How to get yourself a Digg-like site

7 Feb 2010 Ferado

I wouldn't even waste time trying to mimic Digg. This post was for the old design, style. I haven't paid attention to Digg in years.

Michael Barton tells you how to get a Digg-like site

I like the concept of Digg. It helps free up the information so more people can find it. If you don’t know what Digg is, please go and check out Digg right now. Please comeback or you’ll miss out on what I have to say.

In this article I’m going to tell you how you’re going to create your Digg-like site, I’m going to give you some examples of Digg sites that are out there, and then I’m going to give you my contact information in case you want to get started and need my help.

Let’s get started because there is a lot of competition out there and we don’t want to miss out on our opportunity now do we?

Getting Started

To build your Digg-like site you’re going to have 3 options on how you’re going to do it. You can start from scratch by using PHP, .NET, Python and even Java. I recommend PHP because you have more developers at your disposal that have experience working with community driven sites. PHP is the de facto standard and I challenge anyone to prove me wrong. The second way you can create your Digg-like site is by using a framework or CMS. I prefer to use Drupal, but there are other frameworks out there like CakePHP, Code Igniter, and Zend just to name a few. The third option you have is to use a pre-made script like Pligg.

Option 1: Do it from scratch

I really do not recommend this approach so I’m going to go over it as quickly as possible. The main reason I don’t recommend this approach is that what happens when someone else needs to take over the code base? It’s a mess to take over someone’s code base, especially one that was glued together with scripts from here, scripts from there. If you want the best bang for you buck – don’t build your Digg-like site from scratch. You’ll thank me later.

Alright, you made a bad decision and you’re building your site from scratch. I’m not going to tell you how to architect your code since that will take a small book and something no one wants to read. But what I’ll do is point you to some libraries that you can plug together to get the result you want. And sadly, it does require using a framework. You don’t have a year to get your site up so doing it 100% in PHP is not an option. Okay, so now you’re probably saying, well, .NET can do everything with just .NET. And I say to you – .NET is a framework – so you’re kind of cheating the “building it from scratch” concept anyway.

Here are the PHP libraries you’re going to need:

  • Zend Framework – You’re going to use this to pull in the page content and parse it out. Look up the Zend Http client, mail client, session client, database interface, etc. You can do most of everything by putting together code with this.
  • Smarty – You’re going to want to use Smarty for your template engine. I think Zend has one but Smarty is easier to pick up and use.

Sadly, I think “doing it from scratch” turned into a “doing it with the Zend framework.”

Option 2: Use a framework

I think this is the best approach to building your Digg-like site because using a framework saves you time, it’s customizable, and it allows you to hand the code over to the next developer that takes over your work or your current teams’ work. You don’t want something that takes forever to build, is hard to customize, and isn’t legible to anyone but yourself, do you? I don’t think so.

These are a few of the Frameworks that you can use to build yourself a Digg-like site:

  • Visit Drupal.orgDrupal
    The best and most powerful community-driven CMS around. The contributed modules section of Drupal is bigger than any I have ever seen. See for yourself.
  • Visti cakePHP.orgCakePHP
    CakePHP makes it insanely easy to develop web applications. It handles the “model” layer of the Model-View-Controller design pattern better than any other PHP Framework out there. Only thing missing is built-in search.
  • Visit ZendZend Framework
    This was a blessing from Zend, for them to release this framework to the public. They’ve given PHP everything needed to complete any type of application.

Of course there are more frameworks out there, but in my opinion – there are way too many frameworks to choose from. There are so many that even I get confused on what one to use sometimes. That’s why I’ve made a stand and I’m ignoring all the B.S. out there. I’m picking my favorites and I’m rallying behind them. You should do the same.

Option 3: Use a pre-made script

It seems like there is a script for everything these days – Digg cloning is no exception. There are several scripts out there to choose from. Here are the ones I recommend:

  • Visit PliggPligg
    By far the best choice for a pre-made script. Pligg is a CMS with lots of features you’ll love, like a module system, groups, and private messaging.
  • Visit PHPDugPHPDug
    This has a simple to use html template. I’m only giving this one a mention because it’s better than some of the other ones out there that I want you to stay away from. Use this, but only if you must.
  • Visit GrabTheMicGrabTheMic
    This is an Open Source Script written in Ruby on Rails. I feel dirty even telling you about it, but I needed a few good scripts, and sadly, this is one of them.

Of course there is a Digg clone written in Drupal called Drigg. I haven’t tried it but the demo site for it is broken, which isn’t very helpful. Regardless, you can probably get away using Drigg to help you get started with your customized version built in Drupal.

