Dumplings from this Panda!

Oct 27

Responses by Various Digg Users

Various digg users have made very nice arguments on digg. I should stress here that these are just the responses I personally liked. The link to comment on digg does not work well, so I am pasting a few here:

Response by davidtc:

"We’ve used test accounts since day one…"

Day 1 of what? Of the new algorithm on October 15th? Of V4? Day 1 of the last 4 years?

“Most importantly, we should have been forthright with our community about our testing efforts and we’ll certainly do so in the future.”

So lets hear it. Be forthright about what I am asking cause it doesn’t add up to what you are saying. Here is why.

I ask this cause on V3 we could see the “who dugg this” list (btw, bring it back). This would have been easy to spot with that list. These are obviously new accounts, so this leads me to believe this is a new thing you guys are doing which doesn’t help with your story. Why would we believe you have to make 100+ new accounts each time to test stuff?

Now that you are being “open” about it, why were the ones caught deleted? Going to make new accounts again? It doesn’t make sense to make new accounts to test a mundane thing like mass digging to see what breaks. The best reason to delete the accounts is so they can’t be monitored anymore. Now since you are going to “continue to use them” that must mean you are making more new accounts to do this. Again, deleting the caught accounts while saying you are going to continue to use test accounts is a big red flag that you don’t want them to be monitored. Why wouldn’t you want them to be monitored if you are going to be forthright about them?

It doesn’t makes sense when you look at what was found and what you said when Digg is going to be “forthright” about it now. Sorry, I’m not fully buying it.

Response by Rooper:

Okay, internal testing. Fair enough.

Why, then, did they appear to digg things only to propel them to the front page? Surely that means whether you label it as “testing” or not, you’re still gaming your own system for the benefit of a few advertisers. Why did you “test” with those domains? Why pick large publishers, rather than something more obscure?

If this is indeed legitimate testing, then there should be records (accessible from the API) that show similar patterns from previous “tests”. They’re a needle in a haystack for us to find, but *you* should be able to find them and show us.

And probably most importantly, these “tests” appear to have been performed using 150-ish dummy accounts. Is Digg really so easy to game that all you need to do is create 150 accounts and use them to digg stuff? Really?

Something isn’t right here.

Response by c_caliente:

Right. They think it’s the perfect excuse.
The program that generated the fake diggs is probably the same they use for internal testing on their dev/staging environments.
So I’m guessing they decided lately to use it on their production environment out of desperation, in order to promote articles and to create a phony sense of user activity. ( think of all the articles hitting the FP with only a handful of comments. Those are harder to fake).
No competent developer would consider running persistent tests on a production environment. Period.
Now Digg is acting as if it’s the most normal thing in the world, so they can deny their act of desperation.
They just hit a new low.

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So, let me get this straight. You guys run tests on your production environment?
Wow.
What a convenient excuse to deny the fact that you are adding fake diggs to promote articles and to give a phony sense of user activity

Response by endersgame:

I am sorry but I just don’t quite buy it. Why would all these accounts have been created so recently? Why were so many accounts created and why was the digging activity so much and so consistent? Why was the digging enough to affect the promotion of articles to the front page on such a large scale? And finally, why were the “test” accounts deleted immediately after the digg staff was emailed about the discovery, before it was made public?

It sounds like a phony excuse to me. Why can’t we see who dugg a story? Why would you take that feature away? Why would you take away the bury option? How stupid do you think we are?

Response by bigkahunadaddy:

Yes, creating test accounts to ensure your algorithms are doing what you want them to be doing is critical. Even if that’s what you were actually doing, testing the algorithm on the primary web-facing site is pretty dumb.

I’m sure that some testing needs to be done on the primary web server, but I can’t imagine that what was being done couldn’t have been done on internal development servers. Instead of doing that, you chose to change the user experience by promoting stories to the front page that weren’t chosen by the users. Isn’t that the whole point of the site?

Either you guys did something shady or you did something stupid. Either way, it doesn’t endear you to the users that are already leaving in droves.

Response by vtbarrera:

I’d like to know more about how you guys chose which publishers to Digg. I know they’re just “test accounts”, but they seemed to have quite the impact given how much the Digg population has dwindled.

Response by dvsbastard:

These “test” accounts were the entire reason that these publisher articles made the front page (as suggested by ltgenpanda), and this has been going on for a while now. This suggests that the algorithm is completely vulnerable to such gaming (something you apparently learned)… yet you continued to run these “tests” knowing they were having a negative impact on the data making the front page of the site.

Long story short, your testing was dictating what was appearing on the live Digg front page…This hardly sounds like testing to me.

I will continue to add more as I find any.


  1. ltgenpanda posted this