Netscape Could Beat Digg By Focusing on Average People
7 min read

Netscape Could Beat Digg By Focusing on Average People

It has been well documented that Netscape users don’t like the new Digg-like Netscape. Jason Calacanis’ solution — hire away Digg’s power users, who drive 90% of Digg’s value. But even if these power users are for sale (an interesting question), it still wouldn’t help Netscape woo back its original user base of average people.

To understand why, it’s helpful to look at the top headlines in Digg’s new World & Business category:

Why the Left Is Furious at Lieberman
Some time after having lunch in Iraq with the junior senator from Connecticut, Time magazine Baghdad bureau chief Michael Ware told an interviewer, “Either Sen. Lieberman is so divorced from reality that he’s completely lost the plot, or he knows he’s spinning a line.”
Bush May End His NAACP Boycott
President Bush is apparently ready to end his boycott of the NAACP, the oldest civil rights organization in the United States, with a possible speech Thursday.
City vehicle caught on camera at strip club
“When we dish over our hard earned money for local taxes, we expect the city to use the money wisely. Sometimes that means out of town trips and conferences. But what about driving a city vehicle to a strip club?”
Senate passes Stem Cell Bill, but not by enough for Veto override
“The bill passed 63-37, four votes short of the two-thirds majority that would be needed to override Bush’s veto. The president left little doubt he would reject the bill despite late appeals on its behalf from fellow Republicans Nancy Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger.”
Seattle SuperSonics sold, moving to Oklahoma City?
Starbucks Coffee Chairman and Sonics Majority Owner Howard Schultz has apparently sold the NBA’s Seattle Supersonics to a group from Oklahoma City adding fuel to the fire that the team will move there. The New Orleans Hornets played many of its games in Oklahoma City this past year due to damage from Hurricane Katrina.
Why Bush should swear more.
“According to some, the single dirty word is more proof that Bush is a dumb cowboy, but Bush’s unguarded remarks actually make the opposite case. They show that he understands the awkward steps of diplomacy and that, while he may be frustrated, he’s remarkably cool and multilateral for the supposed simple fellow from Midland.”
Israel claims Iran link to crisis
Hezbollah’s capture of two Israeli soldiers last week was timed to divert attention from Tehran’s nuclear programme, the Israeli PM has claimed.
‘I went on crime spree to avoid Iraq’
A member of the Wyoming Army National Guard who was arrested in early June after a highway chase near Hardin told investigators he went on a five-day crime spree in Montana and Wyoming to avoid deployment to Iraq.
United States to Israel: you have one more week to blast Hizbullah
“The US is giving Israel a window of a week to inflict maximum damage on Hizbullah before weighing in behind international calls for a ceasefire in Lebanon, according to British, European and Israeli sources.”
World jump day is tomorrow, don’t forget to jump for our planet.
I’m sure you have already hard about this action that could change the earth orbit for good… Well, it’s tomorrow (20 July 2006) at 11:39:13 GMT, so, let’s jump !
Hezbollah’s Dangerous Ball Bearings
Human Rights Watch: Some of the Kutyusha rockets fired into Haifa Sunday and Monday contained hundreds of metal ball bearings that are of limited use against military targets but “cause great harm to civilians and civilian property. The ball bearings lodge in the body and cause serious harm.” It does not bode well for a quick resolution.
Oops, Mom Googled Me
My last e-mail from her was something like this: “I googled you and found ‘How to Survive the Holidays With Your Republican Parents.’ Why didn’t you share that one?” Why indeed?
Interview Tips From An Experienced Recruiter
Although your technical abilities are most important, interviewers don ’t only consider your qualifications and on job experience. See the “In the Interview” section near the bottom for some tips to help you stay sharp.
I Installed Steve Jobs’ Trampoline
An intrepid trampoline installer tells the tale of installing a trampoline for Steve Jobs’ daughter. He even took a few test jumps! (This is a couple of years old but doesn’t look like it’s hit digg before and this is the first I’ve heard of it)
With Google Earth, defense analysts spot North Korea missile sites
“Colin, an intern here, was poking around North Korea on Google Earth and discovered that defense analysts — active duty and retired — are identifying missile installations and sub bases flagged by civilians. From a retired Army satellite analyst…”

For comparison, here are Netscape’s top stories from its “News” category:

