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The peasants are revolting

I’ve never seen Digg, the mondo community link-sharing site, quite as busy as it is right now. The Digg front page is full of stories that have been ‘dugg’ thousands of times, all of them including a short string of hexadecimal numbers that Digg has declared verboten.  Today, Digg’s users are rebelling.

Digg’s publishers must be wondering what the hell is going on. Digg’s fanbase is usually fawning, but earlier today the site decided to delete stories that include a key that can be used to decrypt protected HD-DVD disks (this is apparently illegal in the US, where freedom of speech applies to people but perhaps not to software). That caused some unhappiness, but a user soon noticed that the HD-DVD Group sponsors a webcast produced by Digg’s founders and the revolt began. Digg users, who had bought in to the idea that Digg stories were entirely suggested and voted on by the user community, are not happy and they’re making their displeasure known the only way most of them know how—on Digg, of course.

It’s interesting to watch and, at the moment at least, Digg users seem to be able to post and vote on stories quicker than Digg management can remove them.

It’s not that long ago that an earlier news aggregation site with a technical slant, Slashdot, seemed to have a near-untouchable user community but when Slashdot stagnated many users quickly jumped ship to the easier-to-use Digg. Is Digg now running the risk that it might lose a large chunk of its audience? The controversy is just sending more traffic to Digg at the moment, but this would be a really good time for Digg to show it shares the concerns of its customers.

[Update: it does. Digg founder Kevin Rose has joined the revolt.

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