I have been BANNED from Digg.com!

Greetings Readers!

I have some rather suprising news for you today.  I have been banned from Digg.com!  For those who don’t know what happend, I will catch you up to speed before I post all correspondence that I had with Digg support.

Last week I made a wrote one of my insightful blog posts about Cisco’s predictions on internet traffic in 2013.  It happened that a similar blog post from Om Malik made it to the front page of Digg about the same story.  To give Digg readers another view, I posted my link into the comments on I believe it was Thursday.  Due to my inability to link properly, I only got a single person to visit my blog from posting the link in the comments.  Saturday morning I woke up and went to Digg a story that I saw on my Digg RSS feed to find that my account was invalid.  I did some searching to find that all signs of my existence on Digg had been completely removed.  Being completely confused as to what was going on, I contacted Digg support only to find out I was banned.  The following is all of the emails exchanged between myself and Digg support with a few thoughts thrown in.  At the end is my thoughts on the whole issue and I will discuss it further on the next Global Geek News podcast.

Support,

This morning I woke up to find myself logged out of Digg when I went to Digg this story: http://digg.com/space/Giant_Tsunami_on_the_Sun_Captured_By_NASA_s_STERO_Spacecraft
Figuring Firefox just deleted my cookies as it does on occasion, I went to login only to have the strange error claiming my account, pcnerd37 is invalid. Can you shed any light on what is going on? Thanks for your help!

Sincerely,

Jeremy “pcnerd37” Bray

Digg’s Response:

Thanks for getting in touch with us at Digg.com regarding your account.

Your account was reported to us for abusive activity in comments. Specifically, spamming Digg comments with your blog “Global Geek News has a great blog post about this story, www.globalgeeknews.com/blog”

As explicitly stated in the Digg.com Terms of Service located at http://digg.com/tos section 5.1 USER CONDUCT:

5.1 By way of example, and not as a limitation, you agree not to use the Services: to abuse, harass, threaten, impersonate or intimidate other Digg users;
Also, note that in our Terms of Service, we reserve the right to, “Digg may remove any Content and Digg accounts at any time for any reason (including, but not limited to, upon receipt of claims or allegations from third parties or authorities relating to such Content), or for no reason at all.”

We are willing to unban your account once we receive notification from you that you have reviewed the Digg.com Terms of Service and re-affirm your agreement to those terms.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us should you have any further questions.

Thank you,

-The Digg Support Team.

Ok, so I screwed up in two ways on the linking, not only did it not link but I apparently forgot to link to the direct article, but with the story remaining the top post on the blog, the main blog link will still take them to the right story.

Digg Support Team,

I have reviewed your terms of service, which I have always agreed to, and find the complaint without merit. The link which I failed to copy correctly, leaving off the part to the direct article (oops), was for more information on the post in which the comment was left. As a service to my fellow Digg users, I attempted to post a link to a blog post where more information on the dugg story could be found. It was not intended in any way to be “spam”. If you want to get real technical about it, since I left off the http://, it was not even hyperlinked in the comments.

The Terms of Service section you quoted me seems to lack application here as I was not trying to abuse, harass, threaten, impersonate or intimidate other digg users. I was merely trying to give them a link for more information on the story which I believe to be in the spirit of Digg. Furthermore, I find actions taking against me were overkill. The appropriate response would be to delete the post and send a warning email, not delete or ban the account. Banning would be understandable if it was a case of repeated “abuse”. I would suggest it is time to review your policies for interacting with loyal Digg users.

Also, in the interest of full disclosure, I will be podcasting and blogging about this experience on Global Geek News.

Sincerely,
Jeremy “pcnerd37” Bray

Digg needs to better define the terms such as “abuse” that it uses in its terms of service to help avoid confusion. Everything else here is fairly self explanatory.

Digg’s Response:

Hi Jeremy,

In addition to section 5.1 on the Terms of Use, we would also like to specifically direct your attention to section 5.7 which states that you agree not to use the Services:

to submit stories or comments linking to affiliate programs, multi-level marketing schemes, *sites/blogs repurposing existing stories* (source hops), or off-topic content;

Also, the Digg FAQ directly addresses this policy as well:

Is it ok to put my website link as a signature in comments?
No, it is not okay to advertise anything of any kind in the comments section. We ask that, as a story commenter, you keep your comments on-topic to the story you’re currently on. Any irrelevant links, spam, etc. could result in an account ban for the offending user.

-Digg Support

Digg is trying to pull relevant policies out of its butt, but they aren’t doing a very good job as shown in my response email.

