Digg seems to have been in the process of developing some of these features just as this was happening, so for those of us who had been Digg users for a while and had never seen submissions disappear before, it appeared to be censorship. When Digg staff investigated and saw widely divergent IP addresses and voting patterns and so on, they quickly realized that nothing untoward had been happening, but Digg users didn't believe the public statements of Kevin Rose and Jay Edelson and others when they stated that there had been no violation of Digg's TOS. And as a result of the negative reports on the article, the article disappeared. I wasn't too concerned about that article, because I wished nobody had ever submitted in the first place, but I was very concerned about what happened next.
Shortly after that, someone submitted another Blogcritics article and sent out a Red Alert email, and some of the usual crowd read the article and liked it enough to vote for it. While Digg staffers considered the previous issue resolved and felt we had done no wrong, Digg users felt differently, and reported the article, the site, and all users voting for it, getting each banned.
Please note, I believe Kevin Rose when he assured me that this was all automatic and all driven by the users of the site. He seemed genuinely sympathetic to our plight, and un-banned the site and all users upon request, but stated that because Digg is a community-driven site, our challenge was to convince Digg readers not to report us and trigger the automatic bans.
That remains our challenge today, and since I wasn't particularly impressed by the perceptiveness of many Digg users then, I'm not sure I have a much higher opinion today. Many, even most, Digg users are extremely intelligent people, but it only takes a few people reporting an article, site, or user to trigger a ban.
So I certainly don't know that there was no fraudulent voting going on with the articles from A List Apart, and I understand that the lock-step order of the votes raises alarms, but it is easily for me to believe that it is coincidence. Unlikely? Sure, but that's the nature of coincidences.
It is also easy for me to believe that the banning of ForeverGeek.com and all users who voted for stories from ForeverGeek.com was driven by users and not Digg staff. I didn't believe it at first when it happened to me, either, but subsequent conversations with Kevin Rose changed my mind. A certain unknown number of reports results in an article being "buried." A certain unknown number of articles from the same site being "buried" results in that site's URL being banned. Users who have voted for a certain unknown number of "buried" articles (and perhaps haven't for a certain unknown number of balancing un-buried articles) are automatically banned. And so on.