Monday, May 19, 2008

MrBabyMan: Digg Users Revolt, Against the One Pure Man at the Top

Andrew Sorcini lives in Los Angeles, works as an animator for Disney and is the most powerful user that social news site has ever seen. Known at Digg and elsewhere as MrBabyMan, Sorcini has submitted a site-leading 2,400+ stories that have hit the site's coveted front page. Those front page submissions have delivered an estimated 50 million pageviews to the sites the submissions came from. A good number of those submissions have been RWW articles, and we appreciate that.

For months, a small but outspoken number of Digg's millions of other users have complained about seeing as many as three or four MrBabyMan submissions on the front page at one time. As we write this he has two front page stories. Those successes are outshined, however, by the most popular story on Digg Friday night: a cartoon accusing MrBabyMan of stealing stories from smaller Digg users.

Just before noon on Friday, Sorcini submitted the image on the left to Digg. An obtuse critique of the US Federal Government's economic stimulus plan, the image was apparently on the minds of more people than just MrBabyMan. Just after noon the image on the right was posted by Kimberly Vogt, a software engineer at Lawrence Livermore National Security, girlfriend of Digg QA Analyst Jeremy McCarthy a Digg employee other than McCarthy and a rare non-employee to have reciprocal friendships with many of the top staff at Digg.

Innocent enough, right? It was submitted in the humor category and Vogt now says the image was submitted "all in good fun."

Either way, it provided an opportunity for angry Digg users to lash out at MrBabyMan. At 7:30 Sorcini posted a message to Twitter reading: "If this is how the majority of the Digg community feels, I'll quit. I won't be a part of a group that doesn't want me" - with a link to the critical, remixed cartoon.

By eight o'clock that evening the Vogt submission hit the front page of Digg - two hours before MrBabyMan's original submission went popular. At midnight a link to Sorcini's Twitter message hit the front page with the title "MrBabyMan Might Quit Digg?" By the time the bars closed Friday night more than 2000 people had voted for Vogt's cartoon and there were 750 comments left between the two negative posts. Vogt's was the most popular of all submissions made to the site on Friday. A heated debate raged in comments between Digg users of every degree of psychological maturity and perspective on the issue that you can imagine: should MrBabyMan go or should he stay?

The Charges Against the BabyMan

There are a number of criticisms that Digg users levy against Andrew Sorcini. The primary one, which Vogt's cartoon remix refers to, is that MrBabyMan submits duplicate stories that other Diggers have submitted, knowing that his superior prowess will eliminate any chance that the original submission will hit the front page.

The next criticism is that MrBabyMan uses an unfairly large network of friends and spam-like "shouts" to garner favors and give his submissions an artificial momentum that they don't warrant on merit alone.

Finally, it's frequently whispered that MrBabyMan and other top Digg users are being paid for submitting stories. There are certainly people willing to pay them.

Via : ReadWriteWeb