Digg revolt

Pretty interesting community story taking place on Digg today (as much as I can gather, after Andre showed me):

  • user makes a post on digg linking to the encryption key that is used to crack HD DVD protection
  • story is pulled, user is banned, then story goes up about banning user (people speculate it’s because HD DVD was an advertiser) update: Ed Felten has a good post about general efforts to take all references to the key off the web
  • Two to three thousand people get annoyed/pissed, and start posting and digging all sorts of stories that mention the encryption key in seemingly innocuous ways.
  • This continues for the rest of the day, with the entire front page of the site filled with stories leaking the crack

It’s always fascinating when a community (or a country, or a religion, or a group of any size) decides to spontaneously revolt, and it’s even more interesting when it happens in such a short period of time in a distributed medium like the internet. There are loads of stories like this on other sites and in multiplayer online games but I’ve never seen it happen on digg before. I’m curious how many people it took to come up with a reaction and the idea to post the key in other ways — I can see a general mob voting mentality would be easy to gather steam once the posts were up since many people wanted a way to vent their frustration — but I wonder if it was just a dozen or two users that started creating the posts that quickly got to the front page. And finally, what was their method of communication? In-site messaging? IM?

Anyway, I’m certainly a late comer to this story but I’d love to see a wrap-up of it several days from now, when all the details can be figured out.

8 Comments

  • Purely as a “community art” thing, this is obviously entertaining (I do love the lolcats version of the code), but ethically, nobody else is concerned about this? I mean, Digg users are supposed to care about Digg on some level; did they even think for a second about whether or not a service they supposedly appreciate could get sued into oblivion purely in order to satisfy their desire to get stuff for free?
    Yes, censorship in a user-moderated community is troubling, but I get the feeling that the drive behind the revolt was less about that and more about feeling entitled to copyrighted material. I hate DRM as much as the next guy, but if I thought even a quarter of the people who trade DRM-cracking materials would even *consider* buying DRM-free media content, I’d be less concerned. But I don’t think they would.
    I know how cranky that sounds, but I’m getting more and more disturbed by the “But I’m ENTITLED” mentality that’s settling in among geeks.

  • It’s a revolt yes, but it’s also a sort of community art project. It’s hard not to join in the fun.

  • Looks like Digg has listened to the masses: http://blog.digg.com/?p=74

  • I guess the MPAA/AACS/whoever “owns” this key will just have to accept they’ve lost, whether they were right or not.
    There are now thousands of hits when searching for the key, and even the .com domains for the key (with and without dashes) have already been registered.

  • Lucky for you, the folks on the blue who get riled up over litigious celebrity post deletions number far less than 1000.

  • It came to me via text message via Twitter. Now that I think about it, I run an RSS feed of Twitter on my blog so now it’s there too.

  • @matt: I communicated with friends via IM.
    @chris: It wasn’t about entitlement. At least not for me. 99% of the time I buy my music and movie . If not, it’s because it’s so rare I can’t buy it. I have the capability to rip DVDs and burn them, but it’s too much effort. I’d rather be reading or designing. Besides, I have a dual-tuner DVR with no expiration flags on any content. I don’t need or want to steal.
    For me this was about the twofold message that digg was sending. Like a big fly swatter, the employees at digg were cutting through a swath of users without explanation (though we could easily surmise as to why). Digg corporate could’ve saved themselves a lot of trouble by posting a notice below their header in the first place. But they waited until we diggers were in a furor and crippling their servers to do so.
    Like I said, the stupid code won’t do much for me. I don’t buy HD-DVD and don’t have anything that’d run it. And of course there are laws we’re supposed to abide by, but we’ve all just had about enough of the MPAA and RIAA and the DMCA is outdated and inappropriate for the times. They’ve got the government in their pockets and use brute force and twisted logic to criminalize innocent people. The only way to change things is through dissent (the true American way) because politicians are too corrupt, ignorant, or inept to be our voice.
    Oh, and no one should be so deluded as to think the key will be effective for long. The point really is, why DRM the hell out of everything to begin with? It’s the digital equivalent of the tight security measures our government takes to fight a war on terror. Over content. And money. Not actual LIVES. It’s overkill, ineffective, and it needs to stop.

  • Lucky for you the folks on the blue who get riled up over litigious celebrity post deletions number far less than 1000..

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