What Will a Digg Buyer Be Buying? Not the Users Who Run It

Amid the newest of many rumors that the social news site Digg.com will be sold—this one the strongest yet, says TechCrunch, though CEO Jay Adelson says they’re inaccurate—I wonder what the acquirer thinks it would be buying.

After all, like most Web 2.0 companies, Digg’s value comes almost entirely from the contributions of its users. And Digg’s users are an unusually cantankerous bunch. Last year, for instance, they posted a secret code that media and tech companies use to prevent piracy. In response to an industry takedown demand, Digg initially removed the stories, but users revolted and kept posting new stories with the code in them. Cofounder Kevin Rose basically threw up his hands and let Digg users have their way.

Today, many Diggers are protesting that if Microsoft buys the company, they’ll flee. (Sample comments: “NNOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!” … “If Digg gets bought by the man, I know I’m out!” … ” if digg goes to microshaft, then you’ll be losing one more visitor. i’ve already jumped ship from those farktards at fark….hopefully i won’t have to find another place to digitally dwell. anyone have any suggestions just in case digg goes the way of the corporate whore?”)

Most probably won’t follow through on their threats, but any changes by a new owner—even those for the better, such as maybe discouraging the mind-numbing stream of trivia such as How To Make a Suit of Chainmail Armor From Soda Can Tabs—are likely to raise a ruckus. And there are so many alternatives that angry Diggers can flock to. Maybe the rumored $200 million-plus purchase price is chicken feed to likely acquirers such as Google, Microsoft, the New York Times, or News Corp. But money’s money, and despite the clear value Digg provides its users today, I can’t help thinking that’s a lot to spend for such a peripatetic audience.

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