The digg effect - a visual analysis

A couple days ago, my list of the top 10 redesigns of the year was “dugg” to the front page of the popular

I took a few screenshots of the action, so let’s get started:

It all started when my article was pushed up to the very top of the front page. I’ve submitted some of my other articles to digg before without much success, and this one seemed no different. I submitted it about a full day before it was promoted to the home page, so I really wasn’t expecting it.

The stats here are from the wonderful Mint and an assortment of peppers. After getting on the front page, things went crazy, getting over two thousand hits during the first hour. The traffic eventually stabilized, but at a higher level than before the digg.

This table shows the number of hits I usually receive in the right column (about 200-250 per day) as well as some figures from earlier weeks and months. As you can see, the first day following the digg produced more hits than a very successful month under normal circumstances.

The left column gives the number of hits by hour. As time passed, the story moved farther and farther down the digg front page and therefore received fewer and fewer hits.

I didn’t expect the digg to produce any more dedicated readers (ie. feed subscribers), but it did give a slight boost. The image above shows that there was a decent increase in subscribers, although it seems that the number has faded significantly according to my current “live circulation” according to Feedburner.

Since the article was primarily about other sites, it was logical that I would create a few “outclicks” to the sites described. It’s interesting to see which sites seemed more interesting to the visitors.

Suddenly, the dugg article is a number of times more popular than my own home page.

As a result of the digg, enough people bookmarked the page to put it on the delicious popular page. This ended up giving only a trickle of hits compared to the digg, but still a considerable amount.

Ad revenue for the day was only a touch above average. Digg readers are obviously only interested in the content and either use ad-blocking extensions or have learned to ignore ads.

My site went down sporadically over the course of the evening, but usually recovered fairly quickly so the numbers were probably not terribly skewed because of this.

Overall, if I have one more reader because of this I’m happy, and I think the odds are with me on this one.

  1. If I may be so bold as to ask, how did this affect your ad revenues?

    Andrew Kaufmann

    Dec 23, 11:01 PM #

  2. Can I ask what caused your site to go down? I too have a Dreamhost account and am worried about this and potential ‘harm’ from a sizeable number of people potentially using my sites.


    Dec 24, 01:53 AM #

  3. Its called the “Slashdot Effect”. I dont think Dreamhost, nor any other host appeciates when their user is slashdotted or “dugg”; since it truly pushes those bursty web apps to their limits on their servers. (Note: DH is very reliable for me, however; shared servers no matter who hosts is ‘vulnerable’ to this [slashdotting])


    Dec 24, 03:10 AM #

  4. Congrats you got dugg again
    nice to know that your on TXP


    Dec 24, 04:36 AM #

  5. Good analysis! This helps us all plan for a BIG DIGG!!!

    Thanks for collecting the info.


    Dec 24, 05:31 AM #

  6. A similar analysis of a story of mine that appeared on Slahsdot is here


    Dec 24, 05:54 AM #

  7. Very nice and informative graphs, digg+


    Dec 24, 06:21 AM #

  8. Keep up the good work buddy. Cool analysis, and Merry Christmas!


    Dec 24, 06:28 AM #

  9. Andrew: I did discuss my ad revenue in the article and the increase was minimal. As I said, digg users seem to either block ads or mentally ignore them.

    Garri: I was actually impressed that my site didn’t go down more often or earlier. At the peak of the digg, the site was receiving over 20-40 connections per second. When the site did go down, it seemed to recover fairly quickly and there was no dramatic slowdown. I’m on a basic shared server, but if you expect a much larger traffic increase than what I saw, you might want to move to a dedicated server.

    Joe: I agree, and I will definitely be recommending Dreamhost to friends and clients.

    shishira: Nice to see you’re still coming back shishira. Yeah, Textpattern can handle it with no problems :D

    pillguy: You’re welcome, it was definitely an interesting experience and I’m looking forward to comparing the weekend digg of this article to the last one.

    derek_farn: Thanks, that’s interesting.


