Why I Am Bidding To Buy A Digg Account

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Why I Am Bidding To Buy A Digg Account


I came across an article a couple of hours ago whereby a Digg.com “top 100” user is looking to sell his/her account.

You can see the original post here:  http://www.digg.com/tech_news/For_Sale_My_Digg_Profile

The account (or, more accurately, the rights to use the account) is being sold on eBay.  I decided to participate in the auction.  As it turns out, I’m currently the high bidder.  Within minutes of my bid, one of the readers on the OnStartups.com forums made the connection (I wasn’t particularly covert about it, as I didn’t see a reason to be) and left a message on the forums asking:  “Why?”.

Thought I’d try and answer.

Reasons Why I Would Bid For A Digg Account
  1. Nothing Inherently Wrong:  Unlike about half the commenters to the original post, I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with someone trying to sell their digg account.

  1. People Buy Consulting Firms:  I compare this a bit to someone selling a consulting firm.  What you are buying is basically a bit of a “brand”.  This happens in business all the time.  To extend the consulting firm analogy, the buyer has to ensure that he continues to invest in preserving the brand in order to maintain or increase it’s value.  Many of the commenters were arguing that it was “stupid” to buy an account, since the account would not have any value other than to the original poster.  I disagree. 

  1. People Buy Blogs Too:  This is also similar to buying somebody’s blog.  If the buyer can’t continue to create content that is appealing, then the value will erode.  Same will happen here.  Whoever wins has to continue to deliver the goods.  Otherwise, they didn’t get anything.

  1. Digg.com is trending upwards:  Digg.com as a site continues to grow in popularity and traffic.  With enough time/energy, I think many people can likely create a relatively “successful” account on digg.  But, it takes an investment.  I simply compared the investment of time it would take for me to do it myself, and figured there’s a price I’m wiling to pay to accelerate this process.  At some level, this is a pure speculation game. 

  1. I Like The Name:  I kind of like the account name “geekforlife”.  Had it been something like “pinkballetslippers”, I’d likely be less interested.  

  1. Price Is Not Exorbitant:  My current bid is not that high.  If the required bid amount was in the thousands of dollars, the curiosity and amusement value wouldn’t be high enough to warrant the cost.

That’s it.  Nothing particularly devious, analytical or insightful about it.  I’m just participating in the experiment.  It’s unlikely that I’ll have the winning bid (but if I do, I fully intend to make good on it and pay up).  If I do win, this won’t be the most irrational money I’ve ever spent (and likely wont’ be the last irrational thing I do).

There’s probably an entrepreneurial lesson and a tie-back to startups (the focus of this site) in here somewhere, but will save that for another day.

Note:  The bid itself has nothing to do with OnStartups.com.  It’s just that I happened to use an eBay account by the same name (as I could not think of anything more creative at the time).

Posted by Dharmesh Shah on Mon, Jul 31, 2006


one thing i don't understand is what are you going to use the account for? i think in certain online games i can understand you can buy a higher ranked person and save time. but what are you getting out of a high ranked digg person?

posted on Monday, July 31, 2006 at 2:12 AM by noah kagan

Good question.

In my experience, there is a certain momentum that existing diggers have (as there are others that "watch" the top diggers). As such, my theory is that articles submitted through a more successful account with an existing track record are more likely to succeed.

Then again, I could be completely wrong.

posted on Monday, July 31, 2006 at 2:15 AM by

I don't see why there is so much anxiety about your bid and the experimentation. Two reasons:

This experiment has company after all. The Wonkette is now famously not going to write her blog any more - we will know soon enough whether the brand will survive her absence..

'Celebrity endorsement' or 'celebrity brands' all license and create leverage all the time. Sometimes it doesn't work. A blog whose readership I cannot comment on but whose reader participation is quite low is Po Bronson's blog where he has a co-author. People who read Po's blog want to see Po's comments and postings. When he writes, comments from readers go up...

So good luck - if you win the bid, it is worth a comment on a longitudinal experiment on ownership transfer of a brand. Who knows you could do a mini-case on it for Sloan School?

posted on Monday, July 31, 2006 at 6:26 AM by S Y

I'd be worried that there would be a backlash- that a certain subset of users would automatically try to bury any story submitted by this user.

posted on Monday, July 31, 2006 at 8:50 AM by

There would seem to be a substantial risk that Digg would shutdown the account or reset it or something too.

Although, I don't know Digg very well. Does reputation count algorithmically? If not, there risk is probably nil, and they wouldn't bother.

(For example, if a digg by a highly ranked digger counted Nx more than that of a new account, their would be a risk to people selling accounts...)

posted on Monday, July 31, 2006 at 8:54 AM by

Thanks to those that have commented. Very rational points.

Just a few quick thoughts:

1. I recognize that there is risk in that Digg may shut-down the account, the community may revolt and down-mod articles from that account indiscrimantely, etc.

2. Should I win the auction, I would invest some time/energy to attempt to maintain the brand equity. Not sure if I can succeed, but it's not impssible.

Either way, it'll be an interesting exercise and experiment. There may be some lessons in here somewhere. Part of my motivation also is to foster inspection and discussion.

posted on Monday, July 31, 2006 at 10:11 AM by

I see no problem with the bid on the account. However, I do question whether there would really be any benefit in the long run. If you don't dig topics with the same level of effectiveness as the original owner, the value of the account's reputation in Digg would definitely decline.

If you continued to use your own account and dug items to the extent that it rose to be a top dig account then the end effect would be the same - also you would have the momentum built up of digging good stories, which would make you much more likely to continue digging stories in the future.

There is also a credibility issue when digging with someone else's account.

I'm not a digger myself, but I am a familiar with the service and wanted to give my $.02.


posted on Monday, July 31, 2006 at 10:33 AM by Chris Jackson

But... why? Why is the account valuable to you? The name?

posted on Monday, July 31, 2006 at 1:26 PM by About Blank

The bid is up to $325! People will buy anything, they really will. I hope you're not the high bidder anymore Dharmesh, because $325 is NOT worth it!

posted on Monday, July 31, 2006 at 2:02 PM by Chubbs

I think it's a great experiment so great that even has pull traffic to his own site, that's good marketing. I don't see why Digg should cancel the account it is nonsense. It is like if I transfer my gmail account, Google cancels it. Anyway mi opinion

posted on Monday, July 31, 2006 at 2:59 PM by juparave

Bid is now up over $700 (not sure how that happened).

Looks like I'm not the only one that's crazy. :)

I'm backing out now. It was fun while it lasted.

posted on Monday, July 31, 2006 at 4:30 PM by

Digg should create another (not apparently affiliated) site to auction off accounts and get a % of the proceeds.

The cash incentive would pull many people to the site who would try to create valuable accounts. New business model for Digg. Everyone wins!

posted on Tuesday, August 01, 2006 at 4:11 PM by timg


I am glad you backed out. This is a quick easy win by buying a Digg account but won't get you any long-term results. I hardly believe that the rating has that much to offer in terms of value.

TimG, I think your idea would kill Digg. It would change the purpose and focus of its users. In 2 months when Digg is still killing Netscape think about what matters to the users and if the top users are that valuable.

the articles would get posted by somebody just not somebody who doesn't have a life.


posted on Tuesday, August 01, 2006 at 7:41 PM by noah kagan

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