Digg Rebellion Highlights How The Community Is In Control

from the don't-mess-with-an-angry-mob dept

While the press has jumped all over the story of Digg users rebelling against Digg management concerning the AACS HD-DVD encryption key takedown notices, one of the more interesting points in all of this was ignored by the press, but picked up by more perceptive folks like Ed Felten and Michael Arrington: that the Digg community is clearly in control over what happens on the site. In the past few months, some in the press and folks such as Nick Carr have been hyping up the idea that sites like Digg somehow exploit their users by getting them to take part in the community without getting paid. This seemed silly, because if the users weren't getting value out of the community, there was nothing holding them there. However, what yesterday's revolt showed was quite the opposite. What the Digg community showed yesterday was that it is absolutely in control over the site. This can be risky, as in any case where a worked up crowd can quickly go vigilante and become judge, jury and executioner in the blink of an eye. However, it should (hopefully) end any talk claiming that Digg or these other sites are using its community. It's becoming clear that it may be the other way around.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    dustin, May 2nd, 2007 @ 11:22pm

    digg community

    I logged in last night to digg to see every story had something to do with that blasted key. The irony is most of digg doesn't know what to do with the key. Nor do they have any reason to copy an HD-DVD. They just know they're sticking it to the man.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 2nd, 2007 @ 11:31pm

    The digg community is revolting

    ...and they're pretty upset about something too.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 2nd, 2007 @ 11:51pm

    Before anyone posts the damn number again, DON'T! Its now officially considered spam.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2007 @ 12:08am

    "if the users weren't getting value out of the community, there was nothing holding them there"

    I'd love to apply that argument to the exploitation of the weak by the strong. You know, like corporations exploiting illegal immigrant labor, capitalism exploiting third world cultures in the name of globalization, the US exploiting Iraq for oil....

    No one mentioned the only people the event had any impact on were Digg users. If it wasn't for the other press, no one else would have ever known - or cared - about it.

     

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  5.  
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    ReallyEvilCanine, May 3rd, 2007 @ 12:29am

    Responsibility

    Dustin's right about users thinking they're somehow "sticking it to the man" as far as the key, but they also showed the same attitude towards Digg itself with the flooding of that damned key.

    Kevin didn't want to play Whack-a-Mole but was forced to when he received the C&D. Whether or not people agree with the law, the site has to obey it. This didn't sit well with the mob who, unsurprisingly, have neither financial interest nor culpability. How many of them would've been willing to join that "I'm Spartacus" routine if they knew they personally could face lawsuits?

    It's easy to put something at risk when you're not personally liable for the consequences.

     

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  6.  
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    Paul, May 3rd, 2007 @ 1:10am

    Re: Responsibility

    I agree mostly, but I'd take a slightly different take on this.

    The whole point of Digg is that it's a social network where people discuss news. There's no value to the site, or any other similar site without the users, and the attempt to suppress this key was definitely news they wished to discuss. Most people probably considered his simple free speech and only got out of hand when said free speech began to be censored.

    This case illustrates 2 points. First, that the DMCA is heavy-handed and unworkable in a connected world if a majority wish to disobey it - even if Digg was to collapse due to this, there are hundreds of similar sites around now or just round the corner. Second, that security through obscurity is also unworkable in that world - thanks to the attempt to suppress the key, even though most people don't know what to do with it, everyone is now both aware of the key and has some way of getting a copy of it if necessary.

    Also, how many would have been willing to post if lawsuits were threatened? Look at the RIAA lawsuits, note how downloading has risen during the time they've been going on, and consider that the same people uploading files illegally are probably also Digg's audience. I'd say a lawsuit threat wouldn't have changed a thing.

     

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  7.  
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    ReallyEvilCanine, May 3rd, 2007 @ 2:12am

    Re: Re: Responsibility

    We agree on both points: the DMCA is heavy-handed and security through obscurity is unworkable. My point is that although the users wished to "discuss" this (where "discuss" = "spread the key as far and as fast as possible whether or not they knew what the hell to do with it themselves"), they did so in a manner whereby they could suffer no consequences.

