Digg vs. Reddit vs. Me

The title of this post is a joke, but one you’re only likely to get if you actually use one of these services: in the attention economy of link-sharing, titles that pit one thing against another tend to rise higher. (Maybe this validates the old Wired Magazine guideline of “no conflict, no story” – or maybe it proves the easiest way to get attention is to antagonize.)

Over the past few months I’ve played with both Digg and Reddit as ways to discover new and interesting stuff, and wanted to post some notes for the hypothetical reader who is even farther behind this particular curve than I am.

I got interested in Digg and Reddit after my belated adoption of Delicious, which I continue to use for logging interesting finds. Delicious has a view called “popular” which shows items which are, you know, popular, but it lacks one thing – comments – that both Digg and Reddit provide. (Delicious submissions do have a “notes” field, but it’s for annotation, not discussion.)

A few observations about the differences:

  • Digg uses a linear conversation model, while Reddit is threaded by default. Coming from the Well I generally prefer the former. In particular, Reddit’s discussions are especially broken because you can’t know which of the six view combinations (hot/new/top and flat/nested) anyone else will be using.

  • Reddit is smaller. This is on balance a good thing, assuming that it’s big enough to have a critical mass of interesting-link-finders (which I’d say it does).

  • Reddit has a “recommended” view that attempts to show you links that are similar to others you have liked. I’m dubious about the long-term fate of this feature because I think it goes against the social aspect of the service. It’s more gratifying to feel like you’re part of a community which likes a lot of the same things (while of course disagreeing on others) than it is to be served by code whose highest goal is to pander to your expressed preferences.

  • Digg looks better.

  • Digg works better on my Palm (using Blazer, I can’t log into Reddit at all).

  • Reddit, originally written in Lisp, features a lot of content related to functional programming and relatively esoteric languages. For me, this is great. I imagine it would get a little old if you were a Java diehard.

Some generalizations, which I could preface with a disclaimer but won’t:

  • Digg seems to be a bit spammier, though partly I think this is due to greater volume.

  • Reddit users are more active in rating individual comments.

  • Digg users feel younger.

  • Reddit users are generally more careful writers.

For me, Reddit is a much better fit. Perhaps that means I’m old, or have a secret desire to be a Lisp programmer.

Normally at the end of a post like this I’d inconclusively ponder what the future holds, but here that’s somewhat moot. The central activity of both these sites is ephemeral. What works right now is good enough.

Alexis commented on Mon Feb 6 14:13:35 2006:

Consider your “conflict theory of headlines” validated (your headline certainly got my attention).

You bring up some very good points about where we could improve, but I’m happy to see that overall, you’re enjoying reddit. Who knows, there could be a Lisper lurking inside of you…

Paul commented on Mon Feb 6 14:25:42 2006:

No doubt there is! I just hope it doesn’t come out a la Aliens

Andrew commented on Mon Feb 13 08:28:51 2006:

Personally, I agree with you. But, I don’t feel old as a result of liking reddit over digg. I feel more mature because I’m not reading something some 12 year old submitted because it says some foul word 40 times. Also, with reddit, you tend to not have the really “trendy” stuff. It’s normally pretty good content, however I could be wrong. It could be the simple interface that keeps me coming back.

gareth commented on Thu Feb 16 11:52:24 2006:

Delicious has a view called >“popular” which shows items which >are, you know, popular, >but it lacks one thing — >comments — that both Digg and >Reddit provide.

this is delicious greatest feature, its lack of centralised community means content is filtered organically allowing for critical independent thought and a diversity of opinion, digg in particular tends to suffer from ‘group think’