Digg Support,

Thanks for your response. As far as your Section 5.7, had I posted the correct link that I meant to (again, oops), It would clearly not be repurposing the story any more than the Digg story which was just a repurposing of a release from Cisco. In regards to your FAQ, there are two main things. First, It states IRRELEVANT links! The intended link, which I will include was not irrelevant. Second, asking and requiring are two different things. Asking implies a courtesy, not a necessity. If you are going to quote it, please reword it to say what you mean. Last, I noticed you completely avoided the issue about how you deal with these situations and Digg users. I find this very curious as most companies that care about their users would have a clear and consumer centric policy when it comes to dealing with users. It is best to keep in mind that it is the users that keep you in business and relations with them should be as plesant as possible. If you look at product surveys, people believe that a large part of product satisfaction is customer service, something that Digg needs to work on. The Townhalls are a great step in the right direction but not enough to create a great user experience with the company.

Again, I would like to reiterate that I have no problem with your terms of service other than some poor wording, but attempting to scew it to a situation it does not apply is simply childish. I would like to give you the opportunity to publicly address these issues, especially how you deal with users on your site on the Global Geek News podcast. I do not have an exact time yet, but I will be bringing up these issues and believe it is only fair and in everyones best interest if I invite a representative of Digg onto the show to state their case and join in on the discussion. If you would be interested, let me know and I will set everything up.

Here is the link to the story that I meant to put in the comment but didnt realize until after the edit period was over that the link was incorrect: http://globalgeeknews.com/blog/?p=39

Sincerely,

Jeremy “pcnerd37” Bray

They seem to be having a hard time explaining themselves so I give them the opportunity to explain themselves and have a civilized discussion on my podcast. As it appears in the end, they don’t have enough interest to respond to that request. Thy didn’t respond after this email ripping into them, so I figured its time to email them to see what is going on.

Digg Support,

What am I to assume from the fact that you did not return my last email? I have stated I have no problem with your terms of service, yet I am still banned. Why? Unless I hear otherwise, I will assume your lack of a response means that you realized you have screwed up but aren’t willing to admit it. When it becomes apparent that this email conversation is over, that is when I will post my blog about this experience. My offer allowing somebody from Digg to come on the podcast to discuss various issues including its policies for interacting with users and how it defines its terms of service is still open. We typically record live on Thursdays if somebody would be interested in joining us. I finalize all show guests by Wednesday night, so you have until then to make arrangements to be on the podcast if you choose. Whether or not you are there, this will be discussed and I feel it is better for digg to be upfront and deal with this issue in an intelligent and civilized manner. If you choose not to take that path, I wish you luck with the bad publicity that results from the podcast and blog. I look forward to futher communications to resolve this issue in a way that can satisfy both parties.

Sincerely,
Jeremy “pcnerd37” Bray

I again ask Digg to have somebody on the podcast to talk about these issues but they still don’t respond to the idea.

Digg’s Response:

Hello Jeremy,

Sorry we didn’t get back t you sooner. We have unbanned your account. Please note, however, that your account will remain under review, and any violation of Digg’s Terms of Service may result in a permanent ban of your account.

For more information, please see http://digg.com/faq and http://digg.com/tos.

–Digg Support

Getting unbanned is a partial victory. Since this was the last email they sent to me, I have no idea how long I will will “remain under review.” There are still many other issues that need addressed but at least I can now Digg stories and leave comments (Not that I couldn’t as I do have multiple accounts).

Digg Support,

Thanks for getting back to me. I greatly appreciate being unbanned from my favorite social news website. How long will my account remain under review? All of my points from my previous two emails still stand including my invitation to be on my podcast. Thanks again!

Sincerely,
Jeremy “pcnerd37” Bray

That is basically everything that has transpired as of this time as it appears they don’t want to email me back or appear on the podcast.  There are still some major issues here, mainly revolving around how Digg interacts with its users.  Banning users with no warning and only giving the error “Invalid Account” is not how to deal with users.  If that wasn’t bad enough, their pathetic attempts to hide behind their “Terms of Service” and “FAQ” is laughable.  Unless there is a huge demand, I will reserve further comment for the next Global Geek News podcast since this is already an extremely long post.  If anybody from Digg reads this, the invitation to be on the podcast is still open but you don’t have much time to respond!  While I am not yet calling for a boycott of digg as I am still a loyal Digg fan, I will say becareful and when you have to deal with Digg, demand a higher level of customer relations than this pathic thing they have now!

Stay tuned for the podcast where I will talk about this in greater detail!