Monday night's Digg Town Hall, the second in the social news site's live Webcast series hosted by CEO Jay Adelson and founder Kevin Rose, didn't answer any of the really big questions. No acquisitions, no Series C funding, no dirt about Rose's dating life.
But something it did reveal: There's a storm afoot at Digg, and it could very well shape the site's future.
When Kevin Rose founded Digg, the site caught on as a hub for quirky geek news, and it's retained a reputation as being full of extremely opinionated tech enthusiasts. But with the 2008 presidential election on the way, Digg has caught on among another very vocal set of news junkies: the political crowd. It's helped boost the site's numbers for sure: Digg now boasts 230 million page views per month, 26 million unique visitors, and 15,000 stories submitted per day.
On one hand, Digg's geeky early adopters ought to welcome the red-and-blue hordes because they're helping to bring the site to a new level. But the questions in Monday night's Webcast, which were selected by users "digging" and "burying" the questions, revealed that the politicization of Digg hasn't been altogether popular.
The first question asked complained about the dilution of Digg's trademark tech news by partisan politics, with the submitter declaring, "I've had enough Huffington Post stories for a lifetime" in reference to the popular liberal news aggregation site. Another question wondered whether Adelson, Rose, & company might make it so that users could customize it so that they see only the extremely popular stories in categories they don't prefer. A Digger who's not a fan of political news, for example, could limit politics stories to stuff on the caliber of a winner for the Democratic presidential nomination.
That wasn't all. Still another participant asked whether the management could institute a feature to block stories that contain certain words, another complained about "special interest groups" and "rude, agenda-driven people," and yet another said that "useful information is pushed aside for whatever the mob wants."
What it shows is that, politics or no politics, Digg is getting big, and its tight-knit, active community isn't sure that it's a good thing. Adelson and Rose kept hinting at more customization features on the way. Soon you'll be able to get suggested stories, they said, and Rose said that the suggestion about letting members block stories in an unwanted category unless they rake in a minimum number of Diggs was "an awesome idea." Fixes are in the works, they kept reiterating.
But that's what Adelson and Rose were saying in the last town hall event, too, and that presidential election isn't going away any time soon.