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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

How to Not Get On the Digg Homepage

Here’s a surefire way of ensuring your site won’t make it to the Digg social news frontpage:

  1. Ensure you’re not the source of the story. If I had to pick only a single method to not make the Digg frontpage, this would be it. Let’s say CNN breaks the news that Steve Jobs dates Britney Spears. This is potential Digg material – geeks love Apple, and the rest loves Britney – so what you need to do is pull a short quote from the CNN article and paste it into your blog, optionally with a link to CNN. You then write an introductory sentence preceding the quote, something along the lines of “Look what Steve Jobs is up to lately,” and you’re done.
  2. Focus on revenue. You have a story, but you also want to make money. Hence you must emphasize one thing on your blog or other type of website: ads. Typically, filling the top 75% of the screen with AdSense does the job, but if in doubt, add a blinking banner. (Note that focusing on revenue includes not wasting any money on stable servers – invest in the cheapest host you can get. As the saying goes, a site down is a site undugg.)
  3. Be factually incorrect in your title. This one takes a bit of thinking, but it’s well worth it to avoid the Digg homepage, and the accompanying “Digg effect” of having 10,000 people stomp over your website leaving nothing but dust. Being incorrect in your title is all about exaggerating (e.g. “Microsoft Acquired XYZ!!!” is appropriate if Microsoft is rumored to be in talks with company XYZ), or wrongly interpreting a story (e.g. “New Programming Language Called ’Python’ Released” if there’s an update to Python). But don’t restrict yourself to these two types of misinformation; be creative, mix up the order of cause and effect, and include puns so your point is lost (if all else fails, just lie).
  4. Submit in Chinese or French. Other languages work as well, as long as it’s not English. 他们看不懂,他们不能digg – what they can’t read, they can’t digg!
  5. Post old news only. Avoiding to be trapped on the Digg homepage is a lot about timing. Fresh stories are likely to accumulate more diggs, so the rule of thumb is: “If it’s older than a month it’s ready for Digg” (or in net speak: IIOTAMIRFD.) If in doubt, search before you submit, and only post stories that have already been submitted at least thrice.
  6. Beat around the bush. If your article or site has a long and windy introduction, it’s easier to get lost in the daily news stream. Thus the best way to start your article is with a headline that’s nothing but a pun. You can then continue with a mystic quote from Edgar Allan Poe, followed by around 5 paragraphs of background. If you have a conclusion or breaking news, make sure you slowly build up the suspense and only reveal it in the very last sentence; usability gurus call this the “pyramid" style of writing.
  7. Emphasize boring news. Your cat didn’t drink her milk yesterday? Blog about it! And submit your blog post to Digg! No news is too mundane when you want to steer clear of the frontpage.
  8. Include spleling errors. Please note that this particular tactic is only successful in combination with other tactics mentioned above. Just including a spelling error will not shield an otherwise exciting submission from hitting the top of Digg. However, in combination with factual incorrectness, old news and beating around the bush, typos are known to perform splendid. To find some inspiration for spelling errors, search Digg for “teh”, “goolge”, “kevni rose” and so on.
  9. Be critical of Digg. The biggest fault Digg newbies succumb to when trying to avoid the Digg frontpage is to praise Digg. Be aware that such pro-Digg submissions may hit the homepage faster than you can say “fanboy,” so they need to be avoided at all costs. If possible, trash Digg in your submission.
  10. Use 9 or 11 items. If you’re creating an article with a topical list, like “The Best Unknown CSS Tricks” or “Reasons Why Bill Gates is Overpaid (And You’re Not)”, include less than 10 or more than 10 items, but never exactly 10. It’s a bit of a miracle, but any page containing the number 10 holds great power over the minds of readers, creating an instant heartfelt desire to spread the URL in question.

With that in mind, good luck! (And please don’t digg this article... mmokay?)


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