    Dec 24, 06:29 AM #

  10. On a related note, more ways to getting slashdotted and surviving slashdotting


    Dec 24, 07:56 AM #

  11. My favorite part of the digg effect is when other people reblog/blog about it and you end up getting almost more traffic than digg from all the other people that post about your article.

    Paul Stamatiou

    Dec 24, 07:56 AM #

  12. About the ads on the first page – nothing is interesting(to me), that’s why I didn’t click through.


    jay bee

    Dec 24, 07:58 AM #

  13. I hate to be the bringer of good and bad news but here goes.

    the good – I am going to look into dreamhost now because of this article and the user below commenting on it. You should have had a sponsored by and maybe got revenue that way. Maybe next time.

    the bad – your site is broken. Linux+Firefox = your ads push and flash when you mouseover the center column they move the yahoo ads over your main content on the left. For a site with Design Templates that doesn’t make a very promising statement.


    Severis Sionnach

    Dec 24, 08:29 AM #

  14. Severis:
    This is my affiliate link for Dreamhost. If you do choose to go with them, please use the affiliate link because I am donating all revenue from this site to a charity of the month (Doctors Without Borders for December).

    About the flickering, I’m looking into it. I believe it’s a result of the bottom border on the link hover and I’ve changed it to a basic underline. Please let me know if you’re still having the same problem. As a side note, none of the Textpattern templates are my own design. They are all ported from other popular CMS’s.

    jay bee: It’s a problem I’ve been having with the Yahoo! Publisher Network for a while now. Hopefully, when the program is out of Beta the targeting will improve.

    Paul: Yeah, I’ve noticed that too.


    Dec 24, 08:45 AM #

  15. A story in one of my blogs got digged as well a couple of days ago. As soon as I realised that it was going to reach the front page I installed a wordpress plugin called wp-cache that I have read that can help you survive the slashdot effect and it worked perfectly, my blog was surprisingly responsive, I didn’t even notice a slowdown. One more thing that surprised me was that my adsense CTR didn’t fall as much as I expected (it fell around 20%).
    Just a final note, I have read somewhere that getting digged doesn’t affect your alexa rankings much, however my alexa rank for this week is about 30.000 and before getting digged it was about 300.000
    My conclusion is that the results of getting digged may be different for different kind of sites.


    Dec 24, 09:44 AM #

  16. Thame – Sweet it’s almost fixed. Now the only flicker is on mouseover of the image boxes. 9rules and the Doctors one. The actual comment link and right columns are not flickering anymore.

    If I knew you were going to jump on it I would have given more details about my browser.

    Firefox 1.0.7 + adblock ( no I don’t block everything in hopes that others will do the same. (Ubuntu Breezy Linux 1280×1024 )

    **I have a blog myself devoted to my photography and traveling.

    Which is why I was looking for a new host. Godaddy is cheap but their control panel and management leaves a lot to be desired.

    I will use your referral button. Do you use the dedicated server or the 7.95/mo plan? ( sorry if I missed that in the article)

    Kudos for fixing the site. Sorry about the attitude. I’m too jaded sometimes.



    Severis Sionnach

    Dec 24, 10:03 AM #

  17. The sad part is that it cost you some money or ill for server hits etc. and you got nothing in return. I have found the digg users are just cheap and not wort the server time. I included. I will never buy any thing from a site I have found from digg. I will stick to the normal amazon etc.


    Dec 24, 10:23 AM #

  18. It is always surprising to see my Fresh View Pepper in action in my random browsing of the internet.

    I hope you enjoy it. :)

    Kyle Rove

    Dec 24, 10:49 AM #

  19. Sev:
    I’m on the $7.95/month plan. It has more space and bandwidth than I know what to do with (even with all these diggs :D).

    No worries about the site suggestions, any tips you can give are great.

    Roomba: Like I said in the article, if I get even a single new reader because of all this traffic, I’m happy.

