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Top 10 Digg stories on India in 2006

Does Digg look beyond Apple, Linux and technology? Does the largely American audience care about stories on countries like India?


30 March 2007

Okay, Digg is the phenomenon of the past year, and probably of this year too, alongside Youtube. Over the last couple of years, it has often been observed that Digg has become more of a Technology - Linux- Apple news website, and less of a news site. This is quite probably true.

Among the top users of Digg, there are quite a few Indians. However, I have often wondered how a country like India, upcoming technology superpower and all, feature on Digg. The site still remains mostly US-focused  - and will obviously reflect on what Americans think is important.

And so there is this interesting exercise. I wanted to find out the top stories on India which were published on Digg, and see what kind of stories its users thought important about India - to many, the land of many Gods, poverty and call centers.

First, I searched Digg for stories on India, and then refined the initial search results. The rules which I went by were:

  1. The title of the post should contain the word India
  2. It has to be published in 2006
  3. It has to make it to the front page of Digg
  4. And then rank them by the number of comments it received

Conclusions? Does there really have a point to it? Anyway, the idea was that if one could get any insight out of the results of this little study - not to prove anything about Digg or India. Let's see where I got.

Top Digg stories on India

1. PICTURE: New Temple to be Built in India
1074 diggs

At the top was a post by ivanb, pointing to the picture of a new temple being built in West Bengal, India. This story got 93 comments. The temple picture itself is quite interesting - it does not look like a typical temple built in the typical North Indian or South Indian style. The minarets are very much there, but it seems to be illuminated from inside. Quite a novelty. The poster, Ivanb has been a member for an year in Digg, and in that time has submitted around 819 posts to Digg. That is almost 3 posts a day! He has quite a few posts which have received above 500 digs and has dugg 20,745 stories.

2. The President of India asks a question at Yahoo Answers
860 diggs

This story was brilliant marketing by Yahoo! India. They got India's tech-savvy-socket-scientist, Netsurfing president to ask a question on Yahoo and milked the resulting publicity well. "The question was - What should we do to free our planet from terrorism?" The poster was mythbuster33, who had never before submitted a story, and never again! Someone from Yahoo! marketing? The story was, of course, big enough on its own - and someone would have submitted it to Digg sooner or later. The Yahoo! Answers question received above 5000 responses, quite a mean feat.

3. India announces plans to develop robot army
805 diggs

This post by digitalgopher barely made it into this years list - it was posted 315 days ago. The submission points to zeenews, which based its post on a post by gadget blog engadget, which itself probably picked it up from some other news source. Digitalgopher has been on Digg since October 2005, has submitted 2086 stories, and dugg 12122 stories. His profile has been viewed on Digg some 106,035 times!

4. (Pic) Huge tanker washed up on tourist beach in Goa, India.
803 diggs

This story was submitted by user diggaccount99. This is an interesting chap. His account seems to be disabled - click on it, and you get a message saying that it is an Invalid User. He probably was 'invalidated' (to mean, made invalid!) by another user Xiol, who is the first commenter on the post. Xiol is flabbergasted - he had just submitted it in Reddit (thought by some to be Digg's closest competitor) and before he could submit it in Digg, was beaten to the post by Diggaccount99. Well, he has added a smiley to his rant - not a sore loser chap, I must say. The ship is the River Princess, one of the many which suddenly appear along India's shores. They are usually a big surprise when you wake up in the morning and look out your beach window, and there is a huge ship out there! Usually, they are cut up and sold as scrap in a while. Usually they remain a tourist attraction for a while, but I remember reading that they are pretty damaging for the ecology.

5. India plans free software for all
767 diggs

The poster is Roy Schestowitz, who has been a Digger for more than one year and has submitted 1,265 stories. The story describes the free software (to be distributed in regional language versions) by the government. The story is topical, and had generated quite a bit of buzz in the Indian media too. The free software, though, is Windows based - so unlike the Chinese government's Linux plans for China, is not really a setback for Microsoft.

