Getting Buried at Digg: Why does traffic still flow?

My article Dealing With Stupid People Online made it to the front page of Digg.

And within 10 minutes it got buried.

Sources tell me that a story is most likely to get buried if it hovers on both the (technology) and front pages in the top 3 positions for several minutes. If it goes below the top 3 quickly enough, it stands a really good chance of hanging around for a few hours. Goes to show that human behavior, even of the democratic type, is quite predictable.

But what I’m really interested in is the anatomy of a “Digg bury” – what exactly happens.

For the longest time, I assumed that for a story to get buried meant that wit would effectively become invisible at Digg.

But this morning has proven that to be false. Immediately when the story hit the front page, I started monitoring it via pMetrics. When I noticed a slow down, I went over to Digg and discovered that the story had been buried (by stupid people, no less;-)

What surprised me was that traffic continued to flow from and

What can we make of this? Well, I’m not completely sure. I have three hypotheses.

  1. Digg employs a cache, and many visitors are seeing a cached version of the front page that has yet taken the bury into account
  2. Getting buried on Digg is like being sent to purgatory. Most people no longer see your site, but Digg displays it at some predefined rate (once ever 25 pageviews)
  3. Upon hitting the front page, a bunch of Digg monitors like popurls indexed the front page article, referencing back to Digg, which shows up in the pMetrics referrals

The first option doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. Traffic continues to flow 30 minutes later and Digg can’t possibly be spitting out cached versions of its dynamic front page 30 minutes later.

The second options is a live possibility. In fact, I wonder whether it’s possible to “resurrect” a buried story if it gets enough subsequent votes. This would be very interesting. Let’s say that Digg gives a story a second chance by taking a random sampling of viewers and seeing whether they find the story interesting enough for a vote. That would be way cool.

The third option also doesn’t seem to hold up to much scrutiny, primarily because many of the referral URLs are not sub-pages of Digg but the actual front-page. If the third hypothesis were true, then I’d primarily see referrals from the Digg story URL:

6 thoughts on “Getting Buried at Digg: Why does traffic still flow?

  1. Aha. I overlooked the RSS phenomenon. That’s probably it.

    Hell, the more people who use Digg’s RSS, the less of an issue getting buried will be.

  2. Very interesting theories. Shortman is probably right, since my last article here that got dugg was sending traffic long after (did not get on the home page).

    Actually, i’ve seen something like #1 for other pages on Digg. Someone in, say, Texas could see a certain story in upcoming but try as I might I wouldn’t see it, even at the exact same time. That was in late 2006. I haven’t seen that since.

  3. And the really weird thing is that the traffic would come in waves. Almost like Digg was giving it a chance for 2 seconds and then burying it again.

  4. Yes, the traffic was coming from the homepage. Otherwise, your sort of explanation would make perfect sense.

  5. One possibility is the whole friend system. I don’t know this for sure, but if you have a friend that has dugg a story, you can still see that story in their dugg items list. Traffic could still be flowing from people’s friend’s diggs. Since the article got a bunch of diggs, the network is probably pretty big.

    Was the traffic coming from the homepage?

Comments are closed.