'Anonymous Digging'? What could go wrong?

This item will likely interest only those readers who use Digg. The rest of you are excused.

A prominently displayed link on the site today asks: "Have a few minutes to help Digg? Take this quick survey and give us the good, bad, and (hopefully not-so) ugly to help us build new Digg features."

Among the six new features being considered is one that would represent a significant departure from Digg's longstanding rules of engagement, and, if actually implemented, could cause grumbling among the site's influential power users. Here's how it's described in the survey:

"Anonymous Digging - you can Digg and bury stories without logging in to a Digg account, so that it's as easy as 1-click to tell us when you like or dislike a story. (Don't worry, Digg has mechanisms in place to prevent a user from Digging the same story multiple times.) You can log in or create an account to save your Diggs."

There are no details so there will be questions. For example, as things stand today a user who submits a story to Digg can see the Digg identities of everyone who Dugg (up voted) the submission. Would Anonymous Digging end that practice entirely or create two separate categories of recorded submission Diggs, identified and anonymous?

And how much confidence will the community have in that "don't worry" assurance about anonymous users stuffing the ballot box?

Anonymous "burying" -- or down-voting a submission -- is already standard procedure, although today it requires that a user be registered and logged in to their account. Allowing non-registered users to bury stories would likely increase the already widespread concerns about "bury brigades," i.e. organized efforts to keep certain topics and submitters off the Digg front page.

Here are the other four features being considered, according to the survey:

"Customized Digg gives you the latest popular stories tailored to your interests on the Digg homepage, based on what you're reading and Digging. You can also easily customize your likes and dislikes with a few simple clicks, or opt to look at the traditional Digg home page of the most popular stories.

"Save to Read Later allows you to flag story headlines you find interesting, and Digg will keep a list that you can easily access later, so you can read the articles at your leisure.

"Digg Groups allow you to create, subscribe to or browse groups so you can discover and share content with people who share your interests. By connecting you with similar Diggers, you can discover great content on specific topics that may never hit the homepage."Digg Breaking News presents "hot off the press" news topics on the home page based on a rapid rise in interest by the Digg community. See the most talked-about topics at a glance, and browse and read related stories. Hot topics will remain on the home page for as long as they're newsworthy -- as determined by the Digg community.

"Digg Verticals allows you to discover the most popular content by thousands of areas of interest, from broad topics such as Technology, Sports and Entertainment to niche topics such as iPhone News, Nintendo and Surfing. You can choose to be notified when stories in your favorite verticals become popular."

Let the discussion among Diggers begin.

This story, "'Anonymous Digging'? What could go wrong?" was originally published by NetworkWorld.

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