Mob Rule, 2007 Style

The “serious” blogosphere has become infested by lefty kids, and to survive, it needs adult supervision.

The theoretically attractive Digg mechanism has been subverted:

The idea behind an ostensibly non-partisan site like is that people submit links to interesting things, and other people rate the links, so that interesting stuff gets more votes and rises to the top.

But at Digg, this utopian web fantasy has turned into rule by kids.

Case in point, our post today about the ACLU’s newest attempt to get Islamist spokesman Tariq Ramadan into the US: Digg – ACLU: US Can’t Bar Terrorism Supporters.

As soon as this post was “made popular” (received enough votes to get listed on the front page), leftist Digg readers swarmed all over it, clicking the “bury” button like busy little progressive beavers. They also voted against almost every supporting comment, so that they disappeared from the list.

A review of the comments reveals the censors are lefty kids, perhaps illustrating the maxim that anyone who isn’t a socialist in their college days has no heart. But the effect is that using Digg is the equivalent to trying to conduct a serious political debate while surrounded by self-obsessed teenagers.

YouTube has been similarly subverted (the lefty Google management doesn’t help either). It’s taken down political comment that’s normal in the MSM, for example here and here, while promoting fascist propaganda, for example here.

So the blogosphere suffers from its strengths – it’s free (so you can’t keep kids out with subscription fees), and its open to every idiot with access to a PC.

There is an answer – alternatives to YouTube, Digg etc with adult supervision. That doesn’t come free, but without it, political discourse is ruled by the uneducated mob.


4 Responses to Mob Rule, 2007 Style

  1. yet another rice alum says:

    “political discourse is ruled by the uneducated mob”.

    And that was the reason the writers of the US constitution (and James Madison, in particular) constructed the US as a democratic republic.

    As a result, the US is a combination of democratic (small d) populism that distrusts elites, but which depends on the elites to govern it, where “govern” implies more than just the running of the government, it also includes the other mainstays of society.

    While there is structural bias towards groups in any society, what ultimately makes the US different is that the bars to entering the “elite” are more internal to the person than external.

  2. YARA

    Good point – perhaps I should have said overeducated mob.

    The finding that crowds are more sensible than elites has a worthy history – Machiavelli says so in The Prince. And James Surowiecki in The Wisdom Of Crowds provides a respectable theoretical basis.

    But until the last few years, crowds were physical – you could see who was saying what & form a judgment on their wisdom & veracity. And they were representative of the informal social structure of the community.

    In contrast, the crowds in YouTube and Digg are anonymous and skewed towards a narrow demographic. That’s because of the engineering choices these services have made.

    I think they can do better.

  3. yet another rice alum says:


    I was actually agreeing w/you. I think what is occurring here is not “crowd” behavior, but “mob” behavior and your original analysis was spot on. (no, really, i’m from the States).

    What is always interesting is the transition from a crowd to a mob. I sort of seems like the de-coherence of the wave function to me and the transition from the classical domain to the quantum domain.

  4. YARA

    Good point – crowds are a complexes of conversations – verbal and non-verbal – while mobs act like a single entity.

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