Probably most of you web newcomers aren’t so familiar with Digg. Well, at least not how it was three years ago or so, when Digg was the hottest name in what is referred to as “web 2.0″. But the ones of you who do have some experience online probably remember the good old days of the social bookmarking once-empire.
But the glory days are long gone and Digg has been struggling with a constant decline in traffic for about the past two years. Now, according to numerous reports across the blogosphere, the site may be heading into its final path.
The Next Web fired the first shot at the rumor celebration, reporting that The Washington Post is about the acquire the company according to multiple tips. Later on, the fellows at TechCrunch have heard that this is actually just a talent acquisition, meaning that the WaPo just want to buy Digg’s team and NOT its properties.
The most recent established report came from AllThingsD that cites more people (which are close to the company) confirming there are advanced negotiations for acquihire solely Digg’s tech team as the site will continue to operate further along with the intention of selling the rest of its properties to the highest bidder.
While some reporters finds this deal “odd”, I think it is in fact makes a lot of sense. The WaPo probably looking to bolster its social networking presence and Digg’s tech team did a nice work with the site’s Social Reader Facebook app, that resulted some boost in pageviews (which apparently still wasn’t enough to survive).
The End Of Social Bookmarking
If indeed the deal will eventually go through, it would symbolize the end of the social bookmarking era. I remember that in 2009, social bookmarking sites were the “Creme de la Creme” of the web 2.0 age (which also heading into its twilight years). But now we can say in retrospect that social bookmarking was just one of the firsts steps in social sharing.
I think that the first sign of social bookmarking downhill was when Google decided to walk away from the estimated $200 million acquisition of Digg back on the middle of 2008. Although social bookmarking sites peaked for additional 6-12 months after, the folks at Google probably already understood that the future of social media doesn’t resides in this area.
The web has evolved and more sophisticated social networking services like Facebook and Twitter gained momentum. Users began shifting towards these traditional social networks while slowly neglecting social bookmarking sites. But not all social bookmarking sites were gradually dying.
Reddit, which once was one of Digg’s biggest rivals, managed to re-brand itself as a social news website while introducing new social features in a very smart move. At the beginning of the year Reddit disclosed that its traffic has more than doubled in less than 12 months, at the same period when Digg kept losing more and more visitors.
In StatCounter, there’s still an old tool that examines the referral traffic of Digg vs Reddit from times where there actually was close competition between the two sites. Even though I doubt if the data are completely accurate, the trending from 2009 until today is very clear:
According to Alexa’s data, Digg is around 180th respectable place of the most popular sites worldwide. But when diving deeper into the data, a disturbing picture comes up. The countries where Digg is mostly popular at are (in that order): Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Nigeria. Canada is 9th, the U.S. is only 11th.
That doesn’t really surprise me because all the firsts countries on the list are also known to be responsible for major portions of the dubious marketing and spamming tactics on the web. So Digg hosts many spammers and questionable marketers and if we take them out of the equation, Digg could turn out to be even much lesser popular than perceived.
When too many spam users instead of REAL users are housed in a site, it certainly can reflect on the state of the company and in this case, probably also over the whole social bookmarking industry as well.
Update: Digg announced on a blog post that its engineering team (15 engineers) will be moving SocialCode, a subsidiary of The Washington Post company. On the post, Digg is calling for the users to “keep Digging” but its pretty clear that the Digging days are close to an end.