Drigg (the pligg alternative) vs. Pligg: why should people switch?

Short URL: http://fsmsh.com/2828


As some of you already know, I am the main developer for Drigg. I donated probably more than 1000 hours of my life to the Drigg project, because I believed in it. After reviewing existing CMSs out there, I believe that Drigg is the best system available today for people who want to create Digg-like sites (but, in fact, when people deploy Drigg they get fully functional Drupal sites...!). You can see my contributions to Drigg daily. One more programmer has joined Drigg, which is going right ahead.

However, Drigg's community is still smaller than Pligg, its main competitor. Why?

I am not sure about the answer. If you look at the raw number, if you search for "Drigg" in Google you get 86000 pages; if you search for Pligg, you get nearly 6 million pages. Mind you, Pligg is a very unique name, whereas Drigg's results are helped by the town of Drigg. A lot of pages pointing to Pligg are people looking for Pligg experts, able to solve quirks and otherwise inexplicable issues. Drigg, on the other hand, is extremely stable and well engineered. Sometimes, I wonder if I should add quirks and random problems just to give users a reason to get together and work on something?

Drigg's forums are sort-of active, whereas Pligg's are... well, incredibly active. There is a strong community behind Pligg, which are effectively pushing the project and getting it to do the unimaginable. There are threads of people trying to get Pligg to share its user base with Wordpress, managing spam properly, and many other features that Pligg is lacking. Again, Drigg comes with Drupal, which also comes with fantastic (and integrated) blogging and forum systems. Extra Drupal modules can do pretty much anything you might possibly want--and more. This makes me wonder if Drigg's lack of limitations is... ironically limiting it.

Also, Drigg came late. There was big news about Pligg coming out; people described it as the "Digg killer" (Kevin Rose would have been quite amused by that). Drigg came out quietly. I began serious development on the 1st of October; it was then released "properly" on the 1st of January (that's out of tons of hard work, rather than me being a genius, if you must know!). There has been no "bombshell" when it was released. People are quietly discovering it, and migrating from Pligg. Now, in April 2008, it's reaching what I feel could be "version 1.0"--again, no bit announcement nor fanfare. Maybe, people just didn't notice.

The other issue is that the "Drupal" crowd seems to be very different to the "Pligg crowd". Pligg users seem to be more prone to applying "mods"--small hacks to the code to accomplish specific tasks. Drupal users are very, very resistant to changing Drupal's core, or even running patched versions of contributed modules. There are good reasons for this; the main one is that running software with "mods" makes upgrades nightmare-ish, and can create security issues. So, I guess Drigg will attract a different crowd--maybe a minority?

Should people migrate from Pligg to Drigg? Well, I would--and in fact, I did: that's why I wrote Drigg! FSDaily, "the" free software news hub where people decide what goes to the front page, used to be based on Pligg before Drigg came into existence. However, I am Drigg's author after all--of course I'd migrate. More rationally, I am sure there are a lot of people out there who have build their sites around Pligg, and who wouldn't find it beneficial--in terms of the amount of work required--to switch to Drigg. It would be another CMS to learn from scratch (and Drupal is rather big), another theme to create, and so on. Here are the reasons why I think migration is a good idea:

  • Drigg's development has been steady.
  • Drigg has a top-notch bug management system.
  • Drigg's codebase is extremely good. The most recent version was all about rearranging Drigg's code in smaller, more manageable submodules.
  • Drigg is based on Drupal, which comes with tons of free user-contributed modules.
  • Drigg's vitality is guaranteed even if its main developer (myself) left the project.
  • Theming for Drigg is easy, and themes are completely separate from the codebase.
  • Drigg's database is well thought-out.
  • Drigg will always, always remain free. It's released under the GPL, and will always be.

However, as I said, these reasons might not be enough to convince people out there to switch. For example, people switching to Pligg will have to:

  • Rewrite their themes.
  • Learn Drupal.
  • Cross their fingers with the Drupal-To-Pligg import.
  • Find themselves in a different community, where "mods" are frowned upon.
  • Find themselves in a much smaller community.

