Those of us who follow Digg have long known that Digg has long been susceptible to external gaming. While Digg's leader Kevin Rose has tried to keep this type of thing from happening, the company's biggest efforts to clean up its social bookmarking system have ended up vexing some of its biggest fans. In the meantime, as Digg Patriots has shown, Digg's popularity contest for stories remains easy to corrupt.
I strongly suspect, although I am not able to prove as Olson has, that other groups use similar techniques to ensure that stories about technologies they hate, like Linux, almost never become popular. In turn, this means far fewer people will ever see stories about Linux. Friends who also write regularly about Linux and open source tell me they see this happening.
In early 2009, new popular Linux stories would pop up every day or two on Digg. By mid-2010, Linux stories on Digg became popular only once every week or so. Why? Has everyone who once interested in Linux suddenly vanished? Have people stopped writing about Linux? I don't think so.
The only explanation I can come up with is that Linux stories are getting down-voted on a regular basis on Digg these days. Who's doing this? In whose best interest is it to make it appear that there's little interest in Linux? Might it be a company named Microsoft?
Microsoft's FUD war against Linux never ended. Microsoft's long-discredited patent claims against Linux still appear from time to time. Most recently, they've shown up in attacks against Android.
I doubt that Microsoft is doing this directly. But Microsoft has fans who are happy to attack Linux every chance they get.
For example, until we started stronger moderation of the Computerworld's blog comments, I could count on several anti-Linux trolls showing up within minutes. The story didn't need to have anything to do with Linux, and -- ta-da -- there would be several notes saying "Linux is awful. Why do you keep writing about this crap?"
Coincidence? I don't think so. I find it hard to believe that J. Random Person is immediately going to attack virtually every Linux story that appears. I find it easy to believe that Microsoft "fan boys," and yes they exist, are happy to spread the impression that Linux is awful and that its supporters are dumb.
Would these same people do their best to make sure that Linux is buried on social bookmarking sites like Digg, Reddit, and StumbleUpon? Why, yes, I believe they would. And, more to the point, I believe they have.