Digg VP of Engineering fired after version 4 troubles

With the launch of Digg 4, many users were not thrilled to say the least with the changes and bugs that arose after the upgrade. Digg users went as far as sabotaging the front page having all of the links redirect to Digg's rival, Reddit. Due to the intensity of the problems, Digg has decided to fire the VP of Engineering, John Quinn, who called for many of the changes that have now lead to unintended results.

Before Digg 4, the social news site used a MySQL database to manage the mass of data that Digg would receive. Now Digg uses the distributed database Cassandra which is suppose to be faster and scale better, however it was not tested thoroughly before launch, according to TechCrunch

John Quinn pushed for the switch over to Cassandra at Digg, offering it as a solution to the previous setup which was having trouble coping with all of the traffic the site encountered. Due to the switch, everyone at Digg is simply trying to focus on keeping the site up and functional, and there is no clear cut solution to fix the current issues.

As of now it is not clear who will step up, or come in to replace VP of Engineering position at Digg. Facebook and Twitter both use Cassandra for portions of their social networking sites, although neither has employed it on the large scale level that Digg did. 

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People who aren't liking the publisher sellout on Digg4 may like quippd, another social news site with more concessions to *users*.

Stories are wiki editable, so corrections can be made, and any one content producer won't dominate pages.

Check it out: http://quippd.com/

reidtheweed01 said,
A good company would have let him "resign".
No.. Those that mess up on a scale such as this should be fired.. You resign when it's a simple oversight, you get fired when you make bad calls.

Not a huge fan of the new version either. I could care less about the social networking bits (I'm anything but social), and the way it picked front-page items felt biased, to say the least. Hopefully they'll listen to their users.

Would it be considered bad form to Digg this article?

Xilo said,
You mean, you couldn't care less.

You're probably right, English isn't my first language. I couldn't care less about grammar police who feel the need to point out every little typo either. If I really cared, I'd hit up a spellchecker.

Jen Smith said,

You're probably right, English isn't my first language. I couldn't care less about grammar police who feel the need to point out every little typo either. If I really cared, I'd hit up a spellchecker.


Spellchecker doesn't check grammar. You know, just so you'd know.

Revision3 (the company that runs Digg) didn't announce anything, this is TechCrunch reporting that their sources say he was fired. If he didn't do his job and pushed it even though it clearly wasn't ready (everyone says the beta site was just as bad) then he deserves to get canned. If he told management about the problems but they pushed it anyways then management is to blame and he's a scapegoat. Either way we'll probably never know what happened.

The whole v4 design is terrible aside from the engineering problems and it was the design that caused the revolt. However, I think that the major flaw with the design (RSS flooding the front page) was a result of the engineering. I doubt that they ever intended for the front page to be de-democratized and there was a clear problem with the promotion algorithm not putting stories on the front page even though they had thousands of diggs vs the RSS feed stories always hitting the front page with only ~10 diggs. I believe wholeheartedly that they never intended for v4 to be this bad and will fix it, but I'm worried that too much damage was done and they may not recover.

Revision3 doesn't run Digg. They may share a building, have one or 2 of the same co-founders, and they may share board members, however Rev3 does not run Digg. They are 2 seperate companies that have a business relationship with each other (e.g. The Digg Reel & Diggnation pulls its videos/stories from Digg, Digg Dialog is produced and distributed by Rev3)

Damn, Rose sounded all cool about it on Diggnation, but he's clearly ****ed. Or less likely, this was just part of a broader reorg.

I stopped going to digg last year, when it became clear that they block any anti Obama content, and green light anything against Palin or any conservative. Couple that with the kiddie troll elements, and it just wasn't worth it. I went to other sites for tech news.

You sound like you described Alan Grayson's sheeple cronies.

Seriously, the left-leaning bent of Digg was becoming very apparent. I already wasn't looking at the site very much anymore (I sometimes went for a laugh), and with the buggy new interface I decided it was time to go.

Haven't checked out Reddit yet. May look.

That's nice - publicly announced that you FIRED this poor sod, rather than keeping it quiet and helping his chances of finding other employment...

No matter what the backend was, whoever authorized the new architecture's release before it had been properly tested should be fired. It's that simple.

If management forced the release over the objections of the software engineers, then management should be sacked, not the engineers.

BTW, I have heard rumors that most, if not all, of these major bugs existed in the beta and were clearly not addressed. Can any Digg beta testers confirm? I can't from firsthand knowledge.

It's just awful now, the posts are totally messed up and the comment count is barely in the double digits nowadays.

