Digg This! 55,500 hits in ~4 Days

In Uncategorized on July 2, 2006 at 5:22 am


(this post was last updated at 10:30am EST, July 3, ‘06, GMT +5)

This post is a follow up to the previous post For Great Justice, Take Off Every Digg

According to Alexa.com, the total penetration of the Wikipedia 3.0 article was ~2 million readers (who must have read it on other websites that copied the article)


EDIT: I looked at the graph and did the math again, and as far as I can tell it’s “55,500 in ~4 days” not “55,000 in 5 days.” So that’s 13,875 page views per each day.

Stats (approx.) for the “Wikipedia 3.0: The End of Google?” and “For Great Justice, Take Off Every Digg articles:

These are to the best of my memory from each of the first ~4 days as verified by the graph.

33,000 page views in day 1 (the first wave)

* day 1 is almost one and a half columns on the graph not one because I posted it at ~5:00am and the day (in WordPress time zone) ends at 8pm, so the first column is only ~ 15 hours.

9,500 page views in day 2

5,000 page views in day 3

8,000 page views in day 4 (the second wave)

Total: 55,500 in ~4 days which is 13,875 page views per day (not server hits) for ~4 days. Now on the 7th day the traffic is expected to be ~1000 page views, unless I get another small spike. That’s a pretty good double-dipping long tail. If you’ve done better with digg let me know how you did it! :)


This post is a follow-up to my previous article on digg, where I explained how I had experimented and succeeded in generating 45,000 visits to an article I wrote in the first 3 days of its release (40,000 of which came directly from digg.)

I had posted an article on digg about a bold but well-thought out vision of the future, involving Google and Wikipedia, with the sensational title of “Wikipedia 3.0: The End of Google?” (which may turn out after all to be a realistic proposition.)

Since my previous article on digg I’ve found out that digg did not ban my IP address. They had deleted my account due to multiple submissions. So I was able to get back with a new user account and try another the experiment: I submitted “AI Matrix vs Google” and “Web 3.0 vs Google” as two separate links for one article (which has since been given the final title of “Web 3.0: Basic Concepts


Neither ‘sensational’ title worked.


I tried to rationalize what happened …

I figured that the crowd wanted a showdown between two major cults (e.g the Google fans and the Wikipedia fans) and not between Google and some hypothetical entity (e.g. AI Matrix or Web 3.0).

But then I thought about how Valleywag was able to cleverly piggyback on my “Wikipedia 3.0: The End of Google?” article (which had generated all the hype) with an article having the dual title of “Five Reasons Google Will Invent Real AI” on digg and “Five Reasons No One Will Replace Google” on Valleywag.

They used AI in the title and I did the same in the new experiment, so we should both get lots of diggs. They got about 1300 diggs. I got about 3. Why didn’t it work in my case?

The answer is that the crowd is not a logical animal. It’s a psychological animal. It does not make mental connections as we do as individuals (because a crowd is a randomized population that is made up of different people at different times) so it can’t react logically.

Analyzing it from the psychological frame, I concluded that it must have been the Wikipedia fans who “dugg” my original article. The Google fans did “digg” it but not in the same large percentage as the Wikipedia fans.

Valleywag gave the Google fans the relief they needed after my article with its own article in defense of Google. However, when I went at it again with “Matrix AI vs Google” and “Web 3.0 vs Google” the error I made was in not knowing that the part of the crowd that “dugg” my original article were the Wikipedia fans not the Goolge haters. In fact, Google haters are not very well represented on digg. In other words, I found out that “XYZ vs Google” will not work on digg unless XYZ has a large base of fans on digg.

Escape Velocity

The critical threshold in the digg traffic generation process is to get enough diggs quickly enough, after submitting the post, to get the post on digg’s popular page. Once the post is on digg’s popular page both sides (those who like what your post is about and those who will hate you and want to kill you for writing it) will affected by the psychlogical manipulation you design (aka the ‘wave.’) However, the majority of those who will “digg” it will be from the group that likes it. A lesser number of people will “digg” it from the group that hates it.

Double Dipping

I did have a strong second wave when I went out and explained how ridiculous the whole digg process is.

This is how the second wave was created:

I got lots of “diggs” from Wikipedia fans and traffic from both Google and Wikipedia fans for the original article.

Then I wrote a follow up on why “digg sucks” but only got 100 “diggs” for it (because all the digg fans on digg kept ‘burying’ it!) so I did not get much traffic to it from digg fans or digg haters (not that many of the latter on digg.)

