The Problem With My (and Your) Feed Reader Is...

We read the same stuff! Andrew Goodman published a deeply insightful post about the race toward the bottom effect and circle jerk phenomena that is inherent to every web community, and baked into Google's PageRank.

I have looked back at some of my post titles and saw that they were an exact copy of titles from articles I had read a month prior to writing mine. Not intentional theft, just a side effect of reading too few channels, in too narrow of a range, for far too long.

There is more value in learning how we think than in reading the news from 20 different angles, only to write it from the 21st. Virgin markets and virgin publishing formats await our keyboards, or so I a blog...somewhere.

Published: July 30, 2007 by Aaron Wall in marketing


July 30, 2007 - 11:14am

I love the use of the term circle jerk here, when you are starting a blog, low readership can easily kill your enthusiasm, so some of the only ways to get comments / readers is to suck up to more established blogs by commenting often or join different forum communities and suck up to them that way to get your self known...My new fav blog term "circle jerk"...if you comment on my blog I will so comment on yours!!! Love it.

July 30, 2007 - 12:03pm

The problem you mention highlights one of the difficulties with pop-culture: lack of diversity. Even if you have a distinct "nature", if you have the same "nurture" as everybody else, your uniqueness can end up being minimized.

Style works very similarly. There is some ingenuity in creating a fresh new style. But once a style becomes established, everybody ends up wearing the same clothes.

Although there are most probably virgin markets and virgin publishing formats, they will most probably become cliche in a relatively short amount of time.

The only way to stop the cycle is to get out of your circle. There is an internet for each language.

July 30, 2007 - 2:41pm

Don't you think this is more of an effect of blogs just recycling the same industry news we see week in week out? I keep a fairly trim 40 or so SEO blogs on my reader list.

I used to have a lot more, but as Aaron points out I'd get the same junk over and over. I could read the title and know what the post was going to be about.

If you're starting up a new blog, your dooming yourself by recycling these same ideas. People aren't going to read your blog if posts the same instance. Aaron's brand/authority/voice etc.. makes his opinion more valuable in the eyes of readers.

Sit down, spend an hour researching and a couple of hours writing and come up with a post that is either different (hard - most things have been done) or rather, do something much better than it's been done before.

My very first blog post attracted over 100 subscribers, because I tried to do something better than anyone else had done it.

July 30, 2007 - 3:01pm

There are positives to the circle jerking (I find this term very funny).

In my case, SEO is pretty new topic of interest for me. I've had a website for only a year now, and noticed that it was never getting in the Search Engines the way I wanted it to. Then I started researching SEO and found great blogs like this one to help me get a better grasp on the topic.

I guess what I'm trying to say is I suppose there are tons of people just like me out there reading about this stuff for the first time. And the way Blog software is setup, it becomes human nature to just read the most recent posts. To make a long story short, I think it's good to recycle important material, because it highlights important details for the newbies. For the old timers, the material could be improved upon or some new twist added I suppose...

July 30, 2007 - 5:03pm

Hi Aaron,

I think I said the same thing in my comments here before. I have 70 blogs in my reader. Most of them are focused on SEO and SEM. After a while, everyone sounds the same. That is probably the reason i come here more regularly more than other blogs. You do cover new non-standard topics that which I enjoy reading for a change.


July 30, 2007 - 8:24pm

Great post. What you say is very true and humans are all subject to subliminal suggestions. What we think is original, we probably saw or read a while ago. Keep up the great writing.

July 30, 2007 - 9:19pm

The reasons why it's a circle jerk are two-fold:

The incestuous nature of information in the fields of "problogging" (I'm really growing to hate that term, because it's come to define "mediocre info dissemination in my mind), plus SEO/SEM topics

and the inability of some people to realize that the content of most blog posts has already been said quite well by someone else...and it's pure puffery for me to believe that, because they've restated it, it somehow has added value.

Just because I'm in the mood to throw out a stat, I will suggest that 90% of blog posts are a complete waste...or at least a no-value-added contribution (which is still a waste...why not just link to the original post, unless you have something valuable to add?).

(I'll see your "circle jerk"...and raise you "incestuous" and "dissemination")

July 30, 2007 - 9:38pm


I read SEOBook because I find the posts are usually a higher quality and have more orginality compared to the rest of my feeds.

I read almost every post on this site now, there are other bloggers that are posting on the same topic, and they post 5 to 10 times a day. I usually end up removing them from Google Reader, because their posts are almost always worthless, and I have to read alot to get any value out of it.

It's definately a Quality over Quantity thing for me.

It's the same thing with anything perhaps. There are millions of websites in my niche. But so few are good. Like one out of every 10,000.

So few are put together from a human standpoint rather than an advertising or SEO perspective. The ones I remember are the ones that people put hard work and thought into and offered me something.

I keep this at the forefront whenever I am developing new content.

You can tell within 5 seconds of visiting a site, whether the person actually cares about the content, and the thought put into it, and I think this is where the value comes in. Motive has a large part to play in that.

Chris @ Martial...
July 30, 2007 - 9:39pm

Aaron, the "exhaustion leads to nostalgia" link is broken, and I can't find the article on the site.

Fortunately, I wrote a similar article a few weeks ago, Read More, Write Less: The Key to Blogging Growth, so y'all can browse that instead.

July 30, 2007 - 11:03pm

I see some of the blog rolls out there that try to cover a gazillion blogs in the same space and wonder if their feeds have the same ones. I prefer to have a wider variety of niches, so I limit what I read to just a few per niche. I figure if it's important, one of those few blogs will mention it.

It also helps my writing as my ideas come from a very broad cross section of thought and topics.

August 3, 2007 - 2:33am

Aaron - this post is completely unoriginal ... I read 20 blog postings on the same subject last week :P

I would say that the best bloggers tend to have their own voice. Even if a person repeats a very similar message as others have previously - some bloggers are very good at adding to - or evolving the current topics.

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