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On Digg and Flame-Proofing Your Ego

Digg users are famously hostile. In fact you could say the internet in general has long had a reputation for being hostile. What can we do to avoid the worst? What can be done?

This post will probably kiss away any chance of me getting on the Digg homepage again but such is life.

I’m taking a break from my “Making Money” online business series to talk about this for two reasons. First I was discussing the issue with a couple of friends who had both been upset by nasty comments from Digg readers. They were both so upset with what was written they are avoiding reading Digg altogether. The second reason is I am sure you are getting sick of me writing on the money topic for the last week! :)

To be fair to Digg, there are a lot of intelligent and friendly users on there and Digg is not the only site these sorts of comments appear on. Some stories on social sites can be more valuable for the comment threads than the story itself sometimes, even if one or two idiots try to spoil the conversation.

Somehow though, and I am not sure why, Digg in particular has attracted a particularly nasty herd of trolls. There are a bunch of folks on there who write stuff purely intended to knock, diminish or otherwise upset.

I’m not sure what sport they get out of it. I can only think their fragile egos are tickled by the thought of making another person feel smaller. Whatever the reason, it is making a sour smell around the site for people who would otherwise enjoy it.

While even some of the worst threads I have seen also contain one or two glimmers of humanity, when being attacked it is often the worst that is remembered rather than the positive. The worst part though is they often do not leave their nastiness on Digg but actually follow the link to leave more garbage on the blogs comment area.

A community reflects its founders and managers. If Kevin Rose and co are not putting a curb on the sorts of insults and trolling we see then they are implicitly encouraging it, agree?

Fortunately these sorts of comments do not matter as much as we feel they do.

Do you really care what some random angry and frustrated teenager ranting from their parents basement thinks? Unless they are your most wanted audience I think it is safe to discount any or all of their opinions, don’t you? :)

The way I look at it is to treat it as pantomime. If you are prepared going in to see a load of superficial trash talk and know to discount those opinions as being the random barking of idiots then it doesn’t have the sting it would have.

Comment flames only hurt us if we choose to let them 

You will find when you actually sort through the trash many of the flames have little to do with your article anyway. They call the author a spammer or attack Pavlov style any time they see the word “Blog” used.  When you understand that most of the more vitriolic posters never even took the time to read your article you feel more pity than anger.

Let them rant. It could be good therapy for them ;)

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Comments

  1. I lot of insults are pure jealousy. People see a blog thats not too different to their own hitting the Digg homepage with a story that they could almost have written and want to rain all over their parade.

    Of course these people will never understand Digg and probably couldn’t string sentence together.

  2. I lot of insults are pure jealousy. People see a blog thats not too different to their own hitting the Digg homepage with a story that they could almost have written and want to rain all over their parade.

    Of course these people will never understand Digg and probably couldn’t string sentence together.

  3. That should say “A lot” rather than “I lot”.

  4. That should say “A lot” rather than “I lot”.

  5. I think you are right, it is either jealousy or ignorance 9/10

  6. I think you are right, it is either jealousy or ignorance 9/10

  7. I think there is an element of jealousy too. As you say, some of these people see someone else achieving something they aspire to and feel hurt and frustrated. However, rather than try to reach the same level, they lash out, trying to hurt their supposed rival in return.

    It’s sad really. I know the remarks are hurtful, but we should pity the people who make them because all that time and energy they devote to hurting others, would be better spent on working towards whatever goals they wish to achieve.

    On the other hand, some people are just mean, and there is no excuse for them.

  8. I think there is an element of jealousy too. As you say, some of these people see someone else achieving something they aspire to and feel hurt and frustrated. However, rather than try to reach the same level, they lash out, trying to hurt their supposed rival in return.

    It’s sad really. I know the remarks are hurtful, but we should pity the people who make them because all that time and energy they devote to hurting others, would be better spent on working towards whatever goals they wish to achieve.

    On the other hand, some people are just mean, and there is no excuse for them.

  9. Yeah I guess for some people it seems like too much effort to create something

  10. Yeah I guess for some people it seems like too much effort to create something

  11. I actually felt bad about lot of flaming comments but then I decided to wear that thick rhino skin :P. I think ignoring these comments is the best way of keeping away from these stupid people.

