- I'm not really saying that uber-blog Kotaku is the only outlet that's ever done this, but I'm going to have to talk you all through this one, and I'm hoping for some further understanding of the sloppiness of Digg, 'citizen journalism', and over-sensationalizing on the Net.

We're starting with Dean Takahashi's new piece on the Xbox 360 Elite, which he debuted yesterday on his San Jose Mercury News blog. Though this isn't the crux of the problem, there's even an interesting twist on this part - I believe that Dean originally posted this with 'Exclusive' in the title (see the blog URL), but changed it after some commenter complaints, such as from 'David': "Sorry, but how is this “exclusive?'’ Game Informer and Engadget both reported this days ago with the same type of anonymous sourcing."

Takahashi's comments in response to David are fair: "You are correct that Game Informer and Engadget have reported this, and I should have mentioned them. Engadget in particular has a lot of detail. We’ve added our own independent sourcing and analysis, including the detail on the chip cost reduction schedule that no one has talked about." I guess - Dean is a smart guy, but this piece does feel a bit weak, considering I have a copy of Game Informer in my hands also announcing the Elite. But still - it includes a couple more details, and the Xbox 360 Elite is a bit more official now. So fair enough.

Anyhow, the next thing that happens is that Brian Crecente posts about Dean's comments on Kotaku - basically with a link and an extra paragraph of commentary: "I suspect that this new model will hit in April, with official word coming as early as next week. I also wouldn't be surprised that if consumer interest shifted to the newer model, that Microsoft drops the price on their current models by this holiday season." Don't have a big issue with this - people may click through to Dean, Kotaku is in part (like GSW!) a linklog after all, etc.

But here's the bit that gets my goat. A certain 'Bippy101' submitted Kotaku's version of the story to Digg, with a simply incorrect version of the story: 'Xbox 360 Elite with IPTV announcement coming next week... The new Xbox 360 Elite will be announced next week with a bigger harddrive, smaller chip, HDMI and IPTV.' This factually worded statement is not true - Brian has posited that the announcement might be next week - and indeed it might, but he's not even citing sources at this point. And the IPTV bit is kinda not Elite-specific.

What's doubly unfortunate is that the specific 'Digg It' button for this dodgily worded story has been embedded in the Kotaku story to help promote the hits further. C'mon, Kotaku-ites - what about reporting a story that someone else has reported (with one extra paragraph of commentary!) gives you the right to try to get a front page Digg for it? I consider that pretty iffy.

Now, I don't know who 'Bippy101' is - guess he could be someone completely random. But judging by the user's Digg history, I'm presuming that it's a single or composite Gawker Media staffer - and interestingly, most of its submitted stories make it to the front page, presumably exactly because they are embedded in Kotaku stories after they are submitted. (Not saying it's a secret, just extrapolating.)

Actually, most of the time, these Bippy101 frontpaged stories are original Kotaku reporting - such as the 'Reign Over Me' movie interview. But there are some other ones in there which I honestly would feel guilty about submitting to Digg - like the Gears Of War movie announcement, which is just a paragraph and a link to Variety. You can absolutely submit things from your own outlet to Digg - we also do it from time to time - but IMHO, it should be your own original reporting, otherwise the dilution of information just discourages first-hand reporting.

If these rules aren't held to, what happens? Let's take a look at the 'recently frontpaged' list on Digg game news to find out. I'm not saying that all of these are submitted by the site themselves - we've had a couple of frontpage Diggs that were re-reported stories, put forward by third parties, but up there right now are things like a QJ.net piece that's just summarizing Gizmodo, a fake official confirmation for Katamari Damacy Wii, or YouNewb summarizing a GameSpot piece. I could go on - and you may recall that I have before. But I firmly believe that major sites should be leading the way, and this is a bit of a mis-step, This is _THE_ new frontline for journalism and journalistic ethics, and I'm surprised more people aren't talking about it and thinking about it.