Ever wondered why you see so many mises and Lew Rockwell (who the hell are they?) articles on digg and how someone fixed the system to always push them to the front page? Read on!
"I thank everyone for getting me to 361." -- post on underground Libertarian Digg mailing list, about "Fixing" Digg.
"I'm seeing more complaints in the comments about all the Mises.org articles hitting the front page. Should we be more selective?" -- post on underground Libertarian Digg board, about their success in fixing Digg.
"I really think this has been a phenomenal opportunity to spread the ideas of Austrian economics to a huge market" -- post on underground Libertarian Digg mailing list, about fixing Digg.
Now the Libertarians are doing it. I was wondering why I've seen literally dozens of articles on Digg.com from a marginal source called "mises.org" and lewrockwell. Who are they, and where were all these articles coming from? These were not great articles, one was an extremely dry treatise complete with charts, graphs and footnotes about extremely arcane economic theories. I thought -- "Wow, 200 people are interested in obscure schools of Austrian Economics?" I guess it's possible.
Day after day this went on. Mises article after mises article after LewRockwell article. Then another mises article popped up, a full page ad for a book. Not just any book, a book that was written decades ago. I thought "Wow, a hundred people are interested in an ad for an obscure economics book?" And they're digging this ad?
Okay, I didn't really. I immediately thought "Okay, some scumbag somewhere has figured out how to game the system and post any old crap to the front page."
"It might be helpful to post libertarian articles that do not explicitly identify themselves as libertarian." -- Post on underground Libertarian Digg fixing board
Naturally, I mentioned this in the comments to one of the articles and started a massive flamewar. After vacuuming my burnt hair and eyebrows from the floor, I noticed that SWCarson (Stephen Carson) had an actual link to a manifesto he had published on mises.
Ahah! I thought! Sure enough, it was a simple instruction page to tell mises readers who know nothing about digg how to digg up stories, not for the quality of the story, but "to influence the content of Digg." But that's not the story. Many dishonest people do that.
And then I noticed the mailing list. I just had to join! Wouldn't you? Oh yes! Oh baby yes! You can check out their genius high-security system here: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/libertariandiggers/messages
I started reading, and reading -- they were talking about me, among others, that I was complaining about the quality and sheer quantity of mises crap that was being pushed to the front page. And even the Libertarians on the newsgroup were complaining that they were promoting too many of their posts to the front page!
"...one must approach this gingerly, not spam the hell out of the site and alienate many of the users." Dan DeRoo, the L-Diggers
So rather than thinking to themselves, "Hey, what we're doing isn't the right thing -- maybe this isn't moral to fix the system?" they didn't even slow down. Even after one of the "L-Diggers" (which is what they call their little fixing community) themselves complained about the massive amount of posts:
A day or two ago I received two emails from the L-digger group. Between the two posts, they listed 9 stories off of LRC's home page. LRC only links to 12 articles per day. If we're going to put 9 of those on Digg why don't we just Digg all 12? These two emails hit my inbox within 5 minutes of LRC updating its page for the day. Did the
Whoa. "Put 9 of those on Digg?" Who controls the front page? "Dave" asks the rhetorical question about no one actually reading the articles, but he knows the answer. He knows that even they don't read those articles. This isn't about submitting good articles, this is a spamfest. Hell, they don't even read them.
Since people need this pointed out now, what they are doing is wrong. Absolutely immoral. Digg is not a place to organize a agenda pushing group. It is not a billboard. It is not an advertising medium. Digg is supposed to be about individual articles. If Kevin Rose wants to give control of the front page of his site over to this group, he'd do it in public and they wouldn't have to do this covertly.
This wasn't moral. It wasn't "hey this article is great" it became a covert agreement to just digg up any and all articles that pushed whatever someone wanted. It was a trade. It was a business arrangement.
How do they justify it? Because they see themselves as being somehow held back by the "gatekeepers" -- for those who don't know it, every wrong in the world is justified by playing victim. You're not held back because people are against you, Libertarians, you're held back because your ideas are superficial and doing wrong against Digg doesn't help.
The most interesting thing to me is that after going through these posts on their "L-diggers" group, not one, not one Libertarian questioned whether or not this was the right thing to do.
The L-diggers are moving their underground message board, presumably to reduce their profile. You can see Stephen Carsons' post here:
After this page was published, the L-Diggers started defensive posting, as you can see from the exchange below. My only response is "Yeah, sure guys. You didn't post that kind of thing until after you were exposed.":
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, August 10, 2006 12:55 PM
Subject: Re: [libertariandiggers] "Complainers"?
I agree, the only suggestion I would have is to post some that attack Republicans (anti-Bush stuff, etc) and others that abuse the Democratic platform. We can get friends from each side, and perhaps even change a few minds to the beliefs of liberty.
I do a lot of both, but don't ask this list to digg them. They live or die on their own.
As of August 14th, and after this expose, they have removed access to the archives at the yahoo group libertarian diggers, leaving only the message "The group libertariandiggers is temporarily unavailable."
I guess they were embarrassed at what they wrote. If it was honorable, it would stand up to scrutiny.