    As you said that its best to ignore these stupid guys and its better to concentrate on answering the comments of the guys who have posted something good.

  12. I actually felt bad about lot of flaming comments but then I decided to wear that thick rhino skin :P. I think ignoring these comments is the best way of keeping away from these stupid people.

    As you said that its best to ignore these stupid guys and its better to concentrate on answering the comments of the guys who have posted something good.

  13. That rhino skin is good to have :) It took me years to develop my own but I would never be without it now

  14. That rhino skin is good to have :) It took me years to develop my own but I would never be without it now

  15. Yeah I would agree with developing the “Rhino skin”. I tend to laugh off the comments, because in some cases they are rather witty. I remember when I got Dugg, 9.9/10 comments were flamers, but some of those flamer comments actually helped me to remould and change little snippets of the post I had submitted.

    You’re right that not all Diggers are brainless, but those clever ones tend to browse rather than comments anyway.

  16. Yeah I would agree with developing the “Rhino skin”. I tend to laugh off the comments, because in some cases they are rather witty. I remember when I got Dugg, 9.9/10 comments were flamers, but some of those flamer comments actually helped me to remould and change little snippets of the post I had submitted.

    You’re right that not all Diggers are brainless, but those clever ones tend to browse rather than comments anyway.

  17. I’ve never been on the receiving end of the onslaught, so I can’t really comment, but yes, I have seen such an attitude on other blogs that have – you nailed it really.

  18. I’ve never been on the receiving end of the onslaught, so I can’t really comment, but yes, I have seen such an attitude on other blogs that have – you nailed it really.

  19. @Adnan – I think a lot of the clever Digg users are as put off by the idiots as the rest of us :) I visit Digg every day and just skim the comment areas now.

    @Karthik – I can’t remember my last post that got real nasty feedback but I do see others get hit a lot. Perhaps we should have a competition to see whos post can get the worst comments? ;)

  20. @Adnan – I think a lot of the clever Digg users are as put off by the idiots as the rest of us :) I visit Digg every day and just skim the comment areas now.

    @Karthik – I can’t remember my last post that got real nasty feedback but I do see others get hit a lot. Perhaps we should have a competition to see whos post can get the worst comments? ;)

  21. lol, I’m sure you’re going to be on the losing end there Chris, simply because my best posts have only received single digit Diggs so far ;) (So no question of receiving inflammatory comments!)

    But if you ask me, its a package really – if something good happens (increase in traffic and backlinks), there’s bound to be something bad, albeit at a different level(as in, receiving nasty comments). The level of either is what matters – sometimes there’s more good and less bad and vice versa.

    Err, does it show that I lean heavily towards philosophy at times? ;)

  22. lol, I’m sure you’re going to be on the losing end there Chris, simply because my best posts have only received single digit Diggs so far ;) (So no question of receiving inflammatory comments!)

    But if you ask me, its a package really – if something good happens (increase in traffic and backlinks), there’s bound to be something bad, albeit at a different level(as in, receiving nasty comments). The level of either is what matters – sometimes there’s more good and less bad and vice versa.

    Err, does it show that I lean heavily towards philosophy at times? ;)

  23. Heh, you sound like my friend Damian. Every good thing that happens to him makes him on high alert for the bad ;) I prefer to think there is an abundance of good in the world and you can never have too much good fortune :)

  24. Heh, you sound like my friend Damian. Every good thing that happens to him makes him on high alert for the bad ;) I prefer to think there is an abundance of good in the world and you can never have too much good fortune :)

  25. I don’t know that it is jealousy and ignorance alone. It seems to me forming community has a price, and that more tightly knit communities are going to have common tastes (and for our purposes, “prejudices”) that cause some people who’ve done nothing objectively wrong to be victims.

    Look, someone who enjoys being a troll has every incentive to be on the Internet. The worst that can happen is that your e-mail gets banned.

    Now social bookmarking – having power over what is and what is not read – is a major incentive for trolls. Not only is there little or no penalty in the first place for being a troll, but now trolling can have a dignity like it has never had before. Think about it this way: forget trolls for a second, and imagine you were talking at a cafe with someone who spent a good portion of his time at Digg. Would someone who spent hours reading articles that were mostly lists and commenting in the threads about the relevance of such articles strike you as particularly thoughtful?

