Welcome To The New Digg or Has Digg Dug Its Own Grave?

That’s the question on many techies’ minds today as Digg prepares to launch the newest, revamped version of the site later this week.

Digg, one of the most popular news aggregation websites in the US, that was launched in 2004, is planning a major redesign later this week. Photo: Digg Version 4 Alpha

“Welcome To The New Digg or Has Digg Dug Its Own Grave?” – this is the question on many techies’ minds now as Digg, one of the most popular news aggregation websites in the US, is planning to launch the newest, revamped version of the site later this week.

More over, the new Digg has gone invite a little bit crazy today, sending out invite links to several publications for 1,000 invites into the new Alpha version of the site.

However, as some time has gone since the launch of Alpha Version of the New Digg, there is one more question: “Will users actually use the new Digg?” The answer is definitely ‘Yes’. But you’ve got to admit, things are looking not so great for the once-popular, now-not-as-popular news aggregation site.

Its traffic is down, its business model is questionable, and it seems to have kind of lost its spark, particularly as newer and more social means of sharing the news – Facebook and Twitter – have grown to be the Web’s biggest content juggernauts.

A number of news sites are already using the new Digg. Photo: Digg Version 4 Alpha

“Having played with the new Digg for a few weeks now, I’ll say it’s definitely an improvement. It’s faster, prettier, and has some new features that make it more personal, more social, and more useful in general,” Alex Priest wrote on Technorati.com

The new 4th version of Digg is an alpha release at the moment (check Digg Version 4.0 Alpha), available by invitation only to a small number of publishers or popular Digg users (follow TheBlogIsMine on Digg) while the new systems are tested and they gather feedback.

Digg aggregates stories submitted by users and ranks them based on user votes, known as ‘Diggs’. Stories that are voted onto the front page of Digg often attract a lot of web traffic and the site also hosts active discussions around the articles posted. Users can vote stories up on the Digg website itself, or by using the Digg tool that appears on many websites.

The new version of Digg has a fresh clean design, an improved submission process, and a new emphasis on following other users to create a personal social filter for the web.

The new Digg allows you to easily finf your friends from other social networks. Photo: Digg Version 4 Alpha

Once inside you are immediately provided a list of suggested profiles that you might be interested in following. However, only big publishers, celebrities, and company profiles are being recommended, and not any normal users.

One of the main changes from the previous version of Digg is that now users can create a personalised news feed, the best of the internet filtered by brands and personalities whose opinions and taste you value. You build up a list of other users you follow and their activity then shapes and informs your experience of Digg.

Stories dugg by those you follow are ranked on the new ‘My News’ home page view (see the picture), which allows users to craft a social filter for online discovery; a list of new links voted up by trusted sources.

Alternatively there is also the ‘Top News’ home page view, which functions like the existing Digg: a global view of popular stories. The Top News view also indicates when friends have Dugg a given story, with a smaller green vote count beside the familiar yellow count box.

The new Digg home page. Photo: Digg Version 4 Alpha

Both My News and Top News can be filtered by date and topic, but the niche subcategories of old Digg are gone. Also gone are the separate picture and video lists, with some videos (YouTube) now playable directly from Digg.

There are a large number of both big and small changes to the site, but many of the original features are still around, even if shown or named in a different way.

You will notice on your own some of the smaller changes that we will not spend time showcasing, like the navigational buttons moving to the left side, bury being replaced by the single option report and others.

Categories seem to have had a major overhaul, not with name changes or additions, but rather with all the sub-categories being removed and only having one main top level category to choose from now. Even the Images and Video categories have been removed.

The Top News page on the new Digg. Photo: Digg Version 4 Alpha

Submitting content has never been easier on Digg. Where you used to have to go through screen after screen to submit content in the past, you know have to simply insert your url in the submit box, which is on many different sections of the site.

Once the url is inserted, it drops down all the options you need to submit your article, offering suggested title and description, allowing the selection of a thumbnail, and lastly picking the proper category for the submission.

Probably one more ‘big change’ that Digg has made with this new version, is the ability for publishers to verify their ownership of the site and then have all their content auto-submitted to Digg.

Once you submit your feed, through the settings section on the site, then you are asked to verify your feed by ‘simply copying and pasting the verification key provided into your next post, you can place it either in the title, body or hidden in an HTML comment.’

In conclusion, the new Digg looks cleaner, faster, more social and is easier to use and understand than before, however, it remains to be seen how Digg’s key users react to the changes in the new version. [Digg Version 4.0 Alpha via Technorati, GigaOm and Social Media Examiner]

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