This story at Wired Magazine is a fascinating glimpse into manipulating social media. Mike Arrington isn’t impressed though, and suggests Digg should sue Wired because Wired owns Digg competitor Reddit.com.
I don’t agree, and frankly would love to see hundreds more of these “sting” operations which help everybody understand the challenges facing social media and hopefully will pressure sites to clean up the fraudulent stuff going on.
Mike’s right to point out the conflict of interest issue and everybody in this biz could use a transparency injection, but overall we need *hundreds* of times more investigative “sting operations” to show how problematic things have become with payola of various kinds, PPC, and other online scams like Ringtones.
The best response for Digg is to do an insider investigation and root out the abuses and publish it themselves, not pretend it doesn’t go on as they and Mike appear to be suggesting. Violation of the DIGG TOS by Wired reporter does NOT mean the study isn’t valid. These are almost entirely separate issues.
Soon I’m hoping to publish my own expose of PPC scams – I’m trying to get Enhance.com‘s attention right now about the bogus traffic I’ve been paying for and will soon publish the list of the sites from my logs over the past year. If enough of us did that it would go a long way to help clean things up.