Digg-like Sites

A blog would not be complete without showing you what some of your competitors are doing. Some of them are doing some good things, some are doing bad things. Take the ideas you like and ignore the garbage that is out there. Here are some Digg-like sites for you to take a look at:

  • Visit Video BomVideo Bomb
    A social bookmarking site for video built with Ruby on Rails.
  • Visit
    A directory of links. Same idea as Digg, isn’t it?
  • Visit Pligg Design GalleryPligg Design Gallery
    This is the most comprehensive list of Digg clone sites you’re going to find. They’re all built using Pligg too.

There you have it. If you have one you want me to showcase, just let me know.

Need Help?

I’m a Freelance Web Developer and I have experience working with this type of stuff. Not only that, you just read my blog about it :) Feel free to contact me and we’ll figure something out together. You may also use my contact form to get a hold of me.


As with everything in life, there is more than one way to do something. Digg cloning is no exception. Hopefully I’ve helped direct you in the best path for you business. I’ve told you to stay away from building something from scratch. I’ve told you about a few of the frameworks you would use if you were to build yourself a custom solution. And I’ve given you links to the best Digg-like scripts out there. Hopefully you know what to do now.

I’ll give you a little hint – TAKE ACTION!

11 comments on “How to get yourself a Digg-like site

  1. Pingback:Tweets that mention How to get yourself a Digg-like site | Michael Barton --

  2. Michael Barton

    What do you mean by “much spam”? Pligg uses reCAPTCHA to prevent SPAM. I haven’t used the hosted solution, nor would I recommend using a hosted solution. Web hosting is dirt cheap nowadays.

    The thing I don’t like about Hotaru CMS is that it was founded June 18, 2009. It’s way too young for my tastes. I’m playing with it and if I like it and I think it’s good enough, I’ll list it above.

    By the way, thanks for the comment. If you have anything else to say, comment back.

  3. Nick

    I think you underestimate how much of a problem spam is for social bookmarking sites. ReCaptcha is easily broken by which is an option in the AutoPligg script that many “seo professionals” use to mass-spam thousands of sites at a time. Those that don’t pay for the decaptcher service have to manually fill in each captcha, but that only takes a few seconds and is worth it for people getting paid to do so. Browse the SEO section of any freelance site and you’ll find hundreds of people offering services to get you better Google rankings, and the easiest way to get backlinks is by submitting posts to social bookmarking sites, even if you have to register and submit each link manually.

    It’s for this reason that there are so few established Digg-style sites out there. Pligg started in 2005, but in all these years, very few sites using it have come to anything. had to close its submission form over New Year because their 20-odd moderators wouldn’t be around to bury the spam, and has had to go invite-only.

    Those sites that have lasted have only done so because the site admin has worked incredibly hard to block the spam. Pligg isn’t the only bookmarking platform affected, but since it’s the biggest, it’s naturally the biggest target. Search Google for Pligg lists and it’s easy to understand why we get hammered by spam – more so than any WordPress admin could imagine.

    Having been a victim of Pligg spam since 2007, Hotaru CMS is armed to the teeth with anti-spam features.

    Incidentally, although we started in June 2009, we actually go back to 2007. It was Pligg’s darkest hour when their lead developer and a few other members forked Pligg into Social Web CMS. One year later we agreed to rewrite it from scratch as Hotaru CMS.

    Thanks for giving Hotaru a go. Since your comment, we have come out of beta and have over 50 plugins already – all free (which I think is what Terukazu was getting at when he said Pligg charge for modules).

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  5. Lee Davis

    This is just too coincidental. I’m the admin/dev of a “digg-like” site built as the result of an intense search using the “digg clone script” query. A script by the name of “Hit (Beta1)” – please don’t ask, because I haven’t been able to locate the download link anywhere since I found it in 2006, and downloaded two copies for future development – made me fall in love with it for it’s simplicity in design and construction. I managed to rebuild it to my own needs with PDO (PHP Data Objects) as well as grafting in both original and other open-source coding to create the current membership site model as it currently exists now. At the moment, I’m trying to figure out how to echo the database rows with the info the way that the new Digg homepage is setup physically. Will take some more doing, but, then again, I didn’t build the initial code framework, so I shouldn’t have problems tweakling it. I have to honestly say that I WISH I was getting spam as that’d indicate traffic and site usage (lol!), but I’d rather create the momentum myself initially so as to build a dedicated, committed community like Digg has had to help them comeback after their need for the current redesign (slick…and that’s what I need to bite – LOL!).

  6. SilayTambayan

    The commotions above where incredibly hot issues. I am also planning to make a digg like site. I tried pligg but only few themes and modules were available. They charge too much for a basic module that wordpress were giving it for free.