Beware the wrath of Reddit (Digg, StumbleUpon, etc)

Is paying for placement on social media sites evil? Absolutely. Just ask the people who live there.

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A personal but related note: A publication I once blogged for that shall go unnamed strongly urged all of its bloggers to become power users on Digg, because that was its primary way to boost traffic to its stories. Traffic, as we all know, equals ad revenue. (In this case, it also meant revenue to the bloggers, who were paid a fraction of a penny per pageview.)

Becoming a Digg whore -- err, sorry, power user -- meant spending 6 to 8 hours a day on Digg, laboriously collecting Digg friends, constantly voting up their stories with the expectation they would reciprocate -- kind of a big game of you scratch my amusing picture of kittens and I'll scratch your video of people doing faceplants.

I said thanks, but no thanks. And I got no traffic, and the blog died. (Now Digg is floundering, and that publication needs to come up with another strategy.)

Here's my question: Is paying someone to vote up your blog post/amusing kitten picture all that much different than the reciprocity routinely practiced on social aggregation sites?

Or let me put it another way. Are the things that rise to the top of [name your favorite social media site here] really the best and brightest available? Or is it just random stuff a handful of people who are lacking in the life department happen to like?

Let's look at "what's hot" on Reddit right now:

* A not-especially-funny trailer for what I assume is a mockumentary titled "Gawd Bless America."

* A "humorous" letter to someone's dead girlfriend, allegedly posted as an ad on craigslist.

* A photo showing how badly people park when it snows out.

* A photo of a flyer for a "lost and very very crazy" dog.

To be fair, number one on Digg as I write this is a photo gallery of attractive women dressing up as Misty from Pokemon.

They're right. This is much better than what you'd get if somebody got paid to promote stuff.

Woyke apologized to the Reddit fans she inadvertently offended. In a just world, they would be apologizing to her.

ITworld TY4NS blogger Dan Tynan is wearing asbestos bvds in anticipation of the response to this blog post. Catch his brand of juvenile snark at eSarcasm (Geek Humor Gone Wild) or follow him on Twitter:@tynan_on_tech.

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