Open Letter to Kevin Rose – Please Fix These Problems!

by Jeff Quipp November 30th, 2007 

Dear Mr. Rose,

I posted a blog a few days ago Some Digg Functionality is Broken Ohhhh It Hurts highlighting some of the issues I was having with Digg. The intent as you'll note was not to bash Digg in any way, only to highlight problems I was having with the site, and the solution I had found to work around the issues until such time that they were corrected.

Digg Button Kit
Image courtesy Scott Beale / Laughing Squid

I have to admit … I was really surprised by the popularity of the piece on Digg, and the responses from your users. I have been able to surmize two things from the responses to this piece:
1) you have many loyal Diggers, who care passionately about the Digg platform and community. I did sense a growing sense of frustration amongst your user base though, given the issues at hand.
2) there are so many more issues with the site than I was aware of, and people are begging and pleading to have them fixed.

So, I've taken the liberty of summarizing the problems experienced as per comments in response to the posting, in hopes that you could please expedite the process of having the issues fixed. I've also included some work arounds and suggestions found by some individuals in hope that it may shed some light on the causes of some of the issues. Here they are:

Problem #1: Indicator Charts Numbers Frozen
Digg 'fails' to update a user's Diggs or Submissions in important indicator charts (see here) The system seems stuck or frozen … perhaps as long as a week ago.

Problem #2: Comments
There are reports that the comment window grays out and freezes when using:
Safari 3 for Windows
Safari 3 for Leopard
Opera 9.2, 9.5
IE6, IE7

Other "Comment" issues discussed:
Attempting to submit a comment sometimes fails with the message Your session has expired, please refresh the page before commenting. However, reloading the page or even logging out and back in doesn't solve the problem.
Using Unicode characters in a comment makes the comment hard double-spaced.
Long URLs are truncated when you edit a comment.
Have to use firefox to comment, but then Digg crashes/freezes randomly
One person reports that sometimes comments do not get updated
Same person reports that "I sometimes don't see in my profile stories I commented on, but they're visible when I go to the story"
"… Problems like digging or burying a comment causes the comment to just flash constantly and never really change until I refresh. This is annoying when you bury a comment because the comment collapses and grows until you refresh the page."
Three people note that they can only make 1 edit to a comment, even within the allotted time. "Submit Comment" is grayed out after 1 edit.
Another notes "seeing extra spaces in my comments if I enter a carriage return."
Digg alters the formatting of certain comments when submitted
Typing special characters (eg. :, !, ?, etc.) in comments after links out to other sites, often returns a 'site doesn't exist' error (here)
One person reports that clicking on "Comments" within a "Friends Activity" page, terminates at a page showing random comments on that submission. (maybe their comment wasn't in the first 50 … see next comment)
If your comment is in the first 50, the link to your comment works. If it's not in the top 50, it doesn't work.
Pages load very slowly when clicking the link to read other's comments
One person reports, "about two weeks ago, the comments on most of the past articles have either disappeared or load only partially".
Once mentioned; "they also don't truncate URL's correctly, so on that page or even on your own comments page, the "see comment" link can get messed up because the link tag before it doesn't get closed."
"When I click to view comments 51-100 or whichever, if i go leave the page and come back and try to see those comments again, they won't appear."

Problem #3: Shout Issues
Some people cannot send shouts at all. Not sure if this has been rectified by the new Shout System … I'm sure we'll see some comments here answering that question.
There is much confusion about limits … is there a maximum amount of friends you can shout to, and if so, how many?

Problem #4: Shout Reply Issues
I've experienced this problem first hand, and others have made mention too; in many cases I cannot reply to a comment using Firefox. When I hit "Reply to Comment", I'm taken to the correct page, but no 'comment box" appears. It doesn't happen 100% of the time, but intermittently. Others are saying:
can't reply in Opera

Problem #5: Random Logouts
Some people are reporting they are being logged out of Digg without ever having navigated away from the site.

Problem #6: Other Issues of Note
The "Sort by most Diggs" in advanced search doesn't work.
Problems viewing my friends/history/submissions pages.

Suggestions for Improvement:
1) access to see number of people who buried a story
2) access to type of bury (inaccurate, etc.)
3) When the 'Shout' button is hit to send the shouts, please acknowledge that something is happening. If it takes minutes, then tell us the shout is being processed and sent.
4) Add "Delete Comment" functionality
5) Ability to sort comments by "Nested Comments"

Work Around Suggestions for Users:
If you're using Firefox and have the Web Developer extension installed, use "Forms > Enable Form Fields" to re-enable those buttons.
Camino permits at least one person to comment effectively.

At the end of the day, if you could please communicate with us (your users) to acknowledge that you are working on correcting these issues, that would be really appreciated! An ETA would be even better. Perhaps you could do so via your blog, much as Matt Cutts does from Google. It gives the company a persona, a face, a personality. Digg is afterall part of the web 2.0 movement, which is supposed to facilitate better 2-way communication, rather than one-directional preaching and selling.

Thank you in advance!

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25 Responses to “Open Letter to Kevin Rose – Please Fix These Problems!”

  1. [...] Why? Digg is the best example of how NOT to design a website. Look at the source of digg for proof.read more | digg [...]

  2. Init says:

    What Digg needs is a bug tracker, such as Bugzilla. This allows me as a user to track bugs that I have reported, as well as submit additional information to these bug reports. It would also allow me to read comments from other users as well as the site developers, with email notification at status change and comment submission. This would also enable me to not submit reports of bugs that others have already reported, and instead just add myself to the CC list o track its status.

  3. Denis says:

    I can't believe REDDIT is better. Digg is very buggy for me and the ads are annoying.

  4. Chymmylt says:

    Another problem. I am not a big IE fan but at work I am forced to use it unfortunately (corp. will not allow to install software).

    The problem is with the new advertising system (been like this for several weeks now). The advertising system seems to hijack the forward history function of the browser. by clicking the arrows (or using keyboard shortcuts) it only affects the advertising block and not the actual page. This is very frusterating and does not seem to happen in firefox.

    I know the IE does not adhear to standards particularly well but I have never had this issue on any other site and never on digg before. And since 80% of the browsing public still use IE – this is just unacceptable!

  5. Sterango says:

    ive run into a lot of these issues also that just started happening a week ago, namely the random logouts, and not being able to comment using IE.

  6. John says:

    It's time to give up on Digg. It's the least transparent popular new-wave site, it's the slowest, it's majorly mismangaged, and they're not at all focused on their users.

    The free ride is over. Fuck 'em.

  7. Gavin says:

    I am SO glad to see I'm not the only one with this problem. I was starting to think it was just me. Having to re-login all the time has gotten to be a daily annoyance at this point. I have slowed down on my visits to Digg because of this.

  8. Scott Lloyd says:

    digg runs on a LAMP setup.
    L – Linux is crappy
    A – Apache is crappy
    M – mysql is a joke
    P – perl is a huge mess

    what do you expect?

  9. Sandy McArthur says:

    #6 is because of broken JavaScript and I've reported it a few times now. The select element has an onchange="javascript:window.location …" attribute but the "javascript:" prefix is just for URLs and not event handlers.

  10. Phil says:

    the logout issue is the most annoying of all! I get randomly logged out all the time using IE7 or Firefox.

    Basically if I'm on a digg page for more than about 30 seconds I get logged out. If I open a new tab with a digg page on it I get logged out.

    Occasionally I am somehow magically logged back in later without explicitly doing so.

    Also I can only occasionaly "shout" on IE7 and never with more than 10 users selected (which is fine, but if there is a limit, LET US KNOW WHAT IT IS!)

    I can pretty much always shout in firefox, and the "limit" seems much bigger there. I was playing around with it and managed to successfully shout up to around 30. This leads me to believe there is no real limit, but rather something is messing up as you select more users.

    Oh and in IE7 I get a javascript error everytime I try to shout.

  11. Big Brother says:

    "Problem #5: Random Logouts" — Yes, fix this please. This happens to me about 30 times a night, and happens on both my home PC and my puter at work. It's really annoying to be on page 64, and then lose your place because you get redirected to the login screen. And it seems to happen without any real rhyme or reason.

  12. Nadim says:

    Yeah these kind of bugs are faced commonly recently on digg and moreover i havent been much active on digg due to one of my domains being banned …. well if functionality wise if we have something very much like digg it would be better rather and digg it self…. the only feature that is worth on digg is the shouts rather than that its not something which can be talked about these days due to many companies playing dirty games of paying digger to digg post for some of their website… any ways i will like everyone's view as i have the notify option for this enable for email to me

    Regards

  13. I am so sick of Digg automatically logging me out. It does this in both IE7 and Firefox 2 on every computer I use.

    I'll be in the middle of reading stories, it will say that I'm logged in at the top. I'll click to dig something and it says that I'm not logged in.

    It's extremely annoying. Happens about every other day.

  14. Someguyontheinternet says:

    I have problems with digg CAPTCHA, constantly having to reload page for a new CAPTCHA so it works, I obviously know how to read. Really my only problem. LOVE THE SITE though. recently I have been putting P.S. saying "I hate digg CAPTCHA" every time I experience this problem.

  15. Phil says:

    it's also unnaceptable for a site that is worth millions of dollars to be this buggy. I always thought no "top-teir" site could be worse than myspace was before they re-did their site in asp.net, but digg takes the cake.

    Worse yet, is that with every new release supposedly fixing the bugs, the site gets slower and more buggy.

    Maybe they should take a queue from myspace and just re-write the code for the whole site. Clearly their developers aren't capable of fixing the current code.