    I'm quite the supporter of both free and anonymous speech, but whereas the posters were anonymous, the site on which they posted isn't. It's subject to legal repercussions from the actions of its users. The users could have just as easily "discussed" the key on USENET where anonymous speech is so free that not even Scientology could stop it.

    As far as the RIAA lawsuits, downloaders are by and large anonymous. When it comes to the possibility of a lawsuit think much like pilots: "Big sky, little plane". The chances are extremely small that they'll be found and hit. How many of them do you think would be willing to publicly identify themselves or would continue to download if they weren't anonymous?

     

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  8.  
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    UsersAreTheSite, May 3rd, 2007 @ 3:20am

    But the users *ARE* the site

    "but whereas the posters were anonymous, the site on which they posted isn't."

    The readers *are* Diggs value. Digg has nothing to lose but it's readership.

    I also have no sympathy for them. I've fought these DMCA take down battles before, and even high court civil suits.

    Nuisance lawsuits are a fact of life, but it does not mean that you preemptively give in to everyone who sends you a threatening letter.

     

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  9.  
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    Jamie, May 3rd, 2007 @ 4:21am

    Re: But the users *ARE* the site

    But that is the whole point. The DMCA takedowns threaten just that. Sadly, most people don't have the resources to take on the MPAA or the RIAA in these nuisance lawsuits. And when it comes to Nuisance lawsuits, it's whoever has the most resources that ends up winning. They win even if they lose in court, by simply bankrupting you.

     

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  10.  
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    Wolfger, May 3rd, 2007 @ 4:46am

    Re:

    "Before anyone posts the damn number again, DON'T! Its now officially considered spam."
    You mean this number?
    %30%39%66%39%31%31%30%32%39%64%37%34%65%33%35%62%64%38%34%31%35%36%63%35%36%33%35%36%38%38% 63%30

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2007 @ 5:18am

    One other point was made very clear by what happened on Digg, too. Regardless of all the laws that institutions like the RIAA and MPAA manage to pay Congress to pass, no matter what kinds of silly restrictions they try to impose to prop up bad business models of hamstring competition, the people of this (and other) countries are still very much in control when they can be roused from their "lethergy". Thus far these industries have managed to survive by banding together and keeping their opposition divided so they can pick them off one by one. Unfortunately for them, as Digg shows, their opposition now has methods of their own for banding together, and when so banded is a much more formidable force they these old industries.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2007 @ 5:25am

    "Kevin didn't want to play Whack-a-Mole but was forced to when he received the C&D. Whether or not people agree with the law, the site has to obey it. This didn't sit well with the mob who, unsurprisingly, have neither financial interest nor culpability. How many of them would've been willing to join that "I'm Spartacus" routine if they knew they personally could face lawsuits?"

    Digg isn't obligated to do anything based on a bullshit C&D letter claiming copyright of a MACHINE-GENERATED NUMBER. Only original works of authorship are protected by copyright.

     

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  13.  
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    09-f9-11-02-9d-74-e3-5b-d8-41-56-c5-63, May 3rd, 2007 @ 5:45am

    "Before anyone posts the damn number again, DON'T! Its now officially considered spam."

    What number?

     

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  14.  
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    YouKnowNothing, May 3rd, 2007 @ 5:55am

    Re: Re:

    Or this one?

    ----- ----.
    ..-. ----.
    .---- .----
    ----- ..---
    ----. -..
    --... ....-
    . ...--
    ..... -. ..
    -.. ---..
    ....- .----
    ..... -....
    -.-. .....
    -.... ...--
    ..... -....
    ---.. ---..
    -.-. --- --

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2007 @ 7:17am

    Re: Responsibility

     

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  16.  
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    robwil, May 3rd, 2007 @ 7:22am

    Re: Responsibility

    The point is not that the infamous number was posted and removed but mostly how it was done. Many posts were removed with no notice and in fact there was an appearance of trying to avoid explaining why there was this massive removal of posts. Thats what pissed everyone off, I think.