    If some Digg users aren’t trolls, we should be worried as human beings: it isn’t like Digg is the equivalent of the Lyceum.

    I think what Digg represents is a community whose reason for existence comes very close to being a troll manifesto. After all, some trolls do want to exert power: they want to know their voice counts more than your content.

    A solution: Tony Hung pointed out that the top Diggers don’t blog for the most part. I think if they did try to provide actual content, and didn’t aim for popularity among their set merely, Digg would be a much better site.

    I have no such solution for Reddit, btw – I think that community is very far gone. There’s nothing resembling a voice of moderation there, on any topic. There is a point of no return on communities, and it’s hard to explain when that has been reached, even though it might not be hard to tell.

  26. I don’t know that it is jealousy and ignorance alone. It seems to me forming community has a price, and that more tightly knit communities are going to have common tastes (and for our purposes, “prejudices”) that cause some people who’ve done nothing objectively wrong to be victims.

    Look, someone who enjoys being a troll has every incentive to be on the Internet. The worst that can happen is that your e-mail gets banned.

    Now social bookmarking – having power over what is and what is not read – is a major incentive for trolls. Not only is there little or no penalty in the first place for being a troll, but now trolling can have a dignity like it has never had before. Think about it this way: forget trolls for a second, and imagine you were talking at a cafe with someone who spent a good portion of his time at Digg. Would someone who spent hours reading articles that were mostly lists and commenting in the threads about the relevance of such articles strike you as particularly thoughtful?

    If some Digg users aren’t trolls, we should be worried as human beings: it isn’t like Digg is the equivalent of the Lyceum.

    I think what Digg represents is a community whose reason for existence comes very close to being a troll manifesto. After all, some trolls do want to exert power: they want to know their voice counts more than your content.

    A solution: Tony Hung pointed out that the top Diggers don’t blog for the most part. I think if they did try to provide actual content, and didn’t aim for popularity among their set merely, Digg would be a much better site.

    I have no such solution for Reddit, btw – I think that community is very far gone. There’s nothing resembling a voice of moderation there, on any topic. There is a point of no return on communities, and it’s hard to explain when that has been reached, even though it might not be hard to tell.

  27. High abundance of good? Err… please tell me all the places you have been to make you think this so I can appreciate the ‘abundance of good in the world’ too :D

  28. High abundance of good? Err… please tell me all the places you have been to make you think this so I can appreciate the ‘abundance of good in the world’ too :D

  29. Great site if I could take it all in I would be on my way to richs beyond my wildest dreams.

  30. Great site if I could take it all in I would be on my way to richs beyond my wildest dreams.

  31. It all depends if the comments is constructive criticism or just plain hostility. The former I love and especially as you say Chris if it’s from your target audience the it’s a chance to improve what you do.

    When a comment is pure ranting sarcasm or hostility I sometimes find it difficult not to respond with an equally biting comment…mostly for my own amusement but it’s not an ‘efficient use of resources’ and I try to avoid it. Be the bigger person as they say :)

  32. It all depends if the comments is constructive criticism or just plain hostility. The former I love and especially as you say Chris if it’s from your target audience the it’s a chance to improve what you do.

    When a comment is pure ranting sarcasm or hostility I sometimes find it difficult not to respond with an equally biting comment…mostly for my own amusement but it’s not an ‘efficient use of resources’ and I try to avoid it. Be the bigger person as they say :)

  33. Anonymity provides a protective screen for bullies who commonly struggle with raging superiority-inferiority complexes. The way Digg summarily locks people out of their system for what appear to be impulsive and arbitrary reasons, leaving little if any means to remediate the situation, implies that yes, the founders and operators encourage “bad behavior.” Makes them feel special, no doubt.

  34. Anonymity provides a protective screen for bullies who commonly struggle with raging superiority-inferiority complexes. The way Digg summarily locks people out of their system for what appear to be impulsive and arbitrary reasons, leaving little if any means to remediate the situation, implies that yes, the founders and operators encourage “bad behavior.” Makes them feel special, no doubt.