    What I like about Fresh View is that it’s not only very useful, but it’s beautiful and really fits in with the rest of my Mint. Great work and thanks for a wonderful peper.


    Dec 24, 10:59 AM #

  20. It’s great to see a 9rules member get on the front page of digg! This has been happening more and more recently ;)

    Congrats Thame!

    Mike Rundle

    Dec 24, 11:05 AM #

  21. Hmm…so the designer of the year makes an appearance.

    Thanks Mike


    Dec 24, 01:36 PM #

  22. cool! I experienced pretty much the same thing when my blog was dugg. its an exciting experience to watch the stats!


    Dec 24, 03:52 PM #

  23. What’s the analytics package you used to get the nice graphs?


    Dec 24, 11:45 PM #

  24. You did discuss ad revenue in the post. Wow, my reading comprehension skills are clearly on the decline. My apologies.


    Andrew Kaufmann

    Dec 25, 04:39 AM #

  25. No worries Andrew, I’m usually guilty of the same thing.

    The statistics program is Shaun Inman’s Mint and the graphs themselves come from Kyle Rove’s Fresh View plugin which uses SVG to create a lovely graph of visitor data.


    Dec 25, 07:13 AM #

  26. A while ago, I was ‘dugg’ as well—It boosted my traffic from < 100 visits a day, through the peak at 6000 visits for one day, and on to the current average of 1500 a day. My lovely host’s server never went down, though.


    Dec 25, 07:18 AM #

  27. That’s cool Veracon, hopefully I’ll see an increase in hits as a result of these diggs. Love your site BTW.


    Dec 25, 12:12 PM #

  28. Thame – what type of bandwidth increase did you notice across this digg? That’s been my primary concern (minus the fact that I’m not terribly proud of my site/blog) with getting ‘dugg’ (if I ever were to be dugg)...



    Dec 26, 04:51 PM #

  29. The bandwidth increase over the last few days has been astronomical. I have had two front page diggs of two image-intensive posts. Luckily, my host’s bandwidth limit is almost impossibly high so I have not had to worry about it.

    My statistics package does not track bandwidth, but I was able to see the large increase in bandwidth usage through my admin panel. The exact number was around 6-7GB’s per day that I was dugg. Keep in mind that each post had a number of 100+ KB images.

    What’s most important is that you have enough bandwidth for a digg and the ensuing chaos. It’s a chance to lure in some readers and you don’t want to lose that just because your host wasn’t too good. If you decide to change hosts, I recommend Dreamhost (Referral link) becuase they have very affordable and huge packages that grow every week.


    Dec 26, 08:17 PM #

  30. Thanks for that Thame!

    I am also on Dreamhost – I’ve been there for a little while – my views on BW requirements are a bit jaded by the fact that most of the time content I release (not digg-based) is videos (just in the last 24 hours I’ve pushed almost 700 GB on various mirrors). I take it for a regular post with some images (or even a bunch) would easily be able to handle a digging (just as long as the account stays up – which it sounds like it did pretty well on Dreamhost).

    Glad to hear it.

    Thanks a bunch Thame, and good luck with more Diggings in the future!


    Dec 26, 09:11 PM #

  31. Digg effect sporatically took down my server. It wasn’t actually from the number of hits, but from a few of the people using up all the ram on my server.

    See everybody went to my site to play Sega Genesis and Nintendo games online, only there is a quick way to change games and a few people just kept changing games over and over again. I am grateful to digg, but am now considering limiting number of games one ip address can load in a day.



    Dec 26, 11:34 PM #

  32. +digg…. good analysis


    Dec 27, 02:15 PM #

  33. Derik: Yeah, be careful if you get something large dugg. If it’s just a web page (even if it is a little heavy) you should be fine.