Will Drigg manage to gain substantial market share? I don't know. However, the real answer is "It doesn't matter". Drigg has reached the critical point where a large number of people are using it, and are reporting bugs, quirks and problems (which are very quickly fixed).

Plus, choice is good in free software. Right?



Ryan Cartwright's picture

Plus, choice is good in free software. Right?

Well I would agree wouldn't I? ;o)

Free software alternatives: What good is choice if you don't use it

Seriously - a well thought out piece. In the one I link to above I talk about people thoughtlessly picking the first option they've heard of and certainly that could be the case here. I note where you mention the fanfare accompanying Pligg releases and the comparative quiet when Drigg "slips out".

This will be a contributory factor in why one project gets chosen over another. In the end we can but hope that people will do proper research when picking.

I've used neither so I can't really comment on which is best - other than sucking up to the editor of course :o) But one statement in your post rings out and would be a factor if I ever need to choose:

Drigg will always, always remain free. It’s released under the GPL, and will always be.


Paul Gaskin's picture

I think Drigg is the best user-moderated-forum software available. In my opinion, Drigg is also the most relevant and useful application of Jeff Eaton's Voting API. I've sought software like Drigg for years.

You can follow the evolution of the user-moderated forum software from SlashCode to Scoop, to Pligg and now Drigg. Drigg is the most advanced, hands down.

I would say that with Free Software Magazine, Free Software Daily and Drigg that it's clear that Tony Mobily is an entrepreneur to watch.

Choosing "Free Software" rather than "Open Source" branding was a critically important choice.

Choosing to build a user-moderated forum was a great idea. Choosing to base it on Drupal was another great idea.

Now you just need to get the attention of a few bloggers who have a big following. I have a few in mind...

Tony Mobily's picture


Thank you for the kind words :-D
I do need to point out, though, that I don't own FSDaily! I still help them a lot, and they are in fact a _major_ sponsor for Drigg. But it's not mine. I'm "just" Drigg and FSM :-D



Paul Gaskin's picture

branding in a market crowded by "open source" branded publications and projects.

Originally, there was free software, and the standards have always remained high for the Free Software community. The good work has continued even while free software has been over-shadowed by the corporate-assimilated "open source" brand and it's advocates.

Drigg is software I'll be using in the future. I have an environmentalism and sustainable-technology group-blog I'm working on.

I other ideas for it as well. I know some guys who are widely-read bloggers who are activists for civil liberties and social responsibility.

I'd like to see the "blogosphere" rejuvenated by the availability of this new software and the OpenID integration of Drupal.

The earliest and largest blogs have consolidated almost all the traffic, forming something of a blogger aristocracy. Now disruptive technology is required to give new voices a chance to be heard.

Terry Hancock's picture

It's a mistake to measure the success of free software projects by their "market share". Market share, as such, is only useful if you need to make money by selling software-related services.

What you need is a sufficiently large and motivated development community around your project (or to put it another way, a sufficiently large effective bazaar size). That's what keeps it growing and improving. And if you were mainly creating the project so that you (and similarly motivated people) can use it, then that's all you need.

By comparison, the number of "end users" is much less important.

As you point out, you may have less traffic on help lists, simply because your product is lower maintenance!

The goal of a free software project should be "independence", not "domination". You are not harmed by other people's success.

Ryan Cartwright's picture

I agree with Terry. There is a parallel to be drawn with the non-profit sector, specifically charities, here.

Charities don't have competitors in the way businesses understand them. Whilst it's possible for charities to overlap with each other, they generally have enough diversity in their purpose to co-exist without conflict. The purpose of a charity is - usually - to address a specific set of needs. Sometimes those needs are a sub-set of another charity's but that still works. The purpose of a business is to generate profit and often that will involve beating the competition. Where one business addresses a subset of another's market you will still find the two in conflict.