    I wonder what the reaction would be if the same heavy handedness were used here?

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2007 @ 7:37am

    Idiocy

    This level of incompetence in the government and tech industry is getting out of control. Since when is an encryption key something you can "own" and have taken down under threat of lawsuit? If the key leaked to one of my products, I would quietly notify people using the product and issue a hot fix with a new key. At that point I would look for the leak and plug it.

    What should have happened here is a that a judge should look at this and start reevaluating the validity of the DMCA and start picking at it. Anything that has this many generalizations and flaws should not have been allowed in the first place. When it's used to regulate a user driven websites content over a hex key, it's infringing on peoples free speech (among other rights).

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Pele, May 3rd, 2007 @ 7:43am

    Re:

    " 'if the users weren't getting value out of the community, there was nothing holding them there' ...
    I'd love to apply that argument to the exploitation of the weak by the strong. You know, like corporations exploiting illegal immigrant labor, capitalism exploiting third world cultures in the name of globalization, the US exploiting Iraq for oil.... "

    The only problem with applying the first argument to your examples is that in all of those cases there is something holding them there. Corporations control illegal immigrants through the threat of deportation. Companies control third world cultures through money and corruption. And of course the US is "controling" Iraq (if you can call it that) through the use of tanks and guns. Sense I see no contracts hodling people to Digg, and no one seems to be holding a gun to any user's heads your analogy doesn't quite line up.

     

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  19.  
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    Mitch the Bitch, May 3rd, 2007 @ 8:18am

    Bad USA....Bad

    MY tax money is stolen from me and GIVEN to third world dictators in the HOPES that they will put MY money to good use for the overall good of the people. Sadly this NEVER happens and the corruptacrats get even more powerful and the ignorant populations (scared of the power) then attack the USA as the bad guy all the while ignoring the true evil.

    Maybe some of these third world populations SHOULD go back THEIR OWN country and start a protest like they do in MY country. Oh, thats to hard when you don;t have a left wing media backing you up with lies and propaganda, eh?

    Time for people to re-read the Declaration of Independence.
    Here is a snippet to remind you.

    "That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Patriots; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present US Congress is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

    Funny how this so eloquently describes our current goverment...

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    RandomThoughts, May 3rd, 2007 @ 9:07am

    Site owners have to walk a tightrope; they don’t want to control their “users” since users typically don’t like to be controlled. Force enough rules and they will flock to other sites that don’t have as many rules. Don’t do enough to prevent illegal activity and you will end up in a court of law.

    Maybe the answer is to build up the site from scratch from your garage. No one wants to sue someone with no money. Create a great site with tons of users and then sell it to someone with deep pockets and get rich. Let them worry about the lawsuits.

    Oh wait, YouTube already did that.

     

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  21.  
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    Wyndle, May 3rd, 2007 @ 9:28am

    Re: Bad USA....Bad

    George Soros owns the entire Democratic party and is pushing for any Democrat to take the Oval Office so that he will be the defacto King of the US. If you doubt me take a look at how Rush Limbaugh analyzed the situation. [rushlimbaugh.com]

    Let's look at it this way:
    Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.
    Money is the root of all evil.

    In other words, Soros is trying to buy his way into power over the people of the US. I wish I could say "He does not care about the little people" but I don't know that for fact and I certainly can't afford to go to court for defamation of character or libel no matter how strongly he seems to prove it.

    I believe that Bush was self-deluded and got hamstrung and left to rot. He didn't have the backbone to stand his ground or rally the support that he needed. The end effect is that he looks like a statue in the park after the pigeons have visited.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    C'mon now, May 3rd, 2007 @ 10:33am

    Re: Re: Bad USA....Bad

    Well, even aside from Rush's analysis, you might try getting your quotations right.

