Digg still isn't telling the whole truth about its HD-DVD sponsorship

Digg CEO Jay Adelson has denied any direct connection between HD DVD and Digg, but evidence discovered by Texyt.com appears to contradict this. The HD DVD Promotion Group's sponsorship of his company, Revision3, “is no way connected to anything that's on Digg”, Adelson claimed in an interview.

However, Texyt.com has determined that it was Digg itself that accepted and displayed advertising from HD DVD, and not only Revision3's DiggNation site, as Adelson apparently claims. Please see our earlier story which first revealed the links between DiggNation, Revision3 and HD DVD for background information.

HD DVD ad on Digg

An HD DVD advert on Digg.com is clearly visible in this screenshot. These ads are published by the HD DVD Promotion Group, an industry body formed by the companies behind HD DVD to promote the standard.

digg_hd_dvd_banner_ad_wideThe screenshot was taken by a Digg user and is in fact linked to by a story on the Digg website which never reached the front page.

In a story pointing out that Digg was simultaneously displaying advertising for both the HD DVD and Blu Ray technologies, Digg user Splizxer linked to December 2006 screenshots hosted at Imageshack.us. The full Digg logo was added to the screenshot, as the original partially cropped it out. Furthermore, in another a story posted less than three months ago, another user, Digid, points out more HD DVD banner adverts on Digg.

No HD DVD link with Digg, Adelson claims

In an interview yesterday with Wired, Digg CEO Jay Adelson accepted that the DiggNation show on his Revision3 site had been sponsored by HD DVD, but he was either unaware or chose not to say that HD DVD advertising has appeared on Digg itself. In fact, he strongly implies that Digg has never carried such advertising.

“In the case of HD DVD being a sponsor on Revision3, if Revision3 takes a call from an agency that wants advertising space on DiggNation, it is no way connected to anything that’s on Digg.com,” he told Wired interviewer Adario Strange.


Note that this is an opinion story. Most of the news we publish here on Texyt is just straight reporting, not opinion, and we try to keep our own biases out of it as much as humanly possible. Under the 'rules' of that style of news reporting, we need to back up our statements with sourced evidence. So we're sometimes not able to publish conclusions that seem obvious to us, because they are based mostly on our own judgment or analysis, not reported from external sources.

In this case, however, I'm concerned that, if I don't express my own opinion very clearly, others will effectively put words into my mouth.

Source of Digg's troubles

I believe that what Digg has here is a legal and public relations problem – not an ethical or moral problem. I think it's unlikely that Jay Adelson or Kevin Rose were influenced by the sponsorship received from HD DVD when they made the decision to remove the HD-DVD code from Digg.

There are at least three fairly plausible arguments in Digg's favor. Firstly Digg takes advertising from many companies, HD DVD is just one of them. Secondly, Digg actually accepted advertising from both HD DVD and its competitor, Blu Ray – although the suspicious might argue that both organizations would support the blocking of DRM-defeating information like the HD DVD hex code. And of course, most obvious of all, Digg's eventual decision to actually publish the code itself will hardly sit well with these sponsors.

Instead it looks as if, under the pressure of a frightening legal threat that could scare off investors and potentially cost them their company, Digg's management made several poor decisions and failed to keep on top of a very difficult and rapidly unraveling situation.

PR Disaster

Digg's handling of this case has been a lesson in atrocious public relations management. With hindsight, it's now obvious that the decision to delete articles containing the HD DVD code was unwise, given the user generated nature of Digg.com – but this is an error that many of us would have made under the same difficult circumstances.

However, Digg turned this public relations crisis into a total implosion by failing to communicate clearly with its users, and even worse, attempting to block all discussion of its actions by deleting or burying dozens of stories and banning users en masse.

Breakdown in trust

The most lamentable part of the whole fiasco was not the initial blocking of HD DVD stories as a legal precaution, but Digg's apparent censoring of many other stories which merely criticized Digg's handling of the affair - without even mentioning or linking to the HD DVD code.

Further fuel was added to the fire by the company's inability to acknowledge its acceptance of HD DVD sponsorship. Unfortunately, as Adelson's latest comments show, this is a path along which Digg continues. While the truth is probably more benign, this gives the appearance of an extremely embarrassing conflict of interest.

Update: Also see our latest story: Digg readership doubled by HD DVD fiasco

I'm really disappointed in

I'm really disappointed in the Digg guys. They just don't seem to get it. There's a lot of people like me still angry at them, but all they have to do is just be honest and tell it like it is, and those people will come around.

That interview was a wash, really, because Jay didn't really answer those questions about the advert, do you notice that? It sounds like he's answered fully, but he didn't. I don't know if he was just forgetful, or what


its called targeted

its called targeted advertisement where code looks at the key words of articles anmd displays the ad that best matches it you moron

Not on Digg. They don't

Not on Digg. They don't just use straight AdSense... they are a Federated Media client... which means not just anybody can advertise on Digg. You have to pay a lot to be on there (minimum is $40,000+ I think).

@its called targeted

@its called targeted

You really don't know what you are talking about dumbass. These are not Adsense, which Digg normally carries. If you are a regular Digg user then you would know Digg does not carry very many banner ads of this sort.

Do you think the people who run the site would not have seen their OWN adverts??


who cares about them Next

who cares about them Next PLease!

lol targeted advertising at

lol targeted advertising at its best, Most people don't realize that most sites have Keyword targeted banners

too bad and truly

too bad and truly disappointing

its called targeted

its called targeted advertisement