It would seem that the people behind Digg have finally gotten the idea that things were going terribly off the tracks for them.  The sudden change in its Chief Executive Officer, followed very quickly by two rather major announcements in regards to how the site works makes one think the company knew it had some problems, and they needed to be fixed as soon as possible.

Jay Adelson, Digg’s CEO of nearly five years, announced he was stepping down from the position on April 4th.  Kevin Rose, the founder of the site, was announced as his replacement, and by April 5th he was announcing some changes that quickly reversed two of Mr. Adelson’s more controversial decisions: killing off the much loathed Digg Bar, and unbanning all sites that had been removed from the service.

kevin roseDue to the speed with which these two policies were reversed leads one to believe they may have been a point of contention in the company, or at least between Mr. Rose and Mr. Adelson.

The banning of sites was never really an official one beyond sites that were distributing malware and viruses, but it did seem to bleed over into sites that some felt were “gaming” the system.  Filters are being applied that will keep out sites that distribute viruses and that violate the Digg Terms of Service (ToS), but beyond that, all sites will be reinstated when the new version of Digg launches.

As for the Digg Bar, while it was a great boon for Digg’s page views, it was seen as a way by content owners for Digg to steal their traffic.  Mr. Rose didn’t hide his feelings about the Digg Bar in his blog post:

Framing content with an iFrame is bad for the Internet. It causes confusion when bookmarking, breaks w/iFrame busters, and has no ability to communicate with the lower frame (if you browse away from a story, the old digg [sic] count still persists). It’s an inconsistent/wonky user experience, and I’m happy to say we are killing it when we launch the new Digg.

If you don’t understand the concept, essentially when you visited a site from Digg with the Digg Bar turned on, the site was displayed inside of a frame, and Digg picked up another page view, but the site being displayed did not get one.  It was controversial from the moment it launched, and the company didn’t do anything to change the system despite outcries from sites, so some sites simply stopped promoting Digg and replaced those buttons with Twitter buttons.

Considering Mr. Rose was only in his post as CEO for about 24 hours before these changes were announced suggest this was something that had been eating at him.  Did he and Mr. Adelson argue over it?  Who knows, but the official word on Adelson’s departure was that he wanted to explore new business ventures, but that could possibly just be a nice way of saying, “his services were no longer needed.”

There is no word on if Mr. Rose may assume the CEO role permanently, or if he is merely an acting interim replacement.  If it’s a temporary one, he sure didn’t waste any time getting the things done he wanted to do.  If he takes the role for a longer period, it makes you wonder what else he might have up his sleeve.

What are your theories on the major staff and policy changes at Digg?