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Dec 09, 2004



This is a great post. And you're right. When I wrote the post at Worthwhile Magazine, my intent was to see what others thought about this. On the one hand, I think BzzAgent is brilliant; on the other, I have felt a bit. . . deceived when I heard a raving endorsement for something and later learned the endorser was an agent. So I remain somewhat on the fence. I'm very interested in the diaglogue


hmmm....i went to the Bzzz site and read about the program. It sounds like a good thing, but....after reading your latest post, I take pause at the seemingly competitive nature of the program....

for instance, what is the purpose of ranking? to get more reward points, right? in my mind, that almost immediately cancels out the alturistic vibe that is supposed to emanate from being a part of the "hive". once rankings and points enter into the equation, for me, it's no longer about being a part of a movement, it's now about competition...

and, if I am now competing to be ranked highly, it's no longer about believing, it's about me kicking your butt to move up the "hive" hierarchy. sure, i may talk about being a part of something bigger than me, but once rankings, etc come into play, it becomes something much different.

for illustration purposes, look at the Christian example...that is a true belief model. pretty simple belief system that millions adhere to...believe in the basic premise and you will be rewarded....nothing about earning points or having the best presentation (although, looking at most religious buildings, i wonder) me, if bzzz was about just doing your best to spread the word, without any form of ranking or reward, then it would be more about being a part of a bigger picture...that should be the reward; knowing that through your efforts, you expose people to a good product that may improve a quality of living.

anyway, i like the concept of bzzz, but the mechanics and resulting behaviors sorta bug pun intended...


Nice post, Evelyn! And yes, I catch up with your Blog frequently coz I enjoy reading what you've to say and share! I've referred to this post of yours and have some related thoughts as well on my Blog. Keep Blogging!

Evelyn Rodriguez

From what I've gathered via their blog, BzzAgent is very open to feedback on its processes.

Anita & JBR: I also very much dislike that agents can be disingenious by concealing their involvement and that is my biggest gripe: the lack of transparency in the campaigns. While this is certainly not the case with all their volunteer corps (I just signed up because I prefer first-hand knowledge to adequately state my opinions), I think it's something that needs addressing. I have been very impressed by the level of transparency apparent in their blogs, so that's why I feel they are open to any feedback we may have.

JBR: You obviously read this even more closely than I. Yep, I agree the ranking system isn't needed, and could be detrimental to intrinsic motivators.

Nirmala: Thanks, btw, her post is at:

Mike Rohde

While Bzz seems a very interesting approach, I'm curious about the motivation of the comany and its represenatives. Specifically, the motivation of 'getting' versus acting out of real thankfulness.

If you look at JBR's example of Christianity, in it there's the idea of both immediate and delayed rewards for a life lived following Christ. However, I'd say the deeper and more sustainable motivator of Christianity is the idea that believers have been given grace by God, and because of this, are eager to perform acts of kindness, etc. out of true thankfulness.

I think a focus on achieving sales or social ranking (such as Cory Doctorow's idea of Whuffie points in Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom), puts Bzz agents at a slightly lower level of motivation. A Bzz agent acts because of what they might get out of it — not necessarily a bad thing.

However, the motivation to share your feelings and ideas about something you really love, believe in and are thankful for is a much deeper motivator. Those who act from thankfulness may receive rewards, but the drive to share with others comes from a completely different, and I believe, stronger motivation.

As an example, I love Palm handhelds and share their benefits to whomever I believe they could help out. I'm not paid to do this — I've done it because I really love the product and am thankful for the difference it has made in my own life.

I've spent many hours helping others integrate Palms into their lives, published a a free monthly newsletter (the Palm Tipsheet) for 5 years, to help users make better use of their Palm handhelds. Because of my actions born from thankfulness, I was noticed by the company which makes the operating system (PalmSource) to join a group of user representatives who advise them from a user's perspective.

I've done all these things because I am thankful, not for rewards. I might receive status in the Palm user community or the occasional device, software or peripheral to test out because of my work. But I have never confused the rewards with my reasons for action — I have acted because I am thankful. I've found acting from thankfulness can be sustained far longer than simply working for brownie points.


great comment, Mike...not for agreeing with me, but for helping me see bzzz in a different light. from my cursory look at bzzz, i would guess that most bzzz agents are somewhat "stay at home" people. knowing this demographic may help explain the behavior/motivation of a bzzz agent.

in your post, you eloquently describe why you freely give your time to assist others with Palm products. you profess a profound appreciation for the product and to repay the benefits bestowed upon you by Palm, you reach out to others in need. instead of hiding your talents, you are using them...

from reading the bzzz background info, i would infer that bzzz agents (stay at home demo) are not necessarily performing bzzz work out of gratitude, but rather, they perform bzzz actions to fill a void in life. i don't really think they are trying to improve anyone's life, but rather, they want to have a reason to interact with others and create more constructive purpose in their lives.

clearly, there is nothing wrong with filling a life with constructive fact, i applaud these people for doing that...sure beats filling a life with alcohol, soap operas or tabloid journalism. i just don't think there isn't a lot of altruism in the hive. again, that's not a bad thing, but i don't really think the bzzz agents really consider themselves as something bigger than them. i think they like interacting with people and bzzz gives them a meaningful reason to do that. to me, that is much different than your actions.

of course, this is all conjecture and like Evelyn indicates, to accurately comment, one must be a part of the hive. i will await her fact based posts to get the real scoop. no doubt, it will be interesting.


one last note....Halley or Halley's Comment went to the Bzzz christmas party and blogged it...check it out

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