What it’s Like Being On Digg’s Front Page

I wrote an article about how Linux’s lack of complete support for most hardware is a bigger problem now than its total lack of support for a relatively smaller amount of hardware. This article really felt like Digg material when I wrote it. I was saying something that had not really been said in the past, and I spent a lot of time writing it. I decided to go against the stigma of Digging your own content, and I put it up there. I would not be writing this article if I didn’t make the front page. Let me share with you what I have learned from this experience.

I’ve learned that in order to get Dugg up, the headline is everything. Because it is my article, I actually bothered to read comments about it on multiple sites. The vast majority of people did not read the article. That may be because it was a wall of text, but I doubt it. People might read your headline, click your link, and skim your article, but that’s it. All you need to do to get a few thousand hits from a site like Digg is the headline.

Some people, including myself, attach some stigma to the idea of submitting content you have created to sites like Digg. I have abandoned this stigma. Even if you submit your own thing, the most that gives it is one vote. As of me typing this, my story has 1161 Diggs. No one has any motive for increasing exposure to my blog, with no advertisements on it, other than myself. Apparently 1160 people think my blog post is worth clicking. I do not feel bad for Digging it once. This is a stigma that should go away.

The most important thing I’ve learned is that sites being unable to handle large amounts of traffic are just poorly administered. Sure, my blog completely lacks graphics, and that helps. However, it also runs WordPress, which is infamous for not being able to withstand heavy traffic. Because I have the server properly configured, it was able to perform perfectly under heavy load. I don’t even do any weird caching or anything. It’s just a basic LAMP setup. I think what helps is that we pay $80 a month for hosting from Linode. Most people have these shared hosts for five bucks a month. Listen people, that isn’t going to work if you actually get significant traffic. You get what you pay for.

Also interesting was that I got a significant amount of non-Digg traffic. It should have been obvious, but I didn’t expect it. If thousands of people see and like my story on Digg, obviously they are going to link to it from other sites such as Reddit, but also on relevant news sites. Quite a few Linux or technology news sites around the world picked up the story, or it showed up in their news feed sidebars. Digg might be able to provide the initial exposure for your link, but the link will quickly fall off to the second page. Meanwhile, other sites that pick up your link will have you on the front page for quite awhile longer.

All in all, I think this was a valuable learning experience. I’ll probably be Digging a lot more of the content I create, especially if I have a feeling it is going to be popular. It helps a lot that my fears of having our server cave in have been eliminated.

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