On Sunday morning (9-24-06), I would awake to the alarming news of a concerted online assault to thwart my ambitions in the Web 2.0 world. This story (click here for the blog version) marks the beginning of what will become a "domino effect" in the blogosphere and media. Rest assured, this is big news, and unlike anything I've ever experienced.
The fallout -- and "malicious attack" -- began 25 days ago with my efforts to build awareness of an interview I conducted with Kevin Rose, founder and chief architect of popular "user-content driven" web site, Digg. Considering it was Kevin Rose, I decided to submit this interview to the digg community, as I believed they'd find a lot of interesting tidbits and relevant information.
To my surprise, the submission was largely ignored, and remained so for almost a month, garnering only 16 "diggs" (a "digg" is a vote for a story). Confused, I enlisted the help of my friend, "Balm", to submit a re-released version of the original interview (this was to avoid submitting an actual duplicate to the site).
Prior to engaging Balm's support, I decided to approach the community via e-mail for their support in "digging" this new interview. (Keep in mind that I obtained the addresses directly from the profiles of the users I found.) I received an overwhemingly positive response, along with kudos for the interview, as well as great consultation regarding my confusion over the community's response to my initial submission.
As before, the community again ignored this new submission (9-20-06). I began analyzing the reasoning behind the community's response, and arrived at the following conclusions:
1. I was not a "popular" community user
2. My name didn't carry much weight in the community
3. To date, I've never had a story "promoted" to the front page
Given the above, and my frustration with this seemingly odd response, I began seeking ideas from those who originally "digged" the interview. They were also kind enough to help digg the latest submission. After realizing this wasn't going anywhere, digg user da5idblacksun stepped forward and submitted his own story ("Awesome Interview with Kevin Rose", 9-23-06), which linked to his own blog entry about the interview.
Thanks to the efforts of da5idblacksun, and other digg users, we were finally gaining traction. Within hours, we were slated to make the front page. Everything looked promising to finally share a great interview with the community. Not so fast! After reaching more than 30 "diggs" in under 12 hours (enough votes to get a story promoted to the front page), I realized that something was wrong. My immediate thought: "Someone is 'burying' this story". ("Burying" results in the decline of a story's potential visibility. It was buried quite deep -- more than 13 pages -- even though the story was 'promoted'.)
On late Sunday morning (9-24-06), I would receive confirmation of my suspicion, but on a much grander scale: My podcast's host provider, Gabcast, informed me that on Saturday night (9-23-06) that a direct, and malicious "agent-based" attack was launched on Kevin's interview for several hours, resulting in a whopping 1 terabyte in bandwidth consumption! That's 1,000 gigabytes of WAN traffic!
Suddenly, I realized I had a much larger issue on my hands. This was, without a doubt, a concerted, malicious effort to undermine this interview. Who had the capacity to launch such an attack, both within the digg community, and on the Internet? Who would have access to the network resources necessary to consume so much bandwidth, in so little time?
As you can see, my efforts -- all pure and well-intended -- to engage the community in supporting my interview with Kevin Rose ruffled a few feathers. I did no wrongdoing to receive this type of backlash, which is the most extreme case to date of the abuse of sites such as digg, Newsvine, Netscape, etc.
As I mentioned before, this is only the beginning of my campaign to raise awareness of this alarming case in the Web 2.0 world. It raises many questions about the fairness and integrity of these user-driven communities, which hinges upon the purpose, intent, and morale of its users. I love digg, but not those responsible for this.