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Will Digg Make a Category for Nonprofits?

Lori Halley 30 September 2008 5 comments

Arguably the most influential of social bookmarking sites, Digg.com is often both criticized and commended for having a narrow topic focus. With big changes in the works at Digg right now, what are the odds that the site might broaden its horizons, and add a separate category for nonprofits and social change? 

A fair number of solid stories from the nonprofit sector are submitted to Digg every day — but those stories tend to get lost in the crowd.


Demographics, to begin with.

High visibility on Digg depends on users voting for (“digging”) a story. As a result, Digg’s coveted front page tends to be dominated by stories that reflect the interests of the predominantly young male userbase. Technology, gadgets, and “oddball” news stories prosper, while nonprofits and social change languish in the shadows.

But, even more than that, it comes down to the structure of the site.

To submit a story to Digg, you have to select an appropriate category in which to place it. And for readers to find nonprofit news on Digg can be a real challenge.  Stories related to nonprofits and social change are scattered across the site, filed variously under Technology, Business, Science/Environment, Lifestyle…

One of our readers, Ashley Messick, makes a compelling case for a dedicated  Digg category for nonprofits:

Recently I was wanting to Digg a blog post about using Twitter for Nonprofits and I ran into the age-old dilemma of how to categorize it. I got to thinking about what a great resource center it would be if Digg had a category for nonprofits. I tweeted about my thoughts and got some positive responses that fueled my thinking.

Currently nonprofits are really starting to consider how they can utilize technology and social media in general to help their causes. Nonprofit tech and Nonprofit social media blogs abound and in general we are all forced to rely on our RSS feeds and bloggers in general to spread nonprofit news and resources. In my opinion Digg would be just what the nonprofit world is looking for. Plus I think that it would be a great addition to the Digg community - a group of do-gooders who are looking for a way to further their individual causes and the collective cause of helping the worldwide community.

At the present time Digg doesn’t have a very good spot or way to categorize stories pertaining to nonprofit news so we wind up trying unsuccessfully to use the search function and spread the Dugg stories in blogs and through tweets. Wouldn’t a Nonprofit category on Digg be a much better fit?

She has a point.

And I think there’s a potential benefit to the nonprofit sector, here, that would be far more significant than even the much-talked-about “Digg effect” — server-crashing floods of traffic drawn to a website when a post hits the front page of Digg (although, of course, most of us are delighted to gain new visitors to our sites!):  Think, rather, nonprofit zeitgeist.

The strength of Digg lies in the fact that users “collectively determine the value of content,” as Digg itself puts it.

And it doesn’t stop there. Because Digg is all about sharing and discovery, there’s a conversation that happens around the content. We’re here to promote that conversation and provide tools for our community to discuss the topics that they’re passionate about. By looking at information through the lens of the collective community on Digg, you’ll always find something interesting and unique. We’re committed to giving every piece of content on the web an equal shot at being the next big thing.

When social-marketing blogger Alexandra Rampy (SocialButterfly) explored Digg for the first time earlier this summer, she found the site both useful and frustrating: “Unlike some social bookmarking sites,” she says, “Digg lets me get feedback and hear more from peers about the type of content I submit to it. And, I get to see/read what peers find interesting which helps me find new and interesting content.”

But can stories from the nonprofit world really get an “equal shot at being the next big thing,” if they’re competing for attention with the stories of celebrity scandals, tech gadget fads, and Wall Street bailouts?

With last week’s announcement of a $28.7 million investment in Digg — slated to fuel Digg’s plans for “personalizing the Digg experience, enhancing the recommendation system across other areas of the site, creating deeper category and topic content views and more ways to discover and organize content” — perhaps there is some hope for a Nonprofits and Social Change category to be added.

What do you think?

Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Tuesday, 30 September 2008 at 2:15 PM


  • Ashley Messick said:

    Tuesday, 30 September 2008 at 10:12 AM

    Thanks for posting this Rebecca. I like that you really center in on the fact that Digg is about community and collective action. What could be more fitting with nonprofits and social change than that?

    Now of course on a more logistical and less philosophical view point -

    "But can stories from the nonprofit world really get an “equal shot at being the next big thing,” if they’re competing for attention with the stories of celebrity scandals, tech gadget fads, and Wall Street bailouts?"

    I'm not sure if many nonprofit stories would - but is that the point? I think there is a lot of back and forth about if Digg is all about "making it to the front page"? In my opinion I would love to be able to go to Digg, click the nonprofit tab, and see what makes it to that "front page". I don't care about the Mario Brothers cartoon or YouTube video or many of the things that the (you're right) predominantly young white male population thinks is important. I want to be able to zero in on what my peers in the nonprofit community and those who care about social change think is important. I think that the way Digg is currently set up it is difficult to do this any other way.


    side note: If you are looking to help prove to Digg that there are a number of us out there either Digg this article and also please Digg Beth Kanter's blog post about a similar topic: http://digg.com/business_finance/Add_Non_Profit_Category_to_Digg (where we have centered our Diggs up until now).

  • Beth Kanter said:

    Tuesday, 30 September 2008 at 12:52 PM

    We had some debate about whether having a nonprofit category on Digg would put us in a silo or help raise visibility.

  • Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

    Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] said:

    Tuesday, 30 September 2008 at 5:36 PM

    Ashley, thanks for providing the link and for following up on your email. It would seems that Digg is entering a period of evolution, so this is likely a good time for this conversation!

    Logically, the Digg/nonprofits relationship could go one of two ways from here: either nonprofit news continues to "duke it out" with other stories in the various categories, or it goes into a category of its own -- integration or segregation?

    It might depend in large part on what audience one hopes to attract through a Digg submission: interested seekers from within the nonprofit sector, or "accidental tourists" from outside the sector who might come across a compelling nonprofit story while they're catching up on the iPhone news. (Beth, would I be right in thinking that's behind the debate you mentioned: silo vs visibility?)

    There are those who maintain that all stories -- regardless of sector -- should be able to compete on a level playing field for public attention and readership; that if there is to be a category for nonprofits then there'd also need to be one for Agriculture, for example, or Military interests...

    And then there's the question that Ari Herzog raised in a comment on your post, Beth -- "Is Digg the right network?" Could it be that a different social-bookmarking site might be a better place for collecting and filtering the nonprofit news?

    Digg will do what Digg will do, of course, in the end -- they'll do what makes sense for them as a company.

    Which brings us to the question I posed in the title of this post: "Will Digg Make a Category for Nonprofits?" Want a prediction? Given the green-shifting social climate, a nonprofit.Alltop.com, a Charity//Nonprofit category on StumbleUpon, and similar tracks in the sand -- I'd not be a bit surprised to see it happen, and sooner rather than later.

    Your thoughts?  

  • Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

    Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] said:

    Tuesday, 30 September 2008 at 5:41 PM

    The discussion continues!

    Read the new post at Beth Kanter's blog: NpTech Summary: Nonprofit and Social Change Digg Redux for detailed background on aggregation of nonprofit news online, both sides of the nonprofit-Digg-category debate, and what the nonprofit sector's leading voices are saying about how nonprofits can/should use Digg.

  • Melanie Guin MNM said:

    Wednesday, 01 October 2008 at 4:55 AM

    I have found that many sites on the net that categorize content fail to have a nonprofit category. It's quite frustrating, as I feel that while nonprofits are definitely a business, most times nonprofit info doesn't seem to quite fit with the other information that typically gets categorized under "business". Maybe we'll get lucky and the Digg folks will heed our call.


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