Then came a series of articles from an exuberant young writer about two prominent companies well known among tech blog readers. While his first article was clearly speculative and interesting and not unreasonable, subsequent articles in the series (there were four) took the writer increasingly farther out on a limb. I protested the red alerting of the last one entirely, but — and this is an important point — even as a site owner, I don't have control over everything that happens related to the site. It was red alerted, some people voted for it, and because it involved two popular companies, lots of people completely unrelated to the site also voted for it. All four of these stories made it to the front page, infuriating many people.
I should stop here and make sure that people understand that nothing we did was or is against the Terms of Service at Digg. We never created fake accounts, we never voted using other people's accounts, we never did anything but vote for articles we liked. I'm personally a Digg user anyway, and read and voted for lots of articles that had nothing to do with Blogcritics, but some people didn't. That's their choice, and again, not against the rules then or now. Whenever you allow voting, you will eventually attract "voting blocs," and while we weren't the most organized or consistent of blocs when compared to, say, Congressional caucuses, we did tend to vote in groups.
Here is where things get interesting: People assumed the worst - not Kevin Rose, not Digg staffers, but commenters and readers: Digg users. They accused the writer of those articles of attempted stock manipulation, prompting him to add disclaimers to the articles that he didn't stand to profit in any way and owned no stock in any of the companies involved. Many people refused to believe him even then.
Digg users generally misunderstood the function of Blogcritics.org as an online magazine with more than 1200 writers, and seemed to believe that Blogcritics was the personal blog of the writer of those articles. Digg users noticed some of the same names showing up among the first twenty or so diggs on each of the four articles and assumed that zombie accounts were being used (they weren't), and that the votes were fraudulent (they weren't). And here's the important part: they acted. They reported the articles as Lame and Inaccurate and Spam and any number of other things.