    ---Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.
    Lord Acton was a wise man. Rather than mouthing the catchphrase, you might try reading some of what he had to say, such as the REST of that quote.
    "Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."

    He had some other good ones as well, such as
    "Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end."
    or "The danger is not that a particular class is unfit to govern. Every class is unfit to govern. " or
    "The most certain test by which we judge whether a country is really free is the amount of security enjoyed by minorities."
    or even my personal favorite "The man who prefers his country before any other duty shows the same spirit as the man who surrenders every right to the state. They both deny that right is superior to authority."

    ---Money is the root of all evil.
    Actual quote is "The LOVE of money is the root of all evil". I've heard that misquoted so many times in my life I've gotten quite sick of it. If you quote someone, give the proper quotation, don't pervert the entire meaning of the quotation by leaving parts of it out.

    Things like that is why I tend to immediately discount analysis by Rush...well, that, and the fact that ACCORDING TO RUSH he is just (and I quote) "entertainment". I don't draw my opinions from self-confessed entertainers.

     

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  23.  
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    ehrichweiss, May 3rd, 2007 @ 11:04am

    Re: Re:

    No, THIS one...;)

    1001 11111001 00010001 00000010 10011101 01110100 11100011 01011011 11011000 01000001 01010110 11000101 01100011 01010110 10001000 11000000

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Wyndle, May 3rd, 2007 @ 11:38am

    Re: Re: Re: Bad USA....Bad

    Please excuse this one for not having heard the correct quotation or knowing the origin of the quotes. Blame the public school system since it was all that was available to me.

    As for your grounds of dismissing Rush, it is entirely possible to be informative and entertaining at the same time. Take a look at the Mythbusters for example. I have learned a few things from that show and I had fun doing it. Long before Jamie and Adam there was Mr. Wizard. Even on the political front it is possible to inform and entertain at the same time. How else would you explain John Stewert's show being renewed? Granted, Rush proclaims to pass more fact than entertainment in comparison to Stewert, but it is entirely plausible that he can entertain and inform.

     

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  25.  
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    09F911029D74E35BD84156C5635688C0, May 3rd, 2007 @ 11:43am

    We Have The Power

    The truth will be free.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Bobby Cannon, May 3rd, 2007 @ 11:50am

    What's the big deal?

    Why all the hype about not posting the key? Most people won't know what to do with it anyway...

    09-F9-11-02-9D-74-E3-5B-D8-41-56-C5-63-56-88-C0

     

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  27.  
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    Charles Griswold, May 3rd, 2007 @ 12:28pm

    Re:

    "Before anyone posts the damn number again, DON'T! Its now officially considered spam."

    What number?

    This number, I think.
    13,256,278,887,989,457,651,018,865,901,401,704,640

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Charles Griswold, May 3rd, 2007 @ 12:36pm

    Re:

    Digg isn't obligated to do anything based on a bullshit C&D letter claiming copyright of a MACHINE-GENERATED NUMBER. Only original works of authorship are protected by copyright.

    AACS is not claiming that "09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0" is copyrighted. They're claiming that it's an anti-circumvention tool, and thus illegal under the DMCA. This is odd since they're the ones who initially distributed the number.

     

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  29.  
    icon
    entropy (profile), Sep 13th, 2008 @ 9:17am

    Another But the users *ARE* the site

    Yeah, but they don't suffer the consequences or pay for and run the physical network hardware, so the users are just as equally *not* the site.

    Not everyone wants to fight this BS in court and possibly lose their business over it. I'm glad that some do, however, and more power to 'em.

    Never mind that if these ...people... wouldn't repeatedly post such things on obvious and popular sites, they'd have valid keys with more longevity, no? Kind of self-defeating behavior, really.

     

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