When Digg revamped its web site it committed two sins - the first was to annoy its users by changing the way it worked the second was deploying a buggy site and aggravating the annoyance. Now the cost can start to be counted.
If you are a developer it is difficult not to feel sorry for Digg but it has committed the twin sins of poor architecture and bad deployment practice. What is surprising is that the Digg development team, from the outside at least, has been behaving as if programming methodology was unknown to them.
Using data from Hitwise it is possible to estimate that Digg's traffic has dropped by 26% in the US and 34% in the UK. This also fits in with the observation of reduced activity with stories with just tens of diggs making it to the front page and a reduction in comments.
However it doesn't seem that Digg users have migrated to an alternative. By the same measure traffic at Reddit is up by only 2.6%. So where have all the Digg users gone?
One interesting observation is that dispite fixing many clear and obvious bug fixes the site is still far from stable. It doesn't take much to generate, if not an error message, a "forbidden" message; logging on can be erratic; and trying to find things to add to MyNews is made harder by the search not working and the list of suggested feeds often thowing an error. The user interface is also a bit mysterious at times.
Given the fact that the site is still buggy it might be that Digg users haven't gone anywhere they are just unwilling or unable to put up with Digg's erratic behavior. It might be that as the bugs get fixed the traffic will return and Digg's Alexa rank (notoriously unreliable but at least an indication) does show some signs of recovery since the upgrade.
The Digg's problems have seemingly been caused by not taking on board a good methodology. See: Digg 4.0 bugs and problems. They moved to a production version of the site after minimal testing and with no way to roll-back to the previous version should things go wrong. Such poor practice has reaped an obvious reward. Such is the cost of not being on top of the game.
Reddit has disputed the Hitwise figures and now claims a 24% increase in traffic, but over two months. Hitwise have now updated their estimates and state that the 2.6% was for the UK alone. The US figure was a 15% increase which fits in better with the 24% Google Analytics figure for two months. So it seems reasonable to conclude that at least some of the lost Digg users have gone to Reddit.
Further reading on social sites
Digg 4.0 bugs and problems
What Facebook has in store - F8
Another Facebook movie - Catfish
Facebook the movie trailer
The Social Network - new film about Facebook
The Social Media Marketing Book
Facebook: The Missing Manual
Facebook Marketing, 2nd Ed (Que)
Building Social Web Applications
Friends with benefits
The New Community Rules
Reddit is rude