Herd Mentality

by derek on October 25, 2007 · 14 comments

Have you ever stopped to look at examples of herd mentality in every day life?
Lately the blogosphere has produced a few examples of herd mentality – BlogRush and WidgetBucks.
You might recall not too long ago that there were quite a few bloggers, including well-known “A-list” bloggers, promoting BlogRush. As smaller bloggers witnessed the big guns touting this new service, there was a fear-based reaction that caused them to sign up as well to avoid missing out on the next great thing.
Shortly thereafter, I posted about how some of those same “A-list” bloggers were making excuses for BlogRush when the traffic did not live up to expectations. While I still see the widget on a few blogs, I no longer hear too many people talking about it.
WidgetBucks offered another example of herd mentality. When the service launched I encountered numerous blogs that were promoting the service and pimping their affiliate link. The peer pressure was running wild again as people did not want to miss the opportunity to get in early.
Recently there has been a lot of discussion about how WidgetBucks has been bitch-slapped by Google, possibly because they are hiding text links behind their widget. There is speculation that some of the blogs that have experienced recent page rank drops could be a result of running WidgetBucks on their site.
What about outside of the blogosphere?
There are plenty of examples of herd mentality in life outside of the Interweb. Part of the inspiration behind this post came to me as I was watching game two if the World Series. As the Rockies were down to their last out in the top of the 9th inning, Red Sox fans came to their feet and were cheering wildly with each pitch. When the pitch was a strike, everyone erupted together. When the pitch was a ball, everyone sighed in unison.
Whether it be blogging or life in general, I really try not to follow the herd mentality. When I saw BlogRush getting crazy publicity, I decided to stay away from it partly because I felt it was being over-hyped. With the recent suspicions about WidgetBucks, I am happy that I decided to let that train leave the station without me.
I’m sure there are plenty of examples where I have fallen into the herd mentality but I encourage all of you to set your own direction.
Don’t follow the herd!

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Nick October 26, 2007 at 12:36 am

Unfortunately, I must admit that I followed the “herd” on both of those movements, but I have always had plans to get rid of blogrush, they just keep making me wait. As far as widgetbucks goes, I’ll very likely be eliminating that one as well, I just have to further develop an idea I am formulating.

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Damien Riley October 26, 2007 at 2:16 am

I’m on the tumblelog bandwagon these days. Really exciting. Actually it’s a lot harder than it looks. In a way it feels like a black sheep thing to do . . . but it seems like everything gets the herd mentality after a time. great post as always.

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Male Pattern Baldness October 26, 2007 at 3:17 am

I totally agree with you Derek. But somehow we all follow the herd mentality many a times unknowingly. But I will surely try to change myself and stop following the herd.

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????? (Jason) October 26, 2007 at 7:49 am

I’ve never heard of WidgetBucks, but I don’t think I’ll be adding much more to my site in the near term. I still have the BlogRush widget on my site, but that’s going to come off this weekend. 8 referrals in 35 days … I get more traffic from PayPerPost advertisers 😕

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Courtney TURTLE October 26, 2007 at 9:41 am

It’s tough for a young blogger to stand up and take action that is contrary to what the big boys are advocating. But I think history will show that it is the risk takers that in hind sight are proven to be more successful in the long run.

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Rose October 26, 2007 at 12:45 pm

A very important letter. I would like to think I march to the beat of my own drum.

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derek October 27, 2007 at 12:36 am

@Nick :: It sounds like WidgetBucks is trying to make some improvements but it is still not the right thing for me. Hope to hear more about your idea.
@Damien :: Thanks for the feedback. I’ve been following your tumblelog and it looks pretty good so far. It has been a lot of work just keeping up to date on the posts so I can only imagine the work involved on your end. 🙂
@MPB :: You’re right that we all fall into the herd mentality from time to time. There is nothing wrong with that either but you just cannot be afraid to set your own course as well.
@Jason :: Your experience with BlogRush sounds very similar to what I have heard from other bloggers.
@Turtle :: Absolutely! I can relate to the desire as a young blogger to follow in the footsteps of the big boys in hopes of catching their attention. But you really need to stay true to yourself and let the chips fall where they may.
@Rose :: That is one thing I have always liked about your site is that you are not afraid to speak your mind about something, even if it may not align with the popular opinion. Keep it up!

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Markk October 29, 2007 at 11:05 am

Derek, firstly you’re right about herd mentality but it will never go away so long as there’s a continuous flow of newbies coming into blogging. I usually make my own judgmental decisions on whether to go forward or hang back. Sometimes you’ve to take risk (in accord with Courtney) because, I believe, it’s better than sitting on the fence and missing the boat. After all, you can always pull back if you sense something is not right. In this respect, I consider it as not following the crowd – it’s just your own judgmental decision.
Although WidgetBucks has got some bad press, I don’t have any problem with the widgets. I’m getting good CTR and the numbers are adding up. The recent PageRank updates didn’t affect my widget-laden blogs in a negative way. In fact, all my blogs’ PRs have gone up. I don’t carry the BlogRush widget. And it’s being proven that TLA was bad medicine for a number of blogs. So where do we draw the line, sometimes things happen in strange ways.

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derek October 29, 2007 at 9:31 pm

The continuous flow of newbies certainly contributes to the herd mentality. You make a great distinction in that it is important to make your own judgmental decisions and at times that will align you with the “herd” even though that may not be your intention.
Thanks for sharing your feedback!

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Frank C October 30, 2007 at 7:48 pm

We now have ScratchBack TopSpot. Everybody jump on board now! 🙂

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Acai Berry August 18, 2008 at 5:02 pm

Thanks to the article, it make the life of a seo/link building easier and make the commenter come back again and again. I searched for a while to find the right answer to my questions!

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