Digg It: Houseboat Story Gets Flooded

The post about the feds seizing city activist Fane Lozman's floating home from the Riveria Beach Municipal Marina blew up yesterday.

By that, I mean it got deluged by the people at Digg.com, a web community thingie wherein people promote stories of interest. I don't know how many views have flooded the Lozman post, but it's surely many thousand.

My company, Village Voice Media, was recently accused of "gaming" traffic through Digg because corporate people were submitting VVM stories on the site. It's an interesting post, but I can find absolutely no problem with a company, mine or anyone else's, promoting its stories on the internet that way. None at all. Plus, only stories of interest, whether it be great journalism or a photo of two elephants humping, get far on the site. 

What is debatable is the value of a flood of out-of-town web clickers. The Pulp has been linked by a lot of big sites at one time or another, and I can say the only one of real value for this site has been Romenesko, in that it helped establish the blog's bona fides in the media world. Drudge, conversely, is the greatest example of the meaninglessness that huge traffic can be. You get linked on the site and, wham!, 40,000 right-wing cranks come and forage like locusts for a day or two. Check out what they did to this post about layoffs at the Palm Beach Post. Any attempt at intelligent commentary was destroyed. Sure, it temporarily hyped web numbers, but it did nothing to build a local base of readers. In fact, the Drudge effect probably turns a lot of new readers off; if they just happen by at the wrong time, they'll think the Pulp is a knee-jerk ideological blog.

Digg has a much better, more eclectic, and more interesting membership. In fact, I joined yesterday. Here's an example of a new comment on the Lozman post about combating corruption in local government:

This will continue to happen all over America until people start finally fighting back. By fighting back, I mean no longer using their rigged, b.s. system and instead attacking these tyrants directly.

Refuse them service at your stores, refuse to fix their cars, repair their homes, educate their children... REFUSE THEM EVERYTHING.

Treat them like shit in public. Tell them you think they suck. Serve them shit on a plate at your restaurant. File legal, worthless complaints for everything they do, no matter how small.

In other words, harass them out of town. Make their lives miserable. Tell these "public servants" that they can best serve themselves by LEAVING.

"Just doing my job" is no excuse. "But I'm only his wife, I didn't make that decision" is no reason to be lenient. They and their families need to be ostracized. Booted. Treated like the dung heaps they are.

This is what we need to be doing to get rid of them. Here in my town in Wyoming, we did just that. Our mayor of ten years was using his office for business insider dealing. He's no longer in office and most of the town treats him and his uppity wife like garbage.

That's the Pulp spirit, people. And there's value in that, no matter how you cut it. It's interesting to your readers, it gets the blog out there, and it furthers the goal of raising awareness about whatever it is you're writing about.

But the truth is that the Wyoming guy might make a few return visits, but he's almost surely not going to be a regular reader. Wyoming and South Florida are too far away, even if he really digs the blog. 

It does next to nothing for long-term traffic, so what about advertising? Let's put it this way: Do you think the guy from Wyoming is going to Fiesta Latina Wednesday at Cafe Iguana? I doubt it. 

Wow, this line of thought reminds me to bring some local value to this post. Here's the Fane Lozman update: Trial is scheduled for late November, and Lozman continues to live in an "undisclosed location." 

There's some real news, which is what this thing is all about. I don't spend time Digging or Drudging anything. But getting Dugg or Gawked or Huffingtoned is a nice complement to that pursuit and makes it a little more fun as you go along.

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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman