Jay Adelson: Helping Net users Digg their content

When Jay Adelson first began discussing plans with Kevin Rose, the founder of user-suggested new content Web site Digg.com, the two had modest ideas for the future of the project.

“It’s been said that only one out of 10 startups are successful, so we thought, ‘Whynot have 10 ideas for startups in mind?’” said Adelson, CEO of San Francisco based-Digg. “Really, we all believed Digg was started just as an experiment to gauge the collective wisdom of social media.”

The “experiment” certainly paid off, as Digg is now one of the 100 most visited Web sites, with 1.5 million people using the site each day. The site showcases articles written across the globe — from The New York Times, to personal blogs — that are ranked in terms of importance by Digg’s readership. The only stipulations for the site are guidelines condemning hate speech, racism, sexism and other hurtful commentary.

Launched in early 2004, Digg began a meteoric rise on the Internet by at first catering to a niche of early adopting users interested in technology and computing articles before slowly expanding to incorporate news from all categories. Initially, Adelson split time between Digg and his own startup, Equinix, a successful a data center producer, before finally committing fully to his longtime friend Rose in February 2005.

“We were definitely pleasantly surprised by the interest in Digg,” Adelson said. “We had somewhat of a business plan, in that we thought it would be viral and word-of-mouth in its growth. But it just took off, mainly because we had such a passionate, loyal user base.”

Digg users’ passion was on full display last month, when the site’s patrons staged an uprising in protest of a removed link to an article that contained an encryption key for the digital rights management protection of HD DVD.

Digg’s management took the article offline because of what they deemed compliance issues, but after a massive outpouring of protest from the site’s users, Rose and Adelson decided to repost the article, along with an explanation of their actions.

“Admittedly, we were a little hurt that the users thought we took down the posting because we were trying to censor material,” Adelsonsaid. “But, we realize they truly believed in the concept of Digg being entirely user-suggested, without any outside moderation or filtering, which is something we strived for from the beginning.”

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