Your Blog Followers Are Probably Spammers

If you have a WordPress.com blog, your followers are spammers. Not all of them, certainly. But probably some of them, perhaps even most of them.

I’ve been suspicious for a while. I saw my follower count shoot up recently, but I had no idea why. I wasn’t getting more hits. I hadn’t been featured on any big websites. There was no reason for it I could think of. But I never really looked into it.

Yesterday, I looked into it.

WordPress claims I have 259 followers. Let’s see who they are.

For starters, there’s “biggerandwaybetter,” whose icon is a well-endowed woman in a bikini. She runs the entrepreneurial blog “magnettomoney.” Then we have “lennalorette,” a women’s fashion business that’s apparently also very interested in AI and philosophy. Another of my loyal readers is an Indonesian tour company who seemingly got very inspired on April 12, as that’s the date of every single one of their posts.

Yeah.

I don’t have the time or inclination to sort through the whole list, separating the legit readers (you guys!) from the junk, especially when I get new “followers” daily. And even if I did make the effort, there’s nothing I could do about it. You can’t make someone unfollow you, or put them in a separate category, or really do anything at all.

So far, WordPress hardly even acknowledges there’s a problem. I still get a breathlessly excited “Congratulations” e-mail on each new chunk of spam, along with the helpful suggestion that I “might want to go see what they’re up to! Perhaps you will like their blog as much as they liked yours!”

And really, is there a problem? It’s a fair question. After all, who really cares? If spammers want to follow your blog, why worry about it? Just ignore them, right?

Well, yes and no. Yes, as problems go, it’s pretty minor. But it does prove that the follower system is broken. I can no longer browse my readers’ websites in any meaningful way. And the total number of followers, which used to be meaningful, no longer is.

Anyone else had this problem? What do you do about it?

Advertisements

31 responses to “Your Blog Followers Are Probably Spammers

  1. I’ve noticed an uptick in followers recently as well, though it did at least correspond to the fractal posts being featured on several math sites. I do suspect some are spam (maybe 15%), and I do find it a little atypical for me to go from 500 followers last weekend to just over 600 this morning. No well endowed women though 🙂 One thought, a lot of people use the number of followers of a blog as a sign it is worth reading. An uptick in followers can boost not only the blogger’s confidence, but will make legitimate readers take notice as well. Probably the amount of “spam followers” should mean that I probably shouldn’t follow my follower count so obsessively (though I still will 😉 ), and realistically at this point I only tend to check out the posts of people who “like” or comment on posts given that even a few hundred is too many to check daily. One thing to check also is your search engine terms. I have a couple of different Google logins (one’s almost a baby) and I’ve typed search terms in to see how far up posts of mine are. It could be just good SEO man.

  2. Did a quick check for the last 24 hours. 3 of 9 appear to be spam. I definitely don’t think the comments is the best metric for how many followers are spam, since it requires a much lower threshold to comment than follow (you can comment and not be on wordpress, where as you can only e-mail follow if not on wordpress (and I only have 10 of those most of which I know personally). But I do agree spam followers are probably a larger portion than we’d care to admit. Ah, well. maybe even spammers get bored and want something to read 🙂

    • I did a similar test just now, examining my last 10 followers. Of those 10, five were almost certainly spam, 3 were so strange I couldn’t tell if they were spam or not, one no longer existed, and only one looked like a legit website. So my spam follower percentage seems to be around 50% – 90%, at least for the past few days.

  3. I have been musing upon why spammers might want to interact with my blog and have two theories:

    (1) the initial hit effect: I usually glance at a new follower’s blog unless it looks obviously spam from the WP email, so it works like a spam email to draw in views needing only a tiny number to convert to sales

    (2) the link effect: whether or not you follow them back or even look at the page each like &c. on my blog is another link between their blog and another site which bumps the page rank slightly.

    If it were not so prevalent I would feel special at being chosen, but as it is I just feel compassion that their lives are so focused on money.

  4. I’ve noticed the same thing recently. I’ve been picking up 2-3 new followers a day, and almost all of them appear to be spam. I’ve been trying to determine whether it really matters, but I do find it annoying.

  5. I’m self-hosted so it’s a bit different, but I’ve seen a lot of spam registrations recently (comments are moderated and I guess they can tell, because they don’t even try to comment after they register).

    Where I do get spam comments is from fake pingbacks, usually porn ads pretending to be ads for handbags, pretending to be enthusiastic comments about how great my post was.

    I talked about this on my blog this week, along with the WordPress botnet thing, and some other stuff.

  6. I’ve recently been getting a marked uptick in followers, and although my blog is enjoying an increase in hits as well, most of the increase is almost certainly spam. When they do have their own site, they have nothing in common with what I write about, and sometimes are in a completely different language. I could see if they hoped that following me would increase traffic to their own site, but many of these followers don’t have an “awesome blog” themselves. There are no posts to click on. Why are they doing this?

    • It’s the same for me. I have a very hard time telling which blogs are spam and which aren’t. Foreign-language blogs aren’t necessarily spam, since someone can write their own blog in their first language, but also know English well enough to read my blog. Blogs that are unrelated to mine, empty blogs, and even blogs that sell things, aren’t automatically spam either. Unlike e-mail and comments, where the line is pretty clear, there’s no easy way to know if a blogger is a spammer (unless they make it REALLY obvious).

      The only real answer, I guess, is not to worry about it. The follower count has become a meaningless number. You just have to write, and be glad somebody’s reading.

  7. You know, I’ve never really considered it. And I’m not particularly concerned. I’m quite happy to have faith my writing has value whether or not anyone is currently reading it. 🙂

  8. Alright, I’m back to say: “Dude. Ignorance is bliss.”

    Since reading this post, I’ve discovered that I’m suddenly getting 3 or 4 new blog followers every day. And I’m pretty sure all of them are non-people. I’m not going the crazy-paranoid “Are any of my followers real??” route, mind you. I’m assuming my previous subscribers are real. But now?

    Now, when I get a notification saying I’ve got a new subscriber, it doesn’t fill me with a sense of self-satisfaction. It just makes me feel like I’m missing out on the joke.

    Ignorance is bliss.

  9. Yep.
    I have around 300 followers and one day I noticed that one of my followers was a constipation medication company lol.
    I kind of scanned my followers after that and have just realized that my follower count is meaningless. I mean my blog isn’t about the followers anyway, it’s kind of a anonymous journal were I can rant and stuff. I can imagine though, if someone is trying to make a name for their writing or something how detrimental this is. I just wouldn’t use WordPress.

  10. Lol, this post was hilarious. I enjoyed your droll sense of humour. I think you can get rid of followers on WordPress if you suspect they’re spammers. You can go on “My Site” and click on a subheading called “People” – a list of all your followers appears and you can remove them if you wish. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s