Have you seen a burst of new followers on your blog in the last couple of weeks? Well, before you pop the cork on the champagne bottle and toast yourself for being master of the blogiverse, first you’d better go see if your new followers actually have a pulse.
I have a lot of shortcomings as a blogger – PR work is right at the top of the list. I’m no good at reading other people’s blogs and commenting on them, and I’m even worse at following WordPress’ advice when I get a new follower and they suggest, “You might want to go see what they’re up to! Perhaps you will like their blog as much as they liked yