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Monday, January 23, 2006

Rong Thach, Digger

Rong Thach aka DarkHack is a frequent digg user, both submitting new stories and digging news of others. In fact, he’s so frequent he made it into the top 10 of the busiest digg users. His user stats at this time list an impressive 358 stories by Rong that made it to the front page. I’ve asked Rong about his life and his thoughts on digg.

Hi Rong! Could you give us a brief intro to yourself – where are you from, how old are you, and what do you do for a living?

Well first of all, my name is Rong Thach, but you can just call me Ron. I was born in Cambodia, but was raised in Thailand and then came to the United States when I was little. I’m 28 years old, and currently living in Jacksonville, FL. I attend Florida Community College of Jacksonville, majoring in computer information science. I’m also currently between new jobs.

Do you still speak Thai fluently?

I’m Cambodian, also known as Khmer. Therefore, I’m not Thai and no I cannot speak Thai either.

The reason why I was raised in Thailand was because my family had to escape a violent war in my own country, and we made refuge in Thailand for a few months or years until we came to the United States.

If you’re wondering if I speak Cambodian, the answer is “Yes”, but not all that good though. I mostly just speak straight English, and maybe might speak a bit of Cambodian when I’m talking to my family.

How did you first find out about digg? And when was that?

I first found out about when Kevin Rose used to be on The Screen Savers during TechTV. Kevin Rose was talking about Slashdot, and how users submit tech stories and the editors get to choose which stories get to be on the front page. So Kevin Rose had an idea where users can submit stories and the readers get to choose which stories deserve to be on the front page, not the editors.

What do you like about digg?

What’s totally awesome about is that users get to choose the stories to be on the front page instead of the editors. Whatever stories that get to be on the front page, we can comment on the subject of the stories, and at the same time make new friends.

You can preview what stories users are submitting on, and what other users dugg for to be on the front page with digg spy.

Those are some of the awesome feature provides users, and yet there’s more to come soon.

Could you explain what “digg spy” is and why it’s useful?

Sure, digg spy is a page on where you can view what other users and readers are digging or what stories they are submitting on, in real-time.

Is there any feature on you don’t like much? (If so, can you explain why?)

There isn’t a feature on that I don’t like, or none that I couldn’t think of.

About how much time you think you spend on digg everyday?

I spend about an hour reading stories on, whenever I got some free time. I’m usually on during the morning, afternoon and evening.

Did you start out digging for news stories right away, or were you just lurking in the beginning?

At first, I was just looking around and read stories, but after a few weeks, I started submitting tech stories.

Where else do you submit tech news (if anywhere at all)?

Well, I tried submitting stories at Slashdot, but none of my stories ever made it on the front page. Therefore, there isn’t any other place where I could submit my own tech stories other than

I think that’s one of the things that can make you frustrated with Slashdot, that so many stories get rejected. With Slashdot’s approach, it’s a necessity, I guess. Did you give up on submitting to Slashdot, or do you still try at times? And about how many stories of yours were rejected, do you think?

“Yeah, it sucks to be rejected.” LOL...

Anyway, I really haven’t submitted any stories on Slashdot after the first time I tried. I really don’t remember how many stories I submitted through Slashdot, but it doesn’t matter now anyway.

For the time being, is here to stay.

Do you think both and Slashdot will happily co-exist... or do you think Slashdot’s concept of a limited group of editors is doomed?

I believe that these two tech website will remain to exist for people who are looking for tech news sources. I have no idea what the future has in store for the both of them, but I’m sure they will continue to be successful and continue to provide us with the latest tech news.

It’s not a popularity contest between these two tech websites, but what matters is the content that they provide for the readers. Therefore, readers can either choose Slashdot or for the latest tech news.

Do you have a strong community feeling at Did you find new online friends over there?

I strongly support, no matter what and yes I always do make new friends on

What are your approaches to find tech news outside of How do you go hunting for the good ones?

I usually start out by looking through Google News, Yahoo News, MSN News and a few others. But, I never could replace with any other tech news sources.

What’s the relation of your person blog to the stories you dugg on Do you blog what you digg, and vice versa?

It’s up to the person who wanted to blog my stories if they choose to, and I sometimes do blog about a certain story that I submitted if I find it very interesting to write about.

On your user page, it looks like you already dugg 1,000s of stories. What kind of tech stories from others would you say get your digg (your approval)?

Well, I mostly dugg all stories that are on the front page, or the one that I miss on the front page, and I read whatever I find that seems pretty interesting to me.

Your user name on is DarkHack... why did you choose that nick?

DarkHack is just an alias nickname I came up with that describe me as a sci-fi and tech fanatic. It also has something to do with hacking and information gathering.

You probably are wondering if I’m a hacker, but “No” I’m not. I don’t think of myself as a hacker, but as a person who gathers information in the dark.

Sometimes, the comments on are very spontaneous, or some may say, immature. What do you think on that?

I think people have the right to comment on whatever they want. Sure, most are immature or rude, but hey, it’s the freedom of speech and people want their voice heard.

Diggnation is a podcast/ video show covering things that appeared on Do you listen or view diggnation?

Absolutely and I already have them on my iTunes bookmarks.

Kevin Rose in a recent podcast interview at Technorama hinted that may open up to cover more topics than just tech news. Would you like that? Would you also participate digging for other content than tech news?

I think it’s a great idea because it’s an opportunity to expand capability to the world on social bookmarking, allowing users to submit and digg stories without any editors. I think will grow to be even bigger than before, and I also think there are plans to add new features and tools to improve Therefore, people should keep an eye out on in the near future.

If someone wants to submit a story to, what does he need to keep in mind to make it a successful story?

First all, you have to find out if the stories that you wanted to submit are already being submitted by someone else, or else it’s a dup. Everyday, users make this mistake without checking first to see if the stories have already been submitted or not.

In the past, I made a lot of mistakes when submitting stories which had already been dugg by someone else. The truth is, at, no one is perfect when it comes to submitting a story.

Also you have to make sure the stories aren’t a year old because readers will find them lame or think they’re a piece of junk. Eventually, everyone will get used to it when they experience how works for a few week or so.

What kind of story would never get a digg from you?

Anything that sounds lame or if the source’s website is down.

If Kevin Rose asked you to invent the concept for a new digg feature over the weekend, what would it be?

Hmm, maybe creating a forum where people can get together and discuss whatever is on our minds, or even help one another finding resources that can be useful. Other than that, video content on digg would be cool.

Where do you see the web in 5 years?

Hmm, I see more professional bloggers on the web, a lot of web 2.0 sites, websites with AJAX content, still growing, and Slashdot probably will remain the same as always.


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