I won't lie, Digg became a complete dive long before Kevin Rose killed it with the Version 4 update. Getting a submission frontpaged was near-impossible and the only way to actually get your link to the frontpage was either to game the system through vote manipulation, be a power user with loads of fanboys who vote up your content or pay a power user to submit stuff to Digg.
The site also had far more stringent rules in terms of NSFW stuff, a complete lack of formatting in comments and no self-posts or ability to create further subcategories or subcommunities. Reddit and Snapzu are certainly better alternatives in that regard.
I know exactly what you mean by assholes trying to get cheap laughs though, but that was generally in the large or default subs, which I tend to avoid.