Iran’s Hezbollah ready to attack US interests
“We are only waiting for the Supreme Leader’s green light to take action. If America wants to ignite World War Three … we welcome…
Images from Lebanon
Browse galleries of captioned photos from the ground in Lebanon. Warning: some of these images are graphic…
In Testimony, Gonzales Says Bush Blocked Inquiry
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Tuesday that President Bush personally blocked Justice Department lawyers from pursuing an internal…
Thanking Jesus in Court Lands Man in Jail
Junior Stowers raised his hands and exclaimed, “Thank you, Jesus!” in court last month when he was acquitted by a jury of abusing his…
US charging Americans for evacuation from Beirut?
TIME’s Andrew Sullivan has posted an email from a reader trying to get out of Lebanon. “Most other governments evacuating people here…
U.S. Temperature Set at ‘BROIL’
No relief in site.…
Are You Ready for Your North American Union ID Card?
Now it can be revealed that plans for the North American Union include a tri-national “North American Union� ID card.…
Java tsunami death toll increases
At least 300 are reported dead, 140 missing, 450 injured and an estimated 52,700 displaced on Indonesia’s island of Java. Early warning…
Blair, Annan Call for Troops in Israel
British Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called Monday for the deployment of international forces to…
6000 Civilians Killed In Iraq In Just The Last Two Months
Bringing the total for the year to around 14,000…
Will Germany Declare War On Iran?
With the “Hitler-like” rhetoric coming from Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his denial of the Jewish holocaust seems to have… (1 day and 3 hours ago)
Skyguard High-Energy Laser System
Northrop Grumman Corporation formally proposed a ground-based, high-energy laser system, Skyguard, as part of a layered airport defense…
Space Shuttle to Land At 9:14 AM this Morning
All Clear for landing is given…
Anderson Cooper blogging from Haifa
“I’ve never blogged before, so forgive me if this rambles. But as we rushed off to feed tape and throw the rest of our gear in the…

If Digg or Netscape has any hope of truly rivaling the New York Times or other “traditional” daily news outlets, they need to help AVERAGE PEOPLE find out what’s going on in the world that is important for them to know about.

Of course, the definition of what’s “important” to know is exactly what’s at issue here. New York Times editors have one view. Digg power users have another view.

But let’s get real. What’s more important? What the U.S. is doing about the Israeli/Hezbollah conflict or Steve Job’s trampoline? (No doubt somebody will trot out a tired old relativist argument.)

It’s very notable that Digg’s front page for World & Business gets it half right, touching on most of the important stories of the day, in few cases with interesting angles, such as the soldier who went on a crime spree to avoid Iraq deployment, which shows just how acute that situation is.

Maybe it will turn out that people like (or need) a little trampoline news with their Israel/Hezbollah news. I think the problem with Digg headlines is their sense of randomness and capriciousness. You can disagree with New York Times’ editorial judgment, but at least it’s fairly consistent.

If Netscape really wants to beat Digg, it should leverage the advantage it already appears to have — by comparison, Netscape isn’t littered with as many “weird” stories. It’s already acting more like a news site that the average person could more easily transition to.

Of course, the real silliness of this is that Diggs power users are acting like traditional editors — it’s really not a “community” deciding what’s news. It’s just different editorial judgment — and that difference in judgment and its appeal to average people is worth discussing.

But let’s stop pretending this is about a “social media” revolution.


Interestingly, and somewhat ironically, this post has been Dugg (Digged?) — hello, Digg users.

Based on my traffic stats, nobody should question that Digg is indeed a force of nature, not to be taken lightly.

The comments on the Digg post are very interesting and worth reading.

Many display the childish ethos of some Digg users:

This asshat has been taking swipes at Digg for some time. Karp’s diatribe is nothing but weak & transparent envy.

Other negative comments are quite insightful and useful:

The “weird” stories that Digg features may not have a thing to do with the state of the world, but they’re interesting. If I just wanted world/breaking news, then I would have no reason to visit Digg. Reuters, AP, etc. cover that stuff. The “average” people already are bombarded by news outlets. I’m actually beginning to see Digg as a kind of refuge where I can hunker down and get my tech news, interesting tidbits, and maybe some key reports on the state of the world.

There are even a few “contrarians” in the mix:

Is any criticism of Digg ever, ever warranted? I ask seriously, because you guys get very angry and quickly bury negative comments that are actually about Digg. Will geek groupthink sink Digg?

For example, here are some real criticisms that aren’t hateful, aren’t FUD, and are constructive, I think:
1.) We don’t need a front page story every time Eric Schmidt goes to the bathroom.
2.) Ditto with Steve Jobs
3.) Reading Digg, one would assume that Apple has 85% market share in PCs and that the iPod was the only entertainment option available to humankind. (I own a Mac AND an iPod, and I LOVE them)
4.) The Google thing again. I don’t get the adulation. Seriously.

These two comments are particularly telling:

i’ll always be a digg fan, this is the only site i can on and read news for hours and hours and not be wondering why i’m reading instead of playing video games

Good, I don’t want Netscape’s users using Digg. Keep the n00bs off this site!

All and all, it’s a microcosm of Digg at its best and worst.