Digg Makes a Play for Relevance, Increases Front Page Speed 75%

Social media moves too fast to wait for sites to update. Twitter streams move faster than most people can read. Facebook updates in real time all the time. StumbleUpon is ever-fresh and Reddit is in a constant state of flux. The Digg front page, however, has been moving very slow, often not updating for hours.

That seems to have changed.

For the last week, the Digg front page has hit “ludicrous speed.” Like clockwork, one or two stories have been hitting the front page every 10 minutes. Today, it seems to have hit lulls every now and then, but the days before have been incredible compared to a month ago, peaking at 216 front page stories on Tuesday.

The sampling from February and March are from the Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays on the 14th-16th of each month. For the month of February, an average of just under 93 stories hit every day. The last week has shown this average increase to 163 daily popular stories.

The algorithm is clearly being tweaked to find the right mix, but two things are clear: Digg is trying to stay fresh and spam has still remained absent from the front page for a while. Publishers will see a decrease in overall clicks from front page stories as each individual one gets less exposure, but the tradeoff is still a good one. More front page stories means more overall potential for traffic to high-quality sites.

It all means that the huge benefits from a single front page story are reduced – average stories do not see the 10k+ visitors that would come from a V3 front page. However, quality sites that are able to hit the front page regularly will see more exposure.

For Digg, this makes sense. A VP at Digg confirmed to me in early March that overall clicks from the site were up as a result of the front page acceleration and an increase in overall traffic at Digg.

Hopes are high. Recent changes to the platform are making users happy and new users are starting to join the site at a greater rate. Can Digg emerge from the Digg V4 debacle and still be relevant going into 2012? We’re betting on “Yes.”

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