Shows how quickly a website can die >.<

Proven
Cassandra is in use at Digg, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Rackspace, Cloudkick, Cisco, SimpleGeo, Ooyala, OpenX, and more companies that have large, active data sets.

The Cassandra web page seems to have updated a little too early.

Digg v3 had its flaws, yes, but it was far and away superior to this new digg. I don't give two shoots about friends on digg, I go there for user-submitted news and comments. Digg is trying to be some weird perversion of Twitter mixed with a whole lot of other stuff that just doesn't seem to fit in anywhere. Looks like I'll be jumping on that Reddit train.

If only kevin rose could be fired... sadly though, someone had to take the blame that could be removed. Now lets see how things change for the "better"..... LOL

shakey said,
If only kevin rose could be fired... sadly though, someone had to take the blame that could be removed. Now lets see how things change for the "better"..... LOL
Kevin Rose already stepped down from CEO.

Glendi said,
Guess what, reddit also uses cassandra.

The main problem isn't Cassandra, per se. It's that they didn't test it out thoroughly enough before rolling out.

That, and the removal of the bury feature.

Sorry but the choice of database has nothing to do with the reason why users are abandoning the site in droves. The site may be buggy as hell but it doesn't matter if a position on the front page is available to the highest bidder and the comments system has had its heart ripped out.

MySQL's problem isn't that it won't scale, it's that there's no management tools to scale with it. If they wanted scalability and management, they should have gone Oracle or (god forbid!) SQL Server.

Oracle is the better choice given Digg's code structure, but it gets expensive fast.

They could hire me as the VP of Engineering, but I'm not cheap

Hercules said,
If they wanted scalability and management, they should have gone Oracle or (god forbid!) SQL Server.

What? no no... SQL Server is a solid database, and Oracle is losing a lot of ground to Microsoft because it costs way much and works at least just as well. You need to be running a nuclear power plant to benefit from Oracle expensive to configure fix and maintain databases.

Hercules said,
MySQL's problem isn't that it won't scale, it's that there's no management tools to scale with it. If they wanted scalability and management, they should have gone Oracle or (god forbid!) SQL Server.

Oracle is the better choice given Digg's code structure, but it gets expensive fast.

They could hire me as the VP of Engineering, but I'm not cheap

MySQL on Wikipedia scales quite well, and they seem to have made their own management tools/just done it themselves... So yes, there seems to me to be nothing wrong with MySQL or its scalability, just that some people are idiots...

revvo said,

What? no no... SQL Server is a solid database, and Oracle is losing a lot of ground to Microsoft because it costs way much and works at least just as well. You need to be running a nuclear power plant to benefit from Oracle expensive to configure fix and maintain databases.
I meant it tongue in cheek, I like SQL server just fine, just *nix junkies who think it's crap without much evidence to that point. I laugh at them

Vice said,
Sounds like he was the fall guy..
I actually agree, some of these decisions are design decisions that Kevin Rose has tried to sell on Leo Laporte's site and to the general public. People didn't sabotage the site because they didn't like the database, they sabotaged the site because it became clear that Digg's primary motivation now was to make money and use 'premium' content providers to that end.

In related news, I've removed my Digg homepage and replaced it with Reddit. While I was turned off by its ugly nature, it's actually far more usable than Digg, and to boot -- doesn't have the problem of power users and "friends" to get to the top of the listings.

Hercules said,
I actually agree, some of these decisions are design decisions that Kevin Rose has tried to sell on Leo Laporte's site and to the general public. People didn't sabotage the site because they didn't like the database, they sabotaged the site because it became clear that Digg's primary motivation now was to make money and use 'premium' content providers to that end.

In related news, I've removed my Digg homepage and replaced it with Reddit. While I was turned off by its ugly nature, it's actually far more usable than Digg, and to boot -- doesn't have the problem of power users and "friends" to get to the top of the listings.


Yeah I totally agreed. Digg was always one of my favorite sites, but v4 is a mess. The FP quality has taken a massive dive and is filled with spam from publishers. I switched to reddit.

Hercules said,
...they sabotaged the site because it became clear that Digg's primary motivation now was to make money...

Yes, how dare they want to make money. Shocking behavior.

TCLN Ryster said,

Yes, how dare they want to make money. Shocking behavior.

Making money is one thing, but half the stories are actually ads. It's a bit over done. I haven't even tried V4 yet. I stopped when they started mixing the ads with stories.

ViperAFK said,
I switched to reddit.

Same here! I actually had a Reddit account along with Digg, except now, I replaced my Digg RSS with the Reddit RSS.

TCLN Ryster said,

Yes, how dare they want to make money. Shocking behavior.

The problem was that the money making aspect was breaking the functionality of the product they were trying to sell.