The biggest traffic to it came from the bloggers and others who came to see what the all fuss was about as far as the original article. I had linked to the follow up article (on why I thought digg sucked) from the original article (i.e. like chaining magnets) so when people came to see what the fuss was all about with respect to the original article they were also told to check out the “digg sucks” article for context.

That worked! The original and second waves, which both had a long tail (see below) generated a total of 55,500 hits in ~4 days. That’s 13,875 page views a day for the first ~4 days.

Long Tail vs Sting

I know that some very observant bloggers have said that digg can only produce a sharp, short lived pulse of traffic (or a sting), as opposed to a long tail or a double-dipping long tail, as in my case, but those observations are for posts that are not themselves memes. When you have a meme you get the long tail (or an exponential decay) and when you chain memes as I did (which I guess I could have done faster as the second wave would have been much bigger) then you get a double-dipping long tail as I’m having now.

Today (which is 7 days after the original experiment) the traffic is over 800 hits so far, still on the strength of the original wave and the second wave (note that the flat like I had before the spike represents levels of traffic between ~100 to ~800, so don’t be fooled by the flatness, it’s relative to the scale of the graph.)

In other words, traffic is still going strong from the strength of the long-tail waves generated from the original post and the follow up one.



  1. Wikipedia 3.0: The End of Google?
  2. For Great Justice, Take Off Every Digg
  3. Unwisdom of Crowds
  4. Self-Aware e-Society

Semantic Web, Web strandards, Trends, wisdom of crowds, tagging, Startup, mass psychology, Google, cult psychology, inference, inference engine, AI, ontology, Semanticweb, Web 2.0, Web 2.0, Web 3.0, Web 3.0, Google Base, artificial intelligence, AI, Wikipedia, Wikipedia 3.0, collective consciousness, digg, censorship

  1. Update this in two weeks, after a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and a holiday in the middle of the week in the United States which means a lot of people are on vacation, and another weekend, and see what happens with traffic trends, including Digg related traffic. And check out my unscientific reseach on when the best time and day to post is on your blog, and compare what you find over the course of time, not just a couple days. I’m curious how days of the week and the informal research I did might reflect within your information. That will REALLY help us see the reality of your success.

    Still, you’ve gathered a ton of fabulous information. I found it interesting that the post title on your Digg sucks article kept changing every hour or so on the WordPress.com top lists. I think it was “Power of the Schwartz” that really caught my eye. ;-)

    I wish you could check out how much traffic came from WordPress.com dashboards and top blog listing comparatively to Digg traffic results, as well as all the other social bookmarking sources which pick up Digg posts, and compare that information as to how directly your traffic was related solely to Digg. It was in the first place, but “then” what happened.

    There is a lot of whack things that go into driving traffic, and I also know that WordPress.com’s built in traffic charts don’t match up exactly and consistently with some of the external traffic reports I’ve checked for my WordPress.com blog, so only time will tell, and this will get more and more interesting as time goes on.

    Good work!

  2. Yeah I caught myself saying “Merchandising Merchandising Merchandising” the other day!


    Well I noticed about 1000, 800, 600, 500 hits (in this order) from WordPress for those 4 days …

    Valleywag sent me about 12,000 (in total)


  3. Great analysis on digg. It looks like digg or the memes can be somewhat influenced and analyzed. It’s almost like psycho analyzing a strange new brain.

    I find it very interesting how this all happened. Even if digg gave you a short pulse for a few days, it generated augmented daily traffic until now. I wouldn’t be surprised that new readers discovered you this way. The whole applications of traffic and readers are very fluid in nature. I wonder if they could be mapped in some way of form through fluid dynamics.


  4. It’s highly multi-disciplinary. It can be conquered but not as fast as you or I would like.

    This is like analyzing a strange new brain … a brain that is influenced greatly by everything except logic.

    I plan on analyzing it in the open for a long time to come, so stick around and add your thoughts to it. :)
    They say ‘observing something changes its outcome’ .. So we’ll see how it goes.



  5. […] 1. Digg This! 55,500 Hits in ~4 Days […]

  6. […] This article has a follow-up part: Digg This! 55,500 Hits in ~4 Days […]

  7. Marc,

    I don’t know if this information helps or skews your research, but a post I wrote in January, titled to get Digg and other traffic attention, Horse Sex and What is Dictating Your Blog’s Content, did not do well at all. That is until the past three days.

