How many Diggs do you need to make the homepage? 1 August, 2006 — Stuart Brown

..and when's the best weekday and time to submit that hot new story?

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Recently, I set up a script that logged the average number of 'Diggs' a story on the frontpage of Digg.com has - purely out of curiosity, and to discover any trends in digging activity.

So, what did I discover? Well, the overall average number of Diggs per story on the homepage (technology stories) is 512 diggs - you might not need that many to get onto the front page - this is an average figure - but it does indicate the sort of activity you'd need to get there.

The highest average number of Diggs? 979 average diggs per story, on a Tuesday at 1am BST (+1 UTC). The lowest? 390 average diggs per story on a Friday (UK) lunchtime, 12pm BST (+1 UTC).

The graphs below show average activity by hour, and by weekday.

Average front page Diggs, by hour

average diggs by hour

The hourly graph shows us the trends in usage - the times are in my local timezone, BST (British Summer Time, or 1 hour ahead of UTC). There are two principal 'rises' in Digg activity - this will indicate periods of higher activity. Between 4pm and 8pm BST, there is a rise in activity - possibly an aggregate of UK evening surfing and US post-lunchtime browsing. The peak of activity occurs at around 6-7am BST, or 9pm - midnight in the US.

Average front page Diggs, by weekday

average diggs by weekday

This graph indicates that mid-week activity is strongest, along with Saturdays (which will also cover US Friday evening), while Thursday evening through Friday daytime (US) are surprisingly quiet. This could be due to a number of factors - an increase in submissions at this time may 'dilute' the Digg count for the stories that break the front page.

Conclusions

These figures do show a number of interesting trends, but in order to interpret them we need to make a number of assumptions.

Given this, we can state that the best time to submit a story would be mid-week (Tuesday/Wednesday) at a time shortly before a rise in average Diggs (indicating a rise in activity).

From the graphs above, we can see two principal rises - on from about 1500 BST, another at about 0300 BST. The first coincides with UK evening browsing, and US lunchtime, and is probably suited more to stories with a UK bias. The second peak corresponds with US evening browsing, and is generally larger than the initial rise - the 3am rise is best for a primarily US-based audience.

From the initial submission, a story will languish in the 'new/upcoming' section of Digg for an hour or two, and if it gains sufficient Diggs, will only after this waiting period arrive on the homepage. Therefore, the best time to submit a story would be around 2 hours prior to a rise in Diggs.

So, to give a story the best chance of making it, submitting it at around 1400 BST (0800 EDT, 0700 CDT) or 0100 BST (1900 EDT, 1800 EDT) should put the story in the right place at the right time.

Caveats