With Digg on the Wane, Where Are its Former Power Users?

With "king of all social media" on the wane, where have all the Power Diggers gone?

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As for those who migrated to Reddit, many found themselves competing in a far different environment when they got there. Because of its use of subreddits, each one with its own moderators and rules, Reddit is much harder to game and the community is more aggressive about downvoting stories it doesn't like. With Digg, the power users could each digg each others' submissions, but this strategy has a much weaker effect on Reddit (many people would say this is a good thing).

Even Sorcini, who arguably grew to be more powerful on Reddit than he had been on Digg, grew disenchanted when the site, without warning, banned his account. It occurred when Reddit instituted a controversial set of bans for mainstream news organizations like the Atlantic and Businessweek for alleged spamming. Sorcini had frequently been submitting links to the Atlantic's In Focus photography blog, and the Reddit mods banned his account because they assumed he had been one of the spammers. "I haven't gotten back to Reddit since then," he said, a touch of exasperation in his voice. "Unless they want to accept my version of events and reinstate my account, there's no point in me continuing my activities on the site."

Surprisingly enough, some Power Diggers have continued to cling to their old stomping grounds, and they say that, despite the negative headlines, Digg still has some kick to it. "The last one I saw some really good stats for was a story my friend Greg wrote," said Rodriguez. "He got about 500 votes from Digg and it got tens of thousands of views coming from Digg itself. It's dying a slow and painful death because it keeps getting bad publicity, but it still has potential. It still has the ability to kill."

Last week, Betaworks, the company that purchased Digg, said it'll be rebuilding the site from the ground up in just a matter of weeks. Even after Digg's decline, Comscore claims it still pulls in 7 million visitors a month. With those kinds of numbers, perhaps the redesign still has the potential to spawn a new generation of power users who can rebuild the site's tarnished influence. But after disappointments with previous attempts to jumpstart the community, this new iteration will be met with no shortage of skeptics waiting in the wings. Digg's power users always warned the site's owners that they were the lifeblood of its network, and when it was at its peak traffic periods the owners merely turned up their noses at them. Now that these new owners need to reignite the same enthusiasm that encompassed the site just a few short years ago, they'll find that getting the community vibrant and active again will be no simple task.

Simon Owens is an assistant managing editor at U.S. News & World Report. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. He can be reached at sowens@usnews.com.