    James: I can see how that could cause a problem. I’m not really sure why my server went down – mainly because I don’t really understand how that works – but I assume it was a result of the sheer number of connections that was happening. At one point, I was refreshed the hit count every second and the number was increasing by about 50-60 each time.

    tom: Thanks. I’m glad that the somewhat rougher commenters seem to leave their thoughts on the digg page although I did have one person make the effort to directly send me an email describing what an idiot I am :D


    Dec 27, 04:09 PM #

  34. That’s cool Veracon, hopefully I’ll see an increase in hits as a result of these diggs.

    Oferty Pracy

    Jun 19, 12:25 PM #

  35. What a fantastic analysis, thanks very much.


    Aug 31, 04:21 AM #

  36. Very informative! Nice to see a page of positive comments for a change. I think you really got a few cogs grinding with this article.


    Sep 1, 04:46 AM #

  37. Good article. Here’s yet another analysis of the Digg Effect:


    Sep 10, 05:01 PM #

  38. Nice graphs linportal, thanks for the link!


    Sep 10, 06:06 PM #

  39. Someone else below asked this already.
    I am getting nailed with Spam in my guestbook for our catalog website. Is there anyway to stop this? If not, there really isn’t any point in leaving it up and active. Any help will be greatly appreciated.



    Sep 27, 02:37 AM #

  40. great article. I colo a cpanel box with 2 sites that got hit hard on the same day. moved all the rich media files over to my dreamhost account and the box stayed up but was sitting at a 3-5 load for about 4-5 days. considering the cost though, colo’ing it was nice, plus we had complete control over what needed to be done with the machine in the process.

    also, this made me wander over to Mint for one of our sites. Thanks for the screenshots of it :)


    Oct 5, 02:06 PM #

  41. also, nice work using txp. we use it for :)


    Oct 5, 02:07 PM #

  42. wir wünschen allen eine wunderschöne weihnachtszeit. liebe grüße


    Dec 14, 12:44 AM #

  43. It is always surprising to see my Fresh View Pepper in action in my random browsing of the internet.

    I hope you enjoy it. :)

    eMule Forum

    Dec 19, 01:43 AM #

  44. also, this made me wander over to Mint for one of our sites. Thanks for the screenshots of it :)

    Serwery emule

    Dec 19, 01:46 AM #

  45. Superb and very nice and informative graphs..Thanks


    Dec 22, 06:21 PM #

  46. Thanks for the screenshots


    Jan 2, 10:23 PM #

  47. Great posting! Thanks


    Jan 25, 12:24 PM #

  48. Its all right

    projektowanie stron

    Jan 28, 12:56 PM #

  49. Supreme concept of a personalized web portal.
    I look forward to using this as my browsers’ start page


    Jan 31, 04:31 PM #

  50. Keep up this good work.

    Thermage Hamburg

    Feb 5, 07:33 AM #

  51. Thanks a load for the stats. Haven’t seen anything nearly as comprehensive or useful anywhere else.


    Mar 18, 09:08 PM #

  52. What other sites are there like ‘Digg’?

    Michal Dodson

    Apr 23, 09:23 PM #

  53. Totally dig your“pain”..
    Last year in February one of my posted articles was Dugg and then proceeded to almost immediately go viral. The rush to my site was so overwhelming that it completely disabled the server for the first 3 hours.
    Over year later my stac still dig it if you know what I mean.

  54. I think these blog is really useful for new comers and Excellent resource list.


    May 29, 03:55 AM #

  55. GOod job,

    Best regards,

    Jelenia Góra – Jelonka


    Jun 5, 07:41 AM #

  56. Thanks for this. Always wanted to know about the digg effect

    Sam Allcock

    Aug 13, 02:40 AM #

  57. Profesionally prepared and informative graphs. Keep working :)

    Rejsy Morskie

    Sep 20, 02:45 AM #

  58. What a fantastic analysis, thanks very much.


    Oct 7, 12:01 AM #

  59. cool! I experienced pretty much the same thing when my blog was dugg. its an exciting experience to watch the stats!


    Oct 15, 11:46 PM #

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