Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Can You Digg It?

Big day today. I wrote a longer story for DISCOVER about the efforts of the future Olympic sites to go green, and be as environmentally friendly as possible. We published it Monday evening, it gathered a little momentum then, and then went big today as it was linked to on the front page of Digg.

Seeing your work on Digg is an interesting experience. At the first, it's really exciting -- you know that as soon as it hits the front page, many, many more people are going to see your work than would ever have seen it before. I don't have the numbers for you, as I'm just the intern, but it's a lot.

Also, thankfully, it didn't crash our site. That might seem like a negligent victory, but frequently in the last few weeks when one of our stories has brought in Digg traffic it has crashed the site. We're getting new servers this week. In the meantime, getting traffic is a mixed blessing - it's our lifeblood, but one too many visitors and we're not going to last. Then, this morning, the other server, which hosts our blogs, crashed as well. Bad few weeks for hardware.

Being heavily Dugg also reminds you of the reality of writing for the online -- that is, the ugliness, as has been much discussed on this blog. Some examples from today: If you look at the story, it's a summation of efforts by future Olympic hosts, but the headline is "Can Future Olympic Cities Go Greener Than Beijing?" Now look at the comments on the Digg story: Almost all of them are blunt responses to the headline, not the story. I know people read the story, or at least opened the page, as it's number one on the DISCOVER popularity list. And that's what makes you excited about being on this kind of aggregator Web site. But it would've been nice if people had responded to what's in the story, and not just used the hed as an excuse to shit all over China. I wrote the head, and I don't really care for the Chinese government, but it's disheartening when you feel like the people viewing your material aren't getting anything good out of it.

One of the few who actually responded to the text of the story called me an "idiot" because they thought I was saying the opening ceremonies in 2010 would be in Whistler, BC, rather than its cohost, Vancouver. I wasn't wrong; I suppose I just wasn't as clear as I could have been. Still, one of the things that I think is a hallmark of immaturity of discussion on the Web is somebody whose comment contains the phrase, "the author is an idiot because...," whether that slur is hurled at me or anyone else.

And yet, I feel bad about this dismissal. Not that I think I'm wrong about the commenter, but that in order to protect my own mental health from the anonymous legions on the Web, I have to dismiss them as nutjobs or thugs. Some certainly are, and there are a disproportionate amount of them among the frequent commenters. But having to imagine your audience as a bunch of wackos, to whatever degree it's actually true, sort of puts a dent in that whole "serving the public" mantra. Because really, at this point, my self-centeredness is a survival tool.

Oh well.

1 comment:

Michelle S said...

I say keep the blinders on and shield yourself. There's always a degree of idiocy in Internet commenting. Congrats on the story (I thought it was well-put together) and on being so highly Dugg.