Thursday, May 03, 2007

Digg Meltdown

I've never seen a rebellion quite as virulent as this one.

I captured a screenshot of the front page of on May 1st. It's incredible. Look at the number of diggs some of the stories have!
For those who don't know, this whole kerfluffle started when a couple of diggers submitted stories about the newly discovered AACS code that controls access to HD-DVDs and suddenly found their accounts banned.

Of course, no self-respecting digger is an island. When people found out that they had been banned, they called their friends, who then posted stories about people getting banned for posting the story. Of course, this led those people to get banned from Digg as well. People on Digg noticed that stories were disappearing and were - with some justification - peeved. As the evening went on, more and more people started digging stories about the AACS, about the 'magic' number, and about Digg's banning of accounts, calling Mr. Rose, one of the creators of Digg, a coward and worse. By 9:50pm on May 1st, the entire front page of Digg was covered in stories.

Kevin Rose eventually gave up trying to contain the riot and put up a post on his own blog that was both brave and somewhat sad at the same time. Here's the post, quoted in full:
Today was an insane day. And as the founder of Digg, I just wanted to post my
In building and shaping the site I’ve always tried to stay as
on as possible. We’ve always given site moderation (digging/burying)
power to
the community. Occasionally we step in to remove stories that
violate our terms
of use (eg. linking to pornography, illegal downloads,
racial hate sites, etc.).
So today was a difficult day for us. We had to
decide whether to remove stories
containing a single code based on a cease
and desist declaration. We had to make
a call, and in our desire to avoid a
scenario where Digg would be interrupted or
shut down, we decided to comply
and remove the stories with the code.
now, after seeing hundreds of
stories and reading thousands of comments, you’ve
made it clear. You’d
rather see Digg go down fighting than bow down to a bigger
company. We hear
you, and effective immediately we won’t delete stories or
containing the code and will deal with whatever the consequences might
If we lose, then what the hell, at least we died trying.
I have to congratulate Kevin on his bravery. At the same time, I fear that Digg may be going down, the DMCA is a scary document and it changes the way we treat intellectual property. Specifically, it criminalizes people who try and make full use of their fair use rights by disallowing the breaking of cryptography.

That's a sad state of affairs and it needs to change, because it's not the denizens of Digg who caused this upheaval, it's not even the AACS's fault, the blame for Digg's meltdown lands squarely on the shoulders of our congresspeople who voted the DMCA into law.



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