The User/Submitter service touts itself as a site "where Digg submitters pay for Digg users to promote their stories. And, where Digg users make easy money."
Digg is a social bookmarking service where users can submit stories and vote for content that they like. Submissions that garner enough interest are promoted to the service's front page, which typically leads to a spike in traffic.
The User/Submitter site offers Digg users 10 dollar cents for every 'digg' they issue to listed stories. The publishers of those stories are then charged a base fee of US$20 plus US$1 per Digg.
It is unclear if the service offers a genuine product or is a hoax. In a test by vnunet.com, we were able to create an account with the service and were presented with a list of stories that we should vote on. However we were unable to verify if those stories had recruited the services of User/Submitter or were just random links pulled from the Digg.com website.
User/Submitter didn't respond to several requests for comment.
Digg charged that User/Submitter is manipulating a voting systems whose credibility is a crucial part of the user-driven media site.
"The concept of compensating an individual or individuals to Digg specific stories is certainly against the principles Digg was built on and it’s community," Digg chief executive Jay Adelson said in an email to vnunet.com
Adelson said that Digg is constantly looking for ways to prevent fraud schemes in its voting system and added that the service is considering legal actions against the service.
The battle between creators of voting sites and people looking to profit from manipulating them is only going to get worse, according to Jupiter Research analyst Barry Parr.
"As the sites become more influencial, you see something like an arms race for these people that want to spam them," Parr told vnunet.com.
Parr pointed out Netscape's user-driven media site as an example of how voting systems are being manipulated.
"You're definitely seeing an effort to promote political stories [on Netscape] both from the right and the left," said Parr.
There also are known cases of users manipulating or 'gaming' the Digg voting system.
Digg does have safeguards in place designed to prevent users from stuffing ballots. "Digg has many elements baked into its proprietary algorithm that are designed to prevent fraud, and Digg will continue to add new elements as new abuses emerge," said Adelson.
It appears as if some of those new elements are already in place. The vnunet.com test account was disabled within hours of posting diggs for User/Submitter stories.
- Silicon Valley Sleuth: Calling hoax on pay-per-digg service