Liberalism and Conservatism on Digg

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Posted on July 08, 2006 12:43 PM in Miscellaneous
Warning: This blog entry was written two or more years ago. Therefore, it may contain broken links, out-dated or misleading content, or information that is just plain wrong. Please read on with caution.

If you keep track of my B-Sides at all, you've probably noticed that I'm an avid Digg reader. Ever since the unveiling of Digg 3.0, it has been interesting to see the political leanings that have popped up at the site. Now that there is a specific Politics category, any time a political item, be it a clip of Bill O'Reilly, The Daily Show or an interview with Cindy Sheehan, shows up on the home page and gets any substantial amount of attention at all, the liberals and conservatives of the Digg community bash heads.

The trend I've noticed is that the conservatives quickly chime in with their opinions, only to have them buried by the comment rating system via the thumbs-down of liberal readers. At first I was going to attribute this trend to the fact that I typically only click on Digg links that have a liberal bias to them, but the more I think about it I don't recall ever not clicking on a home page item that seemed to have a conservative bias to it. Maybe those don't ever make it to the home page?

It is reassuring to me, especially if the answer to the above question is yes, that the majority of the Digg community is liberal. However, it isn't surprising, given that the Digg community is quite technical and scientific compared to any other average online community. I work in a liberal state, in a liberal city, for a software company that seems to be mostly liberal. I'm curious if there are technical companies (not necessarily software-related) in more conservative cities and states that aren't as liberally biased? Or maybe they still are?

It isn't hard to see the frustrations of those on the conservative end of the spectrum that have noticed the same trend that I have:

It's confirmed. Digg is now an editorial mouthpiece for the left side of the political spectrum and no longer simply a news aggregator. Notice that all non-liberal comments are always actively censored by the left-leaning readership, while "Cindy Sheehan is a patriot" comments are apparently so insightful as to warrant wild digging sessions up into the 50s and 60s.

Looking through an unbiased lens, it's unfortunate that so many are frustrated by the liberal trends on Digg. However, it's extremely difficult for me to look through that lens for very long. It's hard to flip that logic switch in my brain.

Regardless of your political beliefs, the trends on Digg are interesting to think about. How would these trends be different in a different online community? What if MySpace or Facebook had political sections? Do you think the "majority rule" would take on a different face?


Sean on July 12, 2006 at 7:04 AM:

I'm thinking pretty hard here, trying to recall a Digg article on the front page with conservative leanings, and I'm coming up with nothing. I'd be interested in seeing a more in depth study of why such a large geek community is predominately liberal.


bonch on July 13, 2006 at 12:31 PM:

I'm the guy who wrote the comment you quoted. Basically, loading at any given time, you will find nearly 100% left-of-center stories. Conservative-leaning stories are submitted, but they are filtered out in the queue.

I had hoped the Digg politics section would be a huge link aggregator for both sides, where you could come and watch each end of the spectrum bash it out with top-quality links from both ends, forming your own conclusions and getting the most informed through a little miniature free market of ideas competing with each other. However, the section instead leans entirely left. As a conservative libertarian, it's frustrating to submit great stories and comments and watch those be dugg down in favor of typo-ridden "retarded neocon" comments and left-leaning blog links (and endless Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert video clips).

Today, in fact, I've abandoned the section entirely. It's pointless to be there if you have no voice. Digg/politics is a liberal editorial page, and that's just the way it is.

"I'd be interested in seeing a more in depth study of why such a large geek community is predominately liberal."

It's not as though conservatives are not technically minded or don't possess an Internet presence. Conservative blogs far outnumber liberal blogs, and sites like Little Green Footballs get hundreds of comments per story, more than Digg does. I believe it's a matter of exposure. If all the readers of Little Green Footballs, Powerline, etc. registered at Digg and contributed, it would swing the site over to the right. Picture how fun it would be to watch two massive political communities submitting stories from both sides and comment on each other's ideas. Very entertaining and informative. Too bad it's not like that.


Bernie Zimmermann on July 13, 2006 at 2:02 PM:

Thanks for stopping by, bonch. I actually recognize your handle from the many discussions I've come across below the Dugg articles. Thanks for your insight and opinion. Maybe HOTSOUP will fill the void you speak of (more details available here).


Ryan on July 17, 2006 at 1:36 AM:

Interesting read. I don't visit Digg much (nor anything else, really) so I wouldn't have known about this trend otherwise. Although, if someone had asked me if some website tends to lean one way or the other, barring any actualy knowledge, I would guess liberal, simply because those to the left seem to have a better grasp, in general, of media and the like. I like to pretend that this is because those of us to the right have more important things to do (like drive the economy, save the world, and raise families) than whine about stuff on a website, but that can't really be the reason (can it?), so what is the reason?


Nick on August 13, 2006 at 12:34 AM:

Perhaps any site like Digg has a tendancy to lean right or left. Then the site leans more and more in one direction and eventually tips over to that side. This maybe because people prefer to reading opinions of people who feel similarly as they do and only weak opinions of the contrary. I don't think this is a good thing though.


Mikey Benny on April 16, 2007 at 8:59 PM:

There was once a story about the Florida Legislature trying to name a program at the University of Florida for Jeb Bush. Digg went NUTS over this.

I live in Florida, so I said something along the lines of, "I am a liberal, and I live in Florida. I agree with you that G.W. Bush is terrible, but Jeb Bush is not cut from the same mold as his brother. He is well-liked and respected in Florida, even among liberals. Be careful not to just assume he sucks just because his last name is Bush."

Pretty innocuous statement, I think. But my comment was buried six feet under within a couple of minutes. As I said, I'm a liberal, and the liberal bias at Digg was so blatant and obnoxious that I was completely turned off from Digg. That's saying something.

The mobs at Digg are a bunch of closed-minded idiotic liberals who won't tolerate any discourse that doesn't completely agree with their thinking. Digg, especially politically, is not worth anyone's time.


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