Sheep and lemmings are herd animals and herd animals follow the leader. Sheep do have self preservation instincts but lemmings will blindly follow the leader right off a cliff!
Many traders / auctioneers in MMOs behave like sheep and lemmings. I've written on this topic before on my old blog for that other game I played before Eve. This is a re-write of that old post.
SheepSheep like to play it safe. They don't come up with any ideas of their own. They just follow someone else's lead, whether it's the lead of a rich trader, some blog author or just following to the letter some old guide full of outdated ideas and information.
Some sheep follow the lead of other players, others just dive right into whatever the latest post on their favorite blog says will make them "lots of ISK"... Without knowing a thing about the market, doing any research or testing first.
They can't understand why it never seems as profitable as for them as the player / blog author says.
It doesn't work as well because whenever a popular blog posts about something a whole lot of new people dive into it headfirst. Also keep in mind anyone offering unsolicited friendly advice out of the blue probably has ulterior motives and may not have your best interests in mind.
LemmingsIt might take a while but sheep usually do notice if they're losing ISK and will eventually leave unprofitable or low profit markets.
Lemmings on the other hand don't even seem to realize when they're losing ISK hand over fist. They'll just keep on going right over the cliff. You can take advantage of lemmings simply by using large undercuts and squeezing sell prices down further and further. Lemmings just keep on undercutting (by 0.01 ISK of course) until you drive prices low enough to buy them out and reset the price.
Sheep and Lemmings mostly bleat the camper's "buy low, sell high" mantra, mindlessly droning on about how "0.01 ISK undercuts keep prices high so we all make more" while ridiculing better, more advanced, less time intensive strategies.
There's a reason that rich trader friend keeps telling you (and everyone else) to undercut by 0.01 ISK... Most likely it's because he's a no-lifer, botter, or both and everyone blindly following that advice makes him richer, not you or anyone else who doesn't camp the market perpetually like he does.
Market leaders are trend setters, not followers. They increase profits by thinking for themselves, identifying trends early and jumping on them before the herd notices and blindly follows. Leaders research, speculate, make plans and take calculated risks. They even <gasp> lose ISK at times but the speculation and risk taking pays off for them more often than not. They aren't afraid to experiment with new/different strategies or cut their losses and bail out when a particular investment isn't working out either.
The way I see it is if I don't get stuck with the occasional loss from time to time then I'm not taking enough risk and not making as much as I could be.
If after playing the market for a while you still can't spot the sheep and lemmings then you probably are one. Stop following the herd, lead instead of following and start making more ISK!