Is community news site Digg driven by users, or is there a secret conspiracy that determines what gets promoted to the front page?

This article appears in the August 06 issue of PC Advisor, available in all good newsagents now.

That was the question that concerned ForeverGeek.com recently.

On noticing a slightly odd pattern regarding the order in which users digged/dugg/voted for a couple of entries, contributor Macgyver posted a story on ForeverGeek entitled ‘Digg Army: Right in Line’.

The post ended: "Lo and behold, the first 16 diggs for each story were identical! If we remove [one user called] bribera from one of them, the first 19 diggs were identical for both stories. In fact, of the first 24 diggs, only two users varied for both stories.

"Hey, even Digg founder Kevin Rose is seen there. The one blog entry for each post was by the same person, too, but we can chalk that up to coincidence. Interpret as you want."

Then news reached the site owners that it was no longer possible to submit links from ForeverGeek to Digg. Macgyver posted a follow-up: "So we posted this and some people found it interesting. Over at the fellow geeky [blog] Binary Bonsai, reader Andreas Climent noted that submitting any URL from ForeverGeek to Digg was now impossible. We got banned from Digg."

But it wasn’t just ForeverGeek that was banned – some Digg users found themselves locked out of their accounts and stories disappearing from the logs.

Kevin Rose addressed the issues in a post on Digg’s blog: "The banning of ForeverGeek.com: aside from the dozens of user reports, several accounts were created to artificially inflate the digg count of their stories. When a single URL hits a threshold of reports, our standard procedure is to block that URL from submission. Again, mass fraud digging is in violation of our terms of service."

While ForeverGeek wasn’t responsible for the fake accounts, it looks like it was the victim of Digg’s attempts to prevent people playing the system to increase traffic to their websites.