  35. Actually, speaking professionally, it is *not* good therapy for them. The best therapy for this kind of acting out is limits, predictable consequences, and lack of reinforcement for their behavior.

    The first two, though, are up to site administrators, as you point out.

    The rest of us can help by following the boring but useful advice: ignore the trolls.

  36. Actually, speaking professionally, it is *not* good therapy for them. The best therapy for this kind of acting out is limits, predictable consequences, and lack of reinforcement for their behavior.

    The first two, though, are up to site administrators, as you point out.

    The rest of us can help by following the boring but useful advice: ignore the trolls.

  37. I think it all comes down to the Digging and Burying comments system: it’s a lot harder to be funny about a relatively benign topic (blogging, freelancing, etc.) therefore the next recourse is an insult. Praise isn’t rewarded by those who evaluate individual comments, but insults are. I’m pretty sure when a comment does well it adds a little extra juice to the commenter’s profile.

    Remove the competition-style comments system and I suspect you’ll have less people commenting who don’t have legitimate criticisms of the work.

    My last point would be that I don’t think Rose has an interest in curbing this behavior, because it helps spread Digg by word of mouth. Just like the notorious Digg effect, and so on. It’s all about impact.

  38. I think it all comes down to the Digging and Burying comments system: it’s a lot harder to be funny about a relatively benign topic (blogging, freelancing, etc.) therefore the next recourse is an insult. Praise isn’t rewarded by those who evaluate individual comments, but insults are. I’m pretty sure when a comment does well it adds a little extra juice to the commenter’s profile.

    Remove the competition-style comments system and I suspect you’ll have less people commenting who don’t have legitimate criticisms of the work.

    My last point would be that I don’t think Rose has an interest in curbing this behavior, because it helps spread Digg by word of mouth. Just like the notorious Digg effect, and so on. It’s all about impact.

  39. Amen on the rhino skin! As a writer of any type you need to be able to learn to take criticism with grace and a grain of salt.

    Sometimes criticism is constructive, but the trolls at Digg are just suffering from severe cases of low self esteem. They are the bullies from the playground, the kid who sits behind you on the bus pulling your ponytails and the boss who picks at her employees because it makes her feel better about her own shortcomings.

    Also, if people are taking the time to write negative things then clearly your article is impacting. You might as well take it as a compliment since its the closest thing you’ll get to one from a Digg troll. =)

    Sara

  40. Amen on the rhino skin! As a writer of any type you need to be able to learn to take criticism with grace and a grain of salt.

    Sometimes criticism is constructive, but the trolls at Digg are just suffering from severe cases of low self esteem. They are the bullies from the playground, the kid who sits behind you on the bus pulling your ponytails and the boss who picks at her employees because it makes her feel better about her own shortcomings.

    Also, if people are taking the time to write negative things then clearly your article is impacting. You might as well take it as a compliment since its the closest thing you’ll get to one from a Digg troll. =)

    Sara

  41. Yeah tend to agree with most of the people hear that they are jelouse. I also think it is that a lot of younger people these days are just angry little people trying to make a name for themselves with a big chip on their shoulder thinking that the world owes them something.

    We all had an attitude problem and when they step into the real world, they will get a rude but timely shock :D

  42. Yeah tend to agree with most of the people hear that they are jelouse. I also think it is that a lot of younger people these days are just angry little people trying to make a name for themselves with a big chip on their shoulder thinking that the world owes them something.

    We all had an attitude problem and when they step into the real world, they will get a rude but timely shock :D

  43. I’m a “top” Digg submitter and I let the bad comments roll off me at this point. It hurts, sure, but you live and you learn.

    I actually wrote about this a few weeks ago. It’s not only about Digg. Negative comments in any social media site, including blogs, can be hurtful. But they can also help you become better or learn.

    On the plus side, the Internet has brought communities of like-minded individuals together. It also allowed for anonymous people to be scathing and insensitive. It’s unfortunate, but you shouldn’t let it get to you. Thick skin really helps.

  44. I’m a “top” Digg submitter and I let the bad comments roll off me at this point. It hurts, sure, but you live and you learn.

