American in Spain

Digg Virginity Lost

October 7, 2008
Ugh!  Dugg!

I have submitted several of my own blog posts to Digg over the years. The ones I think are particularly clever (The Solution to Iraq), or funny (McCain-Palin Morph), or useful (Widgetize Anything), or artistic (Desk Traffic), or nerdy (Distance to Horizon), or political (Can Sarah Palin really see Russia from her house?), or satirical (Spain Discovers Mars). Most of those received between one and three diggs. My record was 12. Yesterday, I posted a simple pet peeve of mine, albeit fairly well reasoned, and somehow it got submitted to Digg and shot up the rankings, continuing to get dugg long after my webserver collapsed and was just showing "DATABASE ERROR" messages. One clever commenter said that "The server is feeling the wrath of god".

My previous reasons for submitting my articles to Digg was to see what strangers thought of my opinions and to get an occasional mention on other blogs, which increases my page rank and brings interesting outside opinions. After all, you never know how much you might end up caring about a random blog visitor.

It was an exciting hour when my blog's server was completely flattened by Digg traffic. It was unresponsive, and even after hard reboots (physically flipping it off and back on), it got overloaded several times before we could ssh in and turn off the web server. Eventually we managed to get in a redirect to send traffic from Digg to a Google Cache of the blog post and install WP-Cache. Also during this process, the ability for everyone inside the office to reach the outside internet was lost. Nothing makes people stand up from their cubicles and walk down to the IT department like an internet outage. And our main networking guru was on vacation, of course, so, between the rest of us, we managed to piece together a solution. Actually, we didn't. We decided to give up, since it was already 5pm and people were going home, and then just as we were saying our parting words, the network came back up, apparently our solution needing time to take effect. Yay! "Who says quitters never win?" I quipped.

While the server was down, the digg count went from 200 to 500. Let me repeat that again, 300 people dugg a broken link. It just goes to show that the secret to Digg is hitting a critical mass where sheep people are interested enough in the story summary and comment threads that they digg the article without reading it.

Of course there's nothing like fame to bring out the critics. Here are a few of the more interesting comments I received.

Ask an agnostic if God exists and they'll say they don't know because it's never been proven or disproven.

Ask the same person if they believe in leprechauns, and they'll say no.


P.S. I hope your professor gives you extra credit for using "epistemological". It makes you sound philosophical.

This came from someone at Funny how students can't think outside the professor/term paper framework.

From my study of matter, I would define atheism as a scientific declaration and agnosticism a philosophical one.

I think this is the most correct criticism of my line of thinking. It points out a fundamental misunderstanding in my assumptions. I tend to think of atheism and agnosticism as if they were comparable. I suspect that this unnamed commenter is correct. Scientifically, I'm an atheist (that's a little redundant, surely), but philosophically I'm an agnostic. They are independent variables.

Now that I've been through the experience of "being dugg", I must say that, despite a little soreness, I think I've survived well. I still have no idea what makes a "diggable" blog post other than a lot of luck and a possibly-perceived-to-be controversial issue.