  16. Phil says:

    oh, and my website http://www.hiskey.us. Why you say? I don't know! No page from my personal site has ever been submitted to digg. You can even do a search and verify that. The error message says "blocked: This domain has been consistently flagged as an intermediary to the direct source of news and/or video content. Please link directly to the story source."

    I've never submitted anything from my site before and to my knowledge no one else has. Honestly, I've never even had content on my site until a month or so ago. It was just personal links for myself.

    I actually have started putting good content on my site and decided to digg something from it and bam, got the banend message.

  17. PAStheLoD says:

    #7: I don't think they use Perl. Their response headers indicates the use of PHP 5.2.0.

    // X-Powered-By: PHP/5.2.0-8+etch1

    And for some static content they use lighttpd, so not exclusively Apache..

    Anyway, the random logout issue is annoying, just like the too much crap on the frontpage.. with this friends thing digg has turned into a social bazaar where the loudest can be always heard. If I've 142 friends, then I submit something, that's like instant frontpage.

  18. Frankilus says:

    I have experienced the random logouts many times…and still do…esp. in IE7

  19. Prodigy says:

    I say you guys need a new hobby besides trashing Digg.

    Digg is still a relatively small company that is adjusting to its user-growth and needs. They keep adding new features to make its devotees happy. It takes time to fix some of these problems.

    That little jab with LAMP was totally uncalled for and I really think that they're doing the best they can. The folks at Digg aren't stupid and they only have so many resources folks!

    They're not Microsoft or Google…

  20. Phil says:

    "Digg is still a relatively small company that is adjusting to its user-growth and needs. They keep adding new features to make its devotees happy. It takes time to fix some of these problems."

    First off stop adding features and fix the old ones.

    Second, I can name hundreds of sites that are every bit as complex as digg and run virtually error free. (and really are "small" websites)

    I personally own a site that gets over 10 million hits a month (I know a drop in the barrel compared to digg), however mine has virtually no errors, has complexities digg never dreamed about (loads of machine learning algorithms, such as ANN's and things powering core features of my website) and I am the sole maintainer and builder of the website. And frankly it took me only about a month of full time work to make it and I spend about 20 hours a month total on updates (spread out over the month) and with that come up with updates all the time. Updates are easy if the original design of the site was good on the back end.

    I also have seemlessly scaled it from an old PC in my home running on a DSL line hosting it, to a multi-server cluster that lives in a fancy hosting center (though I still do all the work to maintain it, they just give me the bandwidth I need). And along the way I never had had slow downs because of it. I also have the current state of my serving power one or two levels up from what it needs to be. Again if the server backend structure (and website design) is sound it is practically as easy as just plugging in a new server to scale it.

    Digg IS a big company (about the 100th most popular site on the web, estimated to be worth around a half a BILLION dollars). They also just signed a HUGE ad contract with Mickysoft and so have some cash to play with. They need to invest that in re-building their site, as myspace did when they got some money.

    Myspace used to be the buggiest site on the web, but now it seems to run pretty well since they switched to the new design in asp.net.

    That's not trashing digg, that is just good business. You have to value your customers time more than your own. If your customers are seeing 10 second page load times and spending loads of time having to get around errors just so they can use your site then frankly it won't be long before the customers go away. And given digg only exists popularly BECAUSE of the customers, I'd think they'd put a little more effort into fixing the problems that are inherent in the site.

    The problem with businesses that go from nothing to HUGE within a couple years is often that the people who run them don't really know what they are doing and have to learn quickly as they go.

    Again, that's not trashing, that is constructive criticism.

  21. I've experienced slowness and even an occasional machine lockup while submitting stories and/or comments on the digg.com website from my Ubuntu 7.10 GNU/Linux machine (browser: Firefox 2.0.0.10).

  22. Ken says:

    Search gives me my biggest headache with digg.

    The scenario is always the same.

    I'm at work browsing digg headlines, and I will see a posting for something provocative that I don't dare click on while at the office. When I get home, the story I wanted to read hours earlier is now buried too many pages deep to find it, so I try and do a search within digg. The search results contain everything BUT the article from that same day! Even if I meticulously enter the exact title of the story word for word, the search engine still cannot find it!

  23. Yes, I agree with the search engine problem Ken.

    Here's how I easily find stories on digg (replace "Linux Enthusiast" with whatever you want to search for:

    "Linux Enthusiast" site:digg.com

    Shannon V.

  24. glenneroo says:

    Maybe the digg founders should spend LESS time with stupid crap like DIGGNATION, a totally useless waste of time and instead, concentrate on making DIGG a bit better, then perhaps they will finally be able to sell out to some corporation who's hungry for email addresses and retire into a life of luxury…

    and seriously, the users are even finding where the bugs are, all you gotta do is hire your wonderful outsourced programmers to fix them. They can't even dock pay for having to fix half the stuff now that your users have found the bugs for you… ha ha!

  25. These bugs have got so annoying i dont use Digg anymore, its a shame.

    Hows that pownce thing working out he started?