Digg: Brian Cuban Banned And Andrew Sorcini (Mr. Baby Man) Interrogated

Posted Sep 8, 2008

Mr. Baby Man
“I have never been paid to submit a story on digg” stated Andrew Sorcini, who is also known as Mr. Baby Man on Digg. Sorcini is the most powerful user on Digg. Sorcini joined Digg on December 27, 2005. Since then Sorcini Dugg 106,266 stories, commented on 2,052 stories, submitted 10,349 stories, made 2,848 stories popular, gained 11,095 fans, and had his profile viewed 262,813 times.

Today Sorcini was heavily scrutinized by the Digg community. The first story that popped up about Sorcini today was “MrBabyMan Reads So Fast” by Digg user hyperkill. Four hours after that story was made popular, another Digg submission critcized Sorcini’s ability to Digg 82 stories in 3 minutes. And then five hours after that story became popular, Digg user zakfitch submitted a popular article that stated “Please Ban MrBabyMan.”

What do you do when a community of people want you kicked out the social network you belong to? Do a live streaming video podcast with them to plead your innocence. Sorcini has a website called TheDrillDown. TheDrillDown is a video podcast that he hosts along with other power Digg users Muhammad Saleem and Reg “Zaibatsu” Saddler.

The video podcast that was broadcasted earlier tonight sounded like a crime interrogation. Digg users would ask Mr. Baby Man questions and he was asked to answer them honestly. The live video podcast interrogation took place on the site, UStream.TV. My computer was lagging and freezing up, but here are some of the excerpts I found most interesting:

1. “Have you ever gamed the system ever?” asked the interviewer. “Not that I’m aware of,” replied Sorcini.

2. “Do you ever feel like a slave to Digg?” asked the interviewer. “I think I’d be lying if I said no,” replied Sorcini.

3. “Why do you think people hate you?” asked the interviewer. “I don’t know, I don’t know… I think a lot of it is the success that people see,” replied Sorcini.

4. “If you were to tell Kevin and Jay to change one thing on Digg what would it be,” asked the interviewer. “Open up the site, open up transparency, let people see what’s going on and the other thing would be have some sort of forum that would allow the Digg community to communicate with the administration,” replied Sorcini.

Other major points that were asked was whether Sorcini used hacker scripts to make it easier to Digg stories. Sorcini replied that he was not aware of using any of the manipulating scripts that exist out there. Sorcini added that he Diggs stories fast by opening up lots of tabs on Firefox and that he has never accepted a payment for Digging or submitting a story in his life. Sorcini mentioned that he was not aware of the existence of any of the scripts until the Brian Cuban story came up. This brings me to the story of

Brian Cuban (formerly known as Digg user bcuban)
Brian Cuban, the brother of Mark Cuban was banned from Digg a couple of days ago. Cuban wrote the whole reasoning on why he was banned on his blog, but deleted the story just a few minutes before I published this post.[see comment #1]

After constantly sending shouts, adding friends, and trying to get people to Digg stories for his blog, Cuban’s breakthrough homepage story on Digg was “Why Ahtletes Go Broke.” This led to an ESPN and FOX News interview. Cuban was even offered to write for major publications.

Cuban admitted to using several scripts (I won’t mention which ones) on his blog. The scripts allowed him to Digg stories without even having to be at his computer. Shortly after using the scripts, Cuban received a ban letter from Digg. Below is the communication between Cuban and Digg administrators. I x’d out e-mail addresses of both parties so they won’t get spammed.

Hi from Digg.com,

We?re writing to let you know that your Digg.com account ?bcuban? has
been banned for using unauthorized scripts to Digg stories from portions
of the site where no Digg buttons are provided. Specifically, our logs
show high Digging rates and activity from
digg.com/users/bcuban/friends/shoutsin and digg.com/users/bcuban/friends/submissions.

Using scripts is in violation of the Digg Terms of Use (digg.com/tos).
For your reference, we?ve bolded the section of our Terms of Use you?ve
violated below???

We will remove the ban from your account under the following conditions:
you re-read and re-affirm the Digg Terms of Use (response via email) and
agree to stop using scripts of any kind on the Digg.com website
immediately.

– Digg Support Team

And below is the response that Cuban sent back to Digg:

To:
?xxxxxxx@digg.com?
Cc:
?brian.cuban@xxxxxxxxxx.com?
I was unaware such activity was prohibited. I have read and re-affirm the Digg TOS-i agree to not uses scripts or other prohibited means in using your service
Within 24 hours Digg re-activated my account and sent me the following email:
From:
?Digg Support?

Hi Brian,

Your bcuban account has been unbanned. Please note, however, that your
account will remain under review, and any violation of Digg?s Terms of
Service may result in a permanent ban of your account.

Cuban continued to use scripts that violate Digg’s policies and was banned again:

Hi Brian,

We?ve permanently banned your account ?bcuban? from Digg for continued Terms of Use violations. As you are aware, your account was initially banned on August 29, 2008 for violating the Digg TOU using a third party script to enable Digging from sections of the site where we do not provide Digg buttons (specifically from digg.com/users/bcuban/friends/submissions). On that same day you re-affirmed that Digg TOU and stated that you ?agree to not uses scripts or othere prohibited means in using your service?. However, our logs show an extremely high number of Diggs from your account which prompted us to further research your account activity. In that research, we learned you were Digging content from another script that enables Digging from the shouts they?ve received. As has been explained to you, using scripts to Digg content on Digg.com is a violation of our TOU.

Section 5.8 USER CONDUCT of the Digg TOU states:

with the exception of accessing RSS feeds, you will not use any robot, spider, scraper or other automated means to access the Site for any purpose without our express written permission. Additionally, you agree that you will not: (i) take any action that imposes, or may impose in our sole discretion an unreasonable or disproportionately large load on our infrastructure; (ii) interfere or attempt to interfere with the proper working of the Site or any activities conducted on the Site; or

(iii) bypass any measures we may use to prevent or restrict access to the Site;

Due to the nature of this violation, as well as the recent statement from you that you would not use scripts to Digg stories, we have elected to permanently ban your account. This decision is final and irreversible.

The moral of the story is that the Digg community is a self-regulating system and if any of the rules are bent, there will be repercussions. Even when Digg administrators deleted a story that contained the serial number for encrypting HD-DVDs and Blu-Ray Discs, Digg users came together and revolted. Digg is a news democracy machine. Respect the rules or get banned.