Some free software projects can be seen to be similar to charities in that they don't have to compete with each other in the way that proprietary software products would. The good ones can co-exist because they address slightly different needs or the same need with different approaches. The smart ones recognise a need for them to co-exist and don't waste time saying how much worse the "opposition" is. The really smart ones concentrate on producing good software not grabbing headlines. That looks like where Drigg has been until now and - for your sanity - it should probably continue that way.

There's nothing wrong with a project wanting to be the best scratch for a particular itch or gaining a strong user base but neither really translate into "gaining market share". There is as we know a world of difference between "best" and "most-popular" and when a free software project focuses on the number of users I find it tends to lose touch with the reason it started.

Paul Gaskin's picture

Having lots of end users is good. That can lead to a larger developer community. It can also bring in donations and consulting income.

Also, in a finite market, you can't let competition open up too large of a lead in market share or there won't be room for your project to grow.

In this case, Tony is in good position. He should enjoy an advantage among developers and contributors because he made a better design choice - building on top of Drupal.

He does need to get the word out that his software is the best for Digg-style websites (user-moderated forums).

Directly comparing Drigg to Pligg may not be the best idea for marketing but it can't be avoided that both the Drigg and Pligg projects are entrepreneurial efforts offering similar functionality in the same market.

Sorry to be so disagreeable.

Tony Mobily's picture


Thank you for the fantastic insights, people.
I guess you're right. And yes, for my sanity, Drigg shouldn't grow "too" big --that would be two big projects to look after!

Let's see what happens with Drigg. I am happy with it anyway :-D I would love to see more developers joining in -- drigg is a very easy project to actually work on as a team.

Now that I upgraded to version 24, which breaks a few things, we'll see how many people will complain in the forums! No wait, I wrote the upgrade scripts so that they fix everything, and even warn you about methods that changed names... oh well! :-D


Paul Gaskin's picture

As popular as Digg.com is, it is not the best user-moderated forum for user interaction.

Scoop as it implemented at DailyKos is the best I know of for user-interaction but the source code is kept secret, and regardless, the public version of scoop is not much fun for developers and site admin.

There are two main problems with Digg.com:

1) You could have a very controversial story. 105 people give positive feedback. 100 people give negative feedback. I would only see +5. It would be better to display 105/100. I think there may be an option for that in Drigg, but it should be default.

2) You can't see a list of names and whether they rated a story up or down in each comment. With Scoop, you see who rated any given comment up or down which protects the site from the equivalent of ballot stuffing. You can say "Hey, you guys always vote in a group and you always agree. What gives?"

3) The lists of people who've given feedback should be hidden divs on the same page as the content and all the comments.

In my opinion, Digg is not the standard-bearer for the user-moderated forum. It's DailyKos which can be and has been kept proprietary because of the SaaS loophole.

When I use Drigg, I'm going to be hacking it to behave like that private version of Scoop, because when people can see how everyone rated every comment, the flame-wars are much juicier. Also, I probably don't want it to look like Digg.com, but that's easy enough to change.

The reason Drigg is the best in my opinion is because it's well designed and Drupal-based. It has the content recommendation and role-promotion actions. It is as close as I can get to what I want at this point, so it's a great starting point.

Drigg is also great for developers and site administrators, while the public version of Scoop is lacking the features of the private DailyKos version, and not fun for developers and administrators.

Since I don't consider the Digg website or the Pligg project to be very interactive, I have to agree with Terry, that the success of Pligg doesn't really affect Drigg which has the potential to be much more disruptive since it's well-designed and Drupal-based.

Finally, socially-liberal political bloggers seem like the best end-user market to me because people want something like the proprietary version of Scoop at DailyKos. You can see the software which is similar but not very good at these sites:


open-source-software's picture

I run a social news site about open source software:


It's based on Pligg, but also integrated with DokuWiki and Joomla. I'd be very interested to know if there are any successful Drigg sites out there. I have several sites built on Joomla, but Drigg might be a good enough reason for me to learn a new CMS and start looking into Drupal.

Author information

Tony Mobily's picture


Tony is the founder and the Editor In Chief of Free Software Magazine