    It’s really started piling up a lot of hits, sitting in the top 10 of my top posts, outreaching the other posts that get consistently high traffic by a huge margin. Until Saturday, that post was not even in the top 50 or 75. I can’t tell where the traffic is suddenly coming from, as WordPress.com doesn’t offer that kind of specific information, and I’m not getting any outstanding traffic from any single source. Nothing from Digg, but something is suddenly driving that post through the roof. Even during a holiday week in the US! Very strange.

    Maybe there’s a new fad in horse sex lately – who knows? ;-)

    Still, the point is that this was written in January, and now it is getting attention in July. I’ll be checking to find out what is causing the sudden flush of traffic, but never doubt that your posts are ageless in many respects. So the long term study of Digg patterns and traffic will help all of us over the “long haul”. That’s why I’m really curious about the long term effects of your posts.

    Sometimes you just can’t predict the crowds. ;-) Or what they will suddenly be interested in. I’ve written so many posts and titles that I was sure would skyrocket traffic, only to lay there like empty beer bottles in the playground. Totally useless. And others with sloppy titles and written quickly with little attention to detail skyrocketing like 1000 bottles of coke filled with Mentos. ;-) It’s an interesting process, isn’t it?

  8. Predicting the weather for the long term is not currently feasible. However, predicting the weather for the short term is (1-2 days in davance.)

    But it’s not all about ‘predicting’ … It’s about studying the phenomenon so that we can make better choices to reduce the effect of uncertainty and not try to eliminate uncertainty.


  9. I think then that the obvious question is why you’ve done nothing to monetize those hits, however fickle they might be!


  10. Monetize, Monetize, Monetize!

    Fortunately, that won’t happen :)


  11. […] 4 – Digg This! 55,500 hits in ~4 Days A blogger explains how he ‘milked’ Digg for a major spike in traffic. Meme engineering in action; fascinating stuff. (tags: Wikipedia Google visits article post tail long spike scam traffic blogging blog meme Digg) […]

  12. Since web traffic is dictated by humans and engines and not by some exterior force like the weather, I think that there are a lot of possible venues of analysis of it. The only thing is that the flow and traffic needs to be documented. In most cases, the traffic might be, but there lacks information on past flow. The internet is concentrated on the now and less with what happened ten days ago on this site and such.

    Mathematical Fluid dynamics are probably the way to go, though even if I am a mathematician, I’d have to research it a bit before pronouncing myself completely. These types of analysis can get quite complicated because of the implications of partial differential equations of an order higher than 2, which can not be solved only approximated numerically.

    I’m sure I’m not the only one to say this, but I like the types of discussions and content that you put forward, it gets the mind thinking on certain subjects that most of the time users tend to accept without question.

  13. “the implications of partial differential equations of an order higher than 2, which can not be solved only approximated numerically.”

    Have you looked into Meyer’s methods of “invariant embedding” …? to convert PDEs to a set of ordinary differential equations then solve?

    What I’m looking to do is to simply gain a sufficient minimum in insight to allow me to improve my chances at generating and surfing hype waves… I believe I will end up applying a non-formal theory such as framing theory to transform the problem from the computational domain to the cognitive domain (so I may use that 90% of the brain that we supposedly don’t use to carry out the computation with my own internal computational model.)


  14. Hey Marc!

    I now know what it feels like to be caught in a digg like wave. Right now, I have had over 141000 page views because of a post that I did this morning, explaining HDR photography.

    Since digg banned my url for some reason (I don’t know why, I haven’t posted anything to digg in the last 2 months), this was all done through del.icio.us, Reddit and Popurls. It’s like one thing leads to another. I have added an url giving a surface analysis of this situation.


    Naturally, I find myself compelled to continue writing on the subject. I have already posted a follow-up article and I am working on another one right now. I knew I had a spike on weekends, nothing like this however.

  15. Hey Marc.

    I think the main reason why I didn’t get any higher was because of the stat problem that WP has been having over the last few days.

    I hope they save this traffic so that I have some nice graphs to show you. They probably do. It felt like the counter was accurate, I checked out that I did indeed make onto a few memediggers, still am right now.

    And also the stat page was just so slow to catch up with the amount of traffic that was generated. WP couldn’t keep up.

    Hopefully, they will sort it out over the next few days. I think it was most surprising in the afternoon. I kept refreshing the counter, and oups, a few thousand here, ten thousand there. I was really surprised. And I have also started getting some haters, as you must know, with the good comes the bad.

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