A site on the web is asking folks to vote on features they’d most like to see implemented on Digg. One of them is a user rating system based on
comments. Personally, this is the feature I’d most like to see implemented. We know which users can get stories to the front page, but that is only half of the Digg experience. The other half is the dry, witty, insightful, or interesting comments about the submitted stories.
If you’re fast, or submit a ton of stories, or know how to uncover that hidden gem in a sea of web pages, you can get a story to the front page. But what does it take to garner a lot of diggs on one of your comments? In my personal observation, I’ve noticed several factors that will get your comment dugg, or buried, faster than you can say ‘all your base are belong to us’.
Comments that get dugg:
The easiest way to get dugg is also the hardest. All you have to do is post something incredibly humorous, and your comment will be dugg within an inch of its life. Of all the nice, insightfull, thought provoking comments I’ve made on Digg, the one that got the most response was a silly comment I made on a video about birds. Mine is the third one down.
But humor is hard to pull off. Nothing will get buried faster than if it is painfully obvious that a poster is trying to be funny, but is not. Or when you’re trying to be sarcastic and nobody realizes it. A comment has to be sharp, wry, witty and dry, or preferably all of those and more. Humor is hard because it has to be fresh and new.
One last note, if you have something really funny to say, you really should read ALL of the comments. Smart people read Digg, and chances are that somebody has already said something similar. Just the other day I saw the picture of the boy on a bike with a huge bag filled with natural gas trailing behind him. My first thought was, “no smoking!” I clicked on the Digg comments, and sure enough, somebody else had already used the exact same phrase. It was discouraging to see that somebody else had made the same comment, but with a little bit of mental exertion, I came up with what I thought was an equally funny comment that I posted as a reply.
Another type of comment that is often dugg up, though not as much as the clever ones, are those that are genuinely helpful. If you post a link to the dugg mirror, or information relevant to the story at hand, you’re almost always given a thumbs up. In order to do this, you must first read the article. Don’t post a link to a story that says the same thing.
I know it is shocking, but sometimes information makes it to the front page of Digg that is biased, incomplete, or simply not true. If you post a comment that helps fill in the picture, or makes a person think, you will often be rewarded with a dig. Conversely, if you make a comment that is biased, incomplete, or simply not true, be prepared to go down in flames.
If you look at the top six stories last year, 3 of them are about somebody who died. We digg these stories because they move us, emotionally. Last year the nation was shocked when Steve Irwin, better known as the crocodile hunter, was killed in a freak accident. I hear about celebrities dying all the time, but I didn’t know why Irwin’s death came as such a shock. Then I read tslack’s comment, and it summed things up perfectly. tslack summed up our feelings, and received 900 diggs for his effort. These types of comments are usually short, direct, powerful and representative of our feelings.
The simple fact of the matter is that comments near the top of the page are going to be seen more frequently that comments at the bottom. If you want your comment near the top, you’re going to have to wade through the ‘upcoming stories’ and post before they get to the front page.
Some diggers think that an alternative to being quick is simply reply to the first post so that your post appears higher up. You can do this, but be warned, your reply had better well actually be relevant to the comment, and not just a vain attempt to get your name at the top. If your reply is off topic, and lame, you’re going to get buried at a much higher rate than if you had posted the same lame comment at the bottom. If your comment doesn’t apply to a thread, don’t post it there.
How to Get Buried
Doing the opposite of any of the above will get you buried. If you try to be funny but aren’t, you’ll get a thumbs down every time. If you post spam, you may as well break out the marshmallows because you’re going to get flamed. If you’re cruel, if you state the obvious, if you troll, if you post off topic…all of these things aren’t tolerated, and rightly so. You’ll end up having to tell your friends to click on the ‘show comment’ button anyway, despite the triple digit negative number on top of every comment you make.
So, there you have it – hope that helps you get your comments more diggs. The most important thing to remember, however, is that you’re not making comments so that you can stroke your ego. The goal is not to get a large number of thumbs up so that you can feel good about yourself, get a big head, or write home and tell Mama that you’ve made something of yourself after all.
The whole point of comments is to add to the positive experience of the Digg community. The point it so make somebody else laugh, or think, or feel more deeply. If you do these things, your comments will get the diggs, and Digg will be a better place for all of us.