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Blog Exercises: Trust the Crowds

Blog Exercises on Lorelle on WordPress.In an October issue of “Science News,” an article on the “Deep Network” monitoring of the sea floor, reported on how the general public may monitor the sea floor through the Neptune system of underwater microphones and web cams through LIDO (Listening to the Deep Ocean) (requires Flash). New discoveries have been made by citizens watching and listening as well as researchers. A Ukrainian teen watching noticed a mysterious creature through the web cam. He described it as a “sea monster with a mustache” and reported the sighting to the scientists through the site. Examining the footage, they identified it as a Northern Elephant Seal, known to dive deep, but never tracked to a depth of 900 meters. In another example, they discovered the song of a North Pacific Right Whale, thought to be extinct since 1951, giving hope to whale fans and scientists around the globe. A great example of science opened up to the public.

Steve Fossett, aviator and explorer - source Wikimedia Commons.Steve Fossett, famous as an aviator and balloonist, the first person to fly solo nonstop around the world in a balloon, died famously, too. When he was reported missing flying his plane over the Nevada desert, web users turned out to help locate the pilot or evidence of the crash. The flight range covered more than 20,000 square miles (52,000 sq. Km), a nearly impossible area to search on foot or even by plane. Google contributed to the search with new satellite images in Google Earth, encouraging people to “put their eyes” on the area through more than 300,00 278-square-foot images of the area. A week after his disappearance, it is estimated that more than 50,000 people joined the effort, the largest and most complex peacetime search for an individual in US history.

When it comes to crowd-sourcing, there are fewer successful businesses than WordPress. WordPress began with Matt Mullenweg saying “there must be something better than this,” and Mike Little responding from thousands of miles away across a continent and sea. Ten years later, thousands of contributors from around the world use WordPress to help millions manage their websites.

Matt admitted to me once that one of the scariest decisions he had to make was to “trust the crowd,” giving up control and delegating responsibility for WordPress to others, and learning to trust the masses to help make WordPress better. I can’t say that I would have been so brave.

In honor of the two year anniversary of, I invited a variety of popular bloggers to guest blog on this site, the only time I’ve done so. I gave them full reign, terrifying myself, to blog to their heart’s content, and they did amazing articles, including some that are still among the most popular on this site. It was so successful, I haven’t repeated it since. 😀

Do you include the crowd on your site? Do you give up control from time to time on your site?

Blog Exercise Task from Lorelle on WordPress.Today’s blog exercise is to examine the ways you may give up control and let the crowd participate and influence your site.

Darren Rowse of Problogger opens his site up to guest contributors so much, it is a full-time job managing them all. Could you do that?

Opening your site up to the masses may be frightening, or it just might be the boost your site needs. There are so many ways to make your site more interactive. You’ve probably considered a few methods already. Now is your time to get past your fear and experiment with crowd-sourcing your site.

Here are some thoughts to consider when it comes to trusting the crowd with your site.

  • Invite guest bloggers.
  • Participate in a Kickstarter or the equivalent to raise funds to keep your site going.
  • Hold a contest or competition.
  • Sponsor a blog carnival, a project where people contribute content to a theme, and everyone links to each other’s articles.
  • Create and promote a meme, a themed publishing and social media sharing project.
  • Invite readers to “redesign” your site.
  • Have a “suggest a post” campaign, inviting readers to tell you what to publish next.
  • Design a scavenger hunt.

I’m sure you can come up with more ideas to crowd-source your site, so let us know what you have done in the past, what you are thinking of doing, or are doing, and how it has worked for you.

If I get enough tips on how to make these successful, I’ll summarize them in another blog exercise to help us all learn from your methods to trust the masses.

Remember to include a hat tip link back to this post to create a trackback, or leave a properly formed link in the comments so participants can check out your blog exercise task.

You can find more Blog Exercises on . This is a year-long challenge to help you flex your blogging muscles.

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen.


  1. Maggy Simony
    Posted November 9, 2013 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    Why doesn’t the link to read entire article work todaY? Same story with two other blogs received from you, so it must be MY problem??

  2. Posted November 9, 2013 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    If you got the email notification as a subscriber, there might have been an issue with and subscriber notification with scheduled posts. This one is beyond my control. Sorry. Thanks for letting me know. If it persists, let me know so I can report it to

  3. Posted November 10, 2013 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Oh my! I think I must be a blogging curmudgeon at least, or a control freak, at most.

    Perhaps I may soften up in the future, but after 8 years of public blogging following more than a year of private blogging, I don’t sense I may be cracking any time soon. I’m a strong willed introvert ie. a retired warrior princess from the political and environmental genre, who is far too controlling to allow any crowd ie. mob to control me.

    Though I do publish guest blog posts and I am in continual dialog with my readers re: blog design and themes to blog on, when I look at the other suggestions on that 8 bullet list they don’t appeal to me. Moreover, I find the current follower attraction ideas being employed in the blogosphere today are off putting.

    At the top of my aversions list are the trendy giveaways or gifts designed to bribe me into following any blog, and/or any schemes designed to harvest my email address, so I can expect to be spammed with advertising for product and service launches I neither want nor need. In second place on my aversions list are memes, competitions and contests of all kinds.

    • Posted November 14, 2013 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      Oh, you and I are partners in thinking this way, my friend.

      One of the fascinating things you and I do when it comes to trusting the masses is technical blogging. We explain how to use WordPress and blog better, and we trust them to do so. It’s a deeper level of en mass trust, but it is there. We trust them to trust us and learn from us. It is our way, and we do it damn well, even if we don’t allow guest bloggers on our site or play games. It’s a rare gem form of crowd trust.

      I didn’t trust the follow system the moment if was created. I’m with you there. It’s lazy.

      We should start a group called WP Curmudgeons United.

    • Posted November 16, 2013 at 9:47 am | Permalink

      Dear Lorelle,
      Thanks so much for your response re: technical blogging. I hadn’t considered that aspect and I appreciate you identifying it for me. “We should start a group called WP Curmudgeons United.” That’s funny. Do send me a membership registration form, will you? lol 😀

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