To scale at Digg they followed a set of practices very similar to those used at eBay. No joins, no foreign key constraints (to scale writes), primary key look-ups only, limited range queries, and joins were done in memory. When implementing the comment feature a 4,000 percent increase in performance was created by sorting in PHP instead of MySQL. All this effort required to make a relational database scale basically meant you were using a non-relational database anyway. So why not just use a non-relational database from the start?
[via High Scalability]