    I actually wrote about this a few weeks ago. It’s not only about Digg. Negative comments in any social media site, including blogs, can be hurtful. But they can also help you become better or learn.

    On the plus side, the Internet has brought communities of like-minded individuals together. It also allowed for anonymous people to be scathing and insensitive. It’s unfortunate, but you shouldn’t let it get to you. Thick skin really helps.

  45. @ashok – Excellent points. I hadn’t considered the sense of power that they have. You are right, few leaders of the digg community actually create anything and so they have a distorted idea of what that takes.

    @Gary – I am an optimist (or try to be) and am lucky to be surrounded by great people. I tend to avoid negative, energy leaches too :)

    @Rogue – I try :)

    @LAChick – Heh, I try to resist taking part, I worry what would happen if I really enjoyed sparring with them!

    @Mark – Something definitely is fueling it

    @SB – Yup, don’t feed the trolls and don’t let them get to you. Seems there is little benefit for anyone in their behavior :(

    @Skellie – The competitive atmosphere must help to boost the more hard core nasties, you are right

    @Sara – Heh, it is certainly one way to approach it :)

    @Jermayn – So many must have a real shock when they are confronted by real life

    @Tamar – It is a good thing there are positive influences like you on there, what would it be like if only the nasties hung out on Digg?

  46. @ashok – Excellent points. I hadn’t considered the sense of power that they have. You are right, few leaders of the digg community actually create anything and so they have a distorted idea of what that takes.

    @Gary – I am an optimist (or try to be) and am lucky to be surrounded by great people. I tend to avoid negative, energy leaches too :)

    @Rogue – I try :)

    @LAChick – Heh, I try to resist taking part, I worry what would happen if I really enjoyed sparring with them!

    @Mark – Something definitely is fueling it

    @SB – Yup, don’t feed the trolls and don’t let them get to you. Seems there is little benefit for anyone in their behavior :(

    @Skellie – The competitive atmosphere must help to boost the more hard core nasties, you are right

    @Sara – Heh, it is certainly one way to approach it :)

    @Jermayn – So many must have a real shock when they are confronted by real life

    @Tamar – It is a good thing there are positive influences like you on there, what would it be like if only the nasties hung out on Digg?

  47. Chris,
    I think I agree with every single point you’ve made in this post. I’m glad you wrote it, because it needs to be said. I find it ridiculous when I read the comments of a submission that is high quality and has tons of Diggs but all you see is negative comments. Does that really make people feel better about themselves? I guess I’m part of the problem too because I don’t leave enough positive comments on things I like. That would help a little bit to offset some of the negativity.

  48. Chris,
    I think I agree with every single point you’ve made in this post. I’m glad you wrote it, because it needs to be said. I find it ridiculous when I read the comments of a submission that is high quality and has tons of Diggs but all you see is negative comments. Does that really make people feel better about themselves? I guess I’m part of the problem too because I don’t leave enough positive comments on things I like. That would help a little bit to offset some of the negativity.

  49. Hey Chris, My granny told me that if one cannot say anything good about someone, one shouldn’t say anything at all. I guess many of the current Digg users did not have their grannies tell them that :)

  50. Hey Chris, My granny told me that if one cannot say anything good about someone, one shouldn’t say anything at all. I guess many of the current Digg users did not have their grannies tell them that :)

  51. The Internet is harsh. One reason is that people know that you can’t really find them and kick their ass, so they go around pretending to be tough guys.

    I have been kicked off of every forum I ever went on, no kidding! Many people do not want intelligent conversation and healthy debate, they just want to attack you with limited thought processes and juvenile language. The Internet is sad pathetic place for the most part. And the big corporations are locking it all up so anyone wanting to make money has to play their game. Too bad, really… This thing had so much potential.

  52. The Internet is harsh. One reason is that people know that you can’t really find them and kick their ass, so they go around pretending to be tough guys.

    I have been kicked off of every forum I ever went on, no kidding! Many people do not want intelligent conversation and healthy debate, they just want to attack you with limited thought processes and juvenile language. The Internet is sad pathetic place for the most part. And the big corporations are locking it all up so anyone wanting to make money has to play their game. Too bad, really… This thing had so much potential.