Digg was founded in 2004 on a simple principle: hand editorial control of a news site to anyone that wanted it.
A dedicated community quickly formed around the idea, and it fueled Digg’s rise to the top of the burgeoning market of social news sites.
Last night, Digg’s founders learned how strongly their users would protect the control given to them.
The episode started when users began linking to a page containing a code that unlocked copy-protected DVDs. The site’s administrators began taking down the links and suspending the accounts of those who posted them.
Chief Executive Jay Adelson, explaining the site’s rationale, said Digg was simply trying to avoid a lawsuit threatened by the owner of the copyright technology.
“Whether you agree or disagree with the policies of the intellectual property holders and consortiums, in order for Digg to survive, it must abide by the law,” he wrote.
The users not only disagreed, they revolted by flooding the site with all kinds of different iterations of the now banned information — hidden in image files, tacked on to entries with thinly-veiled headlines, and even a song posted to YouTube.
OMG THIS DAY IS BEAUTIFUL!!! I WANT TO HUG MY FELLOW GEEKS!!!!
That entry was deleted by Digg as the battle continued, but someone saved a copy and posted it to their own site.
At one point, the entire front page of Digg contained nothing but stories about the DVD hack and Digg’s ban.
At 9 p.m. Pacific time, Digg’s founder surrendered to the rebellion.
After seeing hundreds of stories and reading thousands of comments, you’ve made it clear. You’d rather see Digg go down fighting than bow down to a bigger company. We hear you, and effective immediately we won’t delete stories or comments containing the code and will deal with whatever the consequences might be.
If we lose, then what the hell, at least we died trying.
Victorious, the Digg community appears to have stood down.
Mr. Rose’s post has earned over 11,000 votes so far, and Digg’s front page seems to be returning to its usual mix of technology and random news bits.