2008-08-21

Digg destroys accounts without warning or investigation

This guy is much more handsome in reality, I mangled the image in the interests of parody. I don't believe that Kevin is malevolent or even a slightly retarded moral vacuum. Thank you, motionblur, for the creative commons license, and this derivative image is also under the same license.Imagine trying to log into your Digg account and you read something like:
An unknown fatal exception has occurred
Whoa! Something blew up. If you think you reached this error in error please do not hesitate to contact support.
Interesting. Better contact the aforementioned support. They got back to me very quickly with:
Your account was removed for mass comment spam. Due to the nature and severity of abuse, your account will not be reinstated. This decision is final and irreversible. --Digg Support
My reaction was "What?! I didn't ... oh wait." I'll explain what probably happened later.

I was feeling particularly calm after I worked out what went sour. Being kicked from Digg is actually not a bad thing as I was wasting a lot of time trying to educate the redneck fools that seem to be flooding into Digg. The quality of the commenters has degenerated significantly over the years and I guess I was ready for retirement from the scene.

3 years work gone

However I had been a Digg member for almost three years and had written many many postings, some almost essay responses which take a while to create, finding references and making the argument simple to follow. I often make notes and keep drafts in text files so I do have a number of the larger comments preserved. So my direct response to their deletion message was:
That's sad. Would it be possible that I could somehow acquire all my comments as there are many thoughtful essays and some witty comments that I did not take the time to collect.
Along with my summation of why I thought they might have deleted my account, expressing my high opinion of the ideals of Digg and thanking them for the speed of their response. Again, a very quick response:
Sorry, but all comments and history from your account have been removed. --Digg Support
Ugh! That's really sad. Fine, nothing lasts forever.

Why

Why was I booted from Digg? Well I can only give my best guess. Digg Support says comment spam. Technically correct. However investigation by an intelligent being might have come to a different decision than instant irrevocable deletion with no appeal.

Like most people, I have become interested in the environment. My vague standpoint was that we should probably look after the environment. Climate change has been made controversial and when I saw an article claiming that "Global Warming Had Been Over For Eight Years" I felt kind of relieved. But the article in The Australian seemed a little weak. So I started tracking down sources, including the NASA scientist upon whose work this statement was made. I used my research credentials and managed to get a reply directly from the scientist. The article had it all wrong according to him. Fine. I then looked at the interviewed scientist of the article, and found she was tightly involved with corporations, very anti-environment, actively advocating destruction of any environment for development and other things like whale hunting. Easy to find this all on her blog. Her scientific references were very limited, having fewer publications than I had achieved before I even became an academic. The journalist who interviewed her was a right wing political appointment, the newspaper journalist who republished the interview was also a right wing shonk. Both journalists failed to do even the most basic of fact checking. The newspaper article was quoted far and wide, so I took it upon myself to present the evidence where ever I was allowed. Some media organisations pulled their reprinting of the article.

This started me thinking about what was going on. I began looking at the other climate change junk that was spreading around Digg. I noticed the same people making the same arguments. A little investigation showed that their arguments were incorrect or badly flawed. I started responding to the climate change deniers with responses that included references to hopefully enlighten them or perhaps the plebeians who came after. I had a little more passion given my experience. I became aware of "Institutes" and "Think Tanks" that were heavily funded by carbon-profit industries to produce propaganda. I made connections with like minded individuals. I also started noting some dirty tactics that deniers were taking, such as finding articles that report on climate change and they would submit them to Digg with very derisive comments, which meant that nobody else could submit the article to Digg.

One particular imbecile was making an incredibly stupid argument. He would state it on any article on climate change, almost as soon as it appeared. I thought it odd at the time that he would always say the same thing but mix his words and sentences around. I had a standard reply that had links and references that directly refuted what he was saying. He was prolific so chasing down his terrible argument was quite a test.

My mistake was using the same response every time. Digg deemed this spam. I was banned. My alleged spam message:
@**** Completely incorrect. Read the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007, in chapter 9 alone there are over 50 pages referring to volcanic activity.
http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/ar4-wg1.htm
I sent one last email to Digg support.
I am now pretty sure you deleted my account in error. I found my comments saved in friend feed and still can't work out where you got spamming from, even given my handful of identical replies to ****.
That was nearly two weeks ago. I don't expect a response if the deletions are as irrevocable as they implied. I am somewhat relieved, as I no longer feel compelled to step on the misinformation spreaders as the task was becoming quite a chore and I am very busy with work.

I certainly have no desire to rejoin Digg: build a reputation, a library of links and a work of comments that can all be deleted instantly without warning.

The moral is BACKUP! If you have comments or submissions that you want to keep then you definitely cannot rely on Digg keeping them for you.