid for Digg, say the WSJ, is just $500,000 — far, far lower than previously reported offers from Google in 2006 which were estimated at $200 million (though Kevin Rose himself put the number at $80 million). Founded by Kevin Rose in 2004, Digg underwent a hugely unpopular redesign in August of 2010, which is credited in part with its decrease in popularity. Digg is estimated to draw between 4.5 and 7 million unique visitors each month. Rose resigned from his role in the company in March of 2011.

    While the deal itself is confirmed, the purchase price so far, is not. While the purchase covers the website, technology, and brand, none of Digg's remaining employees are part of the deal. Many of Digg's engineering team has already departed however, leaving this past May to work for The Washington Post's SocialCode. The Wall Street Journal also reports that Betaworks intends to fold Digg into its News.me property.

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