Digg's MrBabyMan racks up 4,000th front-page submission

Andrew Sorcini's record stands alone among those who like their news crowd-approved

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This is an inside-baseball post written primarily for users of the social news-sharing Web site Digg, so those of you uninterested in such matters are free to move about the cabin.

About a half-hour ago, Digg's most famous Digger -- the indefatigable and often resented Andrew Sorcini -- hoisted his 4,000th Digg submission onto the front page of the Web site that he has in many ways come to define. This means that since Sorcini joined Digg on Dec. 27, 2005, he has been averaging just shy of three front-page stories per day each and every day ... for four years. (Hey, it took Pete Rose 24 seasons to accumulate his 4,256 hits.)

In case you don't know, submissions reach the Digg front page through a group voting system and underlying algorithm that is both mysterious, and in the view of many participants, highly susceptible to domination by well connected "power Diggers" such as Sorcini. MrBabyMan has submitted for consideration more than 14,000 individual items -- news stories, photographs, cartoons, videos and assorted 'Net nonsense -- or roughly 10 a day (although lately his submission rate seems to have become considerably less prolific).

Those who participate in Digg, whether they are friends or critics of Sorcini, can't help but recognize the enormity (not to mention the insanity) of his accomplishments. Here's how he described his routine in a January 2008 interview with Social Media Today:

I spend a couple hours each weekday morning looking for great stories and digging up friends' stories, and about 3 hours at night after putting my daughter to bed (while catching up on TV, etc). Occasionally, I'll also try to sneak a submission or two during the day, when work is slow.

How else to put MrBabyMan's 4,000th in perspective? Well, No. 2 on the all-time Digg list is Muhammad Saleem (msaleem) with 2,676 front-page submissions, a mere two-thirds as many as the master.

One more point of comparison: I am relatively active on Digg myself -- ranked 115th or so among regular users -- yet I have a mere 127 front-page submissions to my credit. (I'm known on Digg as NAHSrocketeer75 in honor of my high school and graduating class; yes I'm that old.)

Four thousand is a lot.

So what exactly was that 4,000th front-pager? It was a powerfully disturbing photo essay from Boston.com headlined "Kazakhstan's radioactive legacy."

Congratulations, MrBabyMan.

(Update: Just got off the phone with Sorcini, who says he hadn't been aware that No. 4,000 was on the horizon until I tweeted him about it yesterday. Here's a bit of what he had to say:

On reaching the milestone: "I don't really keep track ... I'm not shooting for a particular goal; the goal is to keep going."

On Digg's efforts to raise the bar for attaining the front page: "It's more challenging than it used to be because of changes that they've made to the algorithm. It's definitely not as easy for 'a power Digger' to make the front."

On what is needed to make the front: "It does take a level of applied perseverance. There are two rules of success: You have to have good content; now more than ever content matters. And, you need people to up-vote that content" early in the process.

On what motivates him to keep Digging: "I still get a thrill out of seeing stories that I like reach the front page.")

(Update 2: Just dugg up this interesting Slate profile of Sorcini from earlier this year: "Why MrBabyMan is the king of all social media.")

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