6. Illegal IPod Market Booms in India
762 diggs

Posted by DigiDave (David Cohn), who has been a digger for more than one year, and has submitted 634 posts in that period. I would like to applaud him for posting this story though (and giving me a future cover story idea for this site).

This deserves to be on the front page of Digg, at least from the Indian point of view. There is a large market in India for gizmos and gadgets. Thanks to the Web, the techie population and the youth in India are very much aware of the products that are released in the US, and when they see a cool product, they want one. The Wired story talks about how easy it is to buy a smuggled Apple product in India. Thanks to the smugglers, Indians can get iPods and laptops often at prices almost similar to the prices in US. Comparatively, Apple products (and most gadgets that have to be imported) have ridiculous amounts of duties tacked on to them, and no one in his senses would pay that much of money to an authorised dealer. I suppose I can write an entire 5000-word piece on this topic, but I shall let it go reluctantly for now.

7. YouTube 'Gandhi' Video Sparks Outrage in India
738 diggs

Thank you, IvanB! Here you are again with another top India related story. Predictably, we Indians are too quick to react to perceived insults - and we definitely have our holy cows. Freedom of expression is not a sacrosanct concept in India, and getting offended is enough reason for anyone to instantly call for a ban. The video was removed from Youtube by the comedian in question who kinda sorta apologised for something I could not understand. The comments by diggers numbered 213 - most of whom said it was retarded to bother to ban stuff. I could not agree more. After all this is a country where recently someone was arrested for publishing a joke book, FTV was banned only yesterday for 'degrading' programming and Orkut and Mumbai police gang up to reveal users' private information.

8. Tech Crisis: China & India pass US in Engineering degrees
702 diggs

The original story is missing from vcconfidential now - but this too had made headlines when it was first widely reported in the Indian and US media. American youth seem to be headed towards law and finance while Indian and Chinese students seem to gravitate towards engineering. That, couple with the youth surplus in China and India makes for a real problem for future growth for the US. The original digger mbmccall is not a prolific poster at all - goes to show that you don't need to be a super-user in the Digg hierarchy to get a post to the front page provided the story is good enough, and you get some diggers to notice it.

9. Here's A Twist: Workers In India Fear Outsourcing
658 diggs

p9s50W5k4GUD2c6 is the poster, and he has been a member since February 5, 2006, and has submitted 1,484 posts. Contrary to what I initially thought, the workers in India who protested were not bothered about outsourcing of their jobs outside India - they thought they faced a threat from private companies within the country. Interesting though - the employees of India's Reserve Bank have some of the most secure jobs in the country in the public sector - but private companies which can do a more efficient job at lower overheads can pose a threat even to them.

10. India abolishes husbands' 'right' to rape wife
637 diggs

Indian law finally recognized marital rape, sexual abuse and emotional or verbal abuse as crimes - and it made it to the Digg front page. Important enough - and it is heartening to know that stuff like this which has no connection whatsoever with Digg end up on the Digg homepage. The original story points to the Independent of UK. The digger, AAAZ, has been a member since 23 June, 2006 and has submitted 1834 stories to Digg.

Conclusions: For one, Digg is not a lost cause if you look at these India-related stories which made it to homepage. None of them seem to be linkbait, none of them seem to be deliberately trying to get Digg traffic. When a good post like the Yahoo! Answers one comes along, even a newbie digger seems to have attracted enough attention to get it on the homepage. The marital rape story of the Independent and the one on the temple are also interesting, as they had nothing at all to do with technology or Apple or Digg, and still managed to get on the frontpage.

Will things stay this way, or have they already changed? I am no expert on the matter - but we definitely plan to check how Digg fares in a few other areas that are of interest to our readers. And probably Reddit too - but Reddit is a bit too unheard of in India, so we will take a while to figure out if it is worth it on this site. Signing off.




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