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Why Digg and Reddit are Doomed (and Metafilter Isn’t)

I’d hardly call myself an internet journeyman or anything, but I’ve been around “the cloud” for several years now. In that time, I’ve learned a few things about people, specifically how they act on said web. Frankly, the Internet has a way of unraveling some of the best and brightest (as well as some of the medium-est and lackluster) minds putzing around today.

This is specifically evident in the “social news” arena. Speaking specifically regarding Digg and Reddit, arguably the two most popular sites in this space. Just to be fair, I’ve spent the majority of my time on Reddit, but I’ve also been known to poke around Digg on occasion (if there’s grass-growing nearby that needs supervision). At it’s outset, the Reddit community prided itself on being more intelligent and discriminating than that of Digg – and if you ask me, this was true for awhile. But, as Reddit grew in popularity and was acquired, the site’s users quickly went from a relatively small group of smarties to an ocean of raving dumbasses.

You’ll be thrilled to know that I have identified (and, judging by my completely subjective criteria, correctly so) the solution to this problem. It’s so simple, so elegant. Ready?

Charge a membership fee.

How’s this for irony?

That’s it, that’s the big one. All these sites would have to do is charge a fee (and it could be ridiculously small, like $1) to be allowed to post and comment. It would be a drop in the bucket in terms of site revenue, but it would raise the barrier-to-entry just enough to weed out most of the undesirables. You know why? The undesirables are generally very young and don’t have bank accounts or credit cards. I realize this isn’t true for all of them, but for the majority, I promise you that it is.

Which brings us to Metafilter. Quite possibly one of the most interesting sites on the web, Metafilter is not unlike Digg/Reddit in that it’s a collection of links to interesting “stuff” that people vote and comment on. The difference is, Metafilter charges a one-time $5 buy-in to be part of the fun (though it can be read for free). Again, probably not doing very much for them financially, but the site is also fairly lean on the pimply-faced trolls who like to stir the pot just for the sake of stirring.

Honestly, go take a look at Digg/Reddit, then go look at Metafilter (or MeFi to those “in the know) and see if you don’t notice a glaring difference between the quality of submissions/comments. I’ll bet you do.

Apologies for the rant

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