English, Department of


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A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: English, Under the Supervision of Professor Stephen Ramsay. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2011
Copyright 2011 Paul H. Miller


Over the past few years, collaborative rating sites, such as Netflix, Digg and Stumble, have become increasingly prevalent sites for users to find trending content. I used various data mining techniques to study Digg, a social news site, to examine the influence of content on popularity. What influence does content have on popularity, and what influence does content have on users’ decisions? Overwhelmingly, prior studies have consistently shown that predicting popularity based on content is difficult and maybe even inherently impossible. The same submission can have multiple outcomes and content neither determines popularity, nor individual user decisions. My results show that content does not determine popularity, but it does influence and limit these outcomes.

Adviser: Stephen Ramsay