Digg, the social news site formerly valued at around $200 million, was sold this week for a paltry $500,000. It’s been a long time coming, as I wrote in .net last year:
There’s an old saying about websites: if you can’t work out what product the site is selling, then the product is probably you. It’s something website users often forget, which perhaps explains how people can get so angry when you slightly change a logo or layout. “This site, for which I pay nothing, has changed very slightly! I’m angry and demand compensation!”
It can be a pain dealing with such complaints, but it turns out that the alternative is even worse. If you make it too obvious that the punters are your product, that they’re the computerised cows in your online abattoir, they tend to stop mooing and start moving. If enough of them escape, they can bring your entire business crashing down.
Just ask Digg.