My Digg Version 4 Impressions

How did I get my hands on an invite to try out Digg‘s latest update to their site? I was one of the lucky ones listening to This Week in Tech‘s live show with Leo Laporte. He was interviewing Digg […]

How did I get my hands on an invite to try out Digg‘s latest update to their site? I was one of the lucky ones listening to This Week in Tech‘s live show with Leo Laporte. He was interviewing Digg founder and CEO, Kevin Rose as he made the announcement that all of the TWIT listeners could have first time access to the Digg Version 4 beta site! This was a small time window too. The invites were only for one hour on the show.

I was as gitty as a little school boy when I got the news. As Kevin Rose points out during the show, “there hasn’t been any changes to digg in the last two years.” This is a major facelift and retooling of the site. Kevin says this will fix a lot of the major problems people have been complaining about in the past. One of the issues that has plagued many users as Leo brought up during the show, digg has never just shown the stories from the people you care about or as Leo puts it:

I want a twitter style situation. Where I get to choose who I care about and they can curate my news for me.

Keep reading for screen shots and more information about the new features in digg version 4.

Before I get to my experience with the new Digg 4, here is a video Kevin Rose released a month ago showing a preview of Digg version 4:

Now Kevin Rose did mention that this was a rough alpha for version 4 so these screens could change dramatically for the final release. He also mentioned that invites will be released to the rest of of the digg community in the coming days. If you want to get in line, go to http://new.digg.com and request an invite. Next is a run-down stepping through the new setup process in Version 4.

Step 1: Suggested Profiles

This is eerily similar to Twitter’s Suggested User List.  These are suggested profiles for you to follow based on all of the topics digg covers, or you can choose profiles on a per topic basis. One difference I noticed which I will point on again later on, the topics are only the major ones. You no longer have the sub topics under each major one. This is a step in the right direction. Less is usually better in my opinion.

Step 2: Find Friends

The next step of the new digg version 4 allows you to connect with your existing social networks and bring in your friends who are also on digg. Below are the screens that show your list of followers and those you are following. Once again, very similar to twitter in look and feel.

Digg Version 4 Followers Screen

Digg Version 4 Following Screen

These friends along with the suggested profiles you selected in the previous step will make up the content seen in the new “My News” section of digg.

My News

This is the brand new section of digg that will show you all of the diggs and user submitted stories by your “friends, tastemakers, and sources that your following all presented in one unified feed,” as Kevin Rose pointed out in the preview video above. If you think about it, its basically facebook’s “news feed” for digg. From here you can see the top stories that are dugg by all of the people you are following. You can also submit a digg link from this section. The process of submitting diggs is a lot simpler than before.

New Digg Submission Process

Submitting a new digg can be done in a few short clicks.

  1. Paste your URL in the “submit a link” bar.
  2. Digg grabs the images, title, and description from the site. You can choose to leave it as is or edit the content.
  3. Choose a topic.
  4. Click Digg It button to submit.

Top News

New Version 4 News Page

The current look of the News Page

Top News is the default view you are used to seeing on the current digg.com site with some adjustments. The topics in the current site used to run horizontally across the top of the page with the main topics and further sub topics broken down underneath. Now the topics are listed to the left of the page and vertical. You no longer have the subtopics. All you have now are the ten main topics. I live this simplified look and feel. It give it a less cluttered look, simple and to the point.

Import Feeds

Another leap forward in this new digg version is the ability to import your own RSS feeds from your blogs or websites. Digg verifies you are the owner of the site in a similar fashion to Google analytics. Once you add your feed, digg will give you a verification key that you have to embed in your latest post. The key can be in the title, body, or hidden in an HTML comment. I was able to perform this without a hitch but I feel not every user will know how to do this. I smell plugins being released very soon just for this feature.

Once your feed has been verified, every new post will automatically be added to digg! Now this is something that has been long overdue. No more submitting your post to digg and have another more popular user promoting your story to the front page and they get the credit.

Vanity URL

Another feature taken from the likes of twitter and facebook are vanity URLs. Your personal page will be http://digg.com/[username]. Since this is still in beta it points to http://new.digg.com/[username]. This page will of course show all of the stories you have dugg, links submitted, comments, imported feeds,and following/followers.

Final Thoughts

From the short time I spent on the new site before writing this article, it’s evident that a lot of work has been made to fine tune the experience on digg. The interface is much cleaner and simplified where needed. I have been a casual user of digg in the past where I would digg on stories occasionally but I was far from active. I tried adding my stories to digg only to see them get one or two diggs but never really getting much traction and the fact that it was a manual process to add stories, kept me from using the service. Having the Import Feeds feature in the new version is definitely a plus for me and I will be sure to keep active to see where this goes.

I like the added feature of following friends and other like-minded curators. I’m anxious to see what kind of new dynamic this will create for the digg experience. I like the direction Kevin Rose and team are taking us and I can’t wait to see the final product.

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