Monday, November 27, 2006

Digg: Four things you can put in story descriptions besides, "Title says it all."

When I visit news aggregator Digg, there is a multitude of stories that have titles but no descriptions. Increasingly, users are submiting stories with nothing in the description field but, "Title says it all."

No. Really, no, the title doesn't say it all. Here are eight kinds of descriptinos you could add to give your story depth and a reason for visitors to actualy read your stories:

  1. Personal insight. How does the story relate to your life? What does the story mean to you? Have you had an experience that relates to what you're submitting? Does the link talk about an ordeal that everyone can relate to? If you're truly a human, surely you have an opinion about what you're submitting and a reason for why you're submitting it. God forbid you're linking to your blog and can't be bothered to say why your blog entry deserves to be Dugg. While there's nothing wrong with submitting one of your blog entries, you shouldn't expect to draw traffic to your unknown corner of the woods if the traffic has no incentive to come.

  2. A witty comment. Are you good at telling jokes? Do any obvious puns come to mind? Perhaps you can think of a play on words. Even if it's just a one-liner, readers will appreciate a good laugh. Remember to use humor for stories that are light-hearted or oddball or YouTube links. You wouldn't laugh at a funeral, would you?

  3. Summary of the story. What's the gist of the story? Think back to the fundamentals of writing essays in high school: Who, what, when, where, why, and possibly how. People will want to know the specifics once they know what's happening. Why is the story relevant to anyone? How does the story relate to other stories? What's the backstory? All or some of these can be answered by a concise summary.

  4. Highlights. What if you don't want to write a summary? What if you don't like summaries? If you're linking to an article or thesis, nobody will mind if you cut and paste a section of text from the source that best exemplifies what the story is about.

Let's sum up:You get 75 characters in the title and 350 in the description. You have over quadruple the room for a reason for people to click the link. Why are you submitting to Digg if you don't really have much to say about the story? People will - possibly justifiably - think your story is spam or the dreaded blogspam. The people who read Digg regularly aren't idiots. Write a description that says you aren't one. People's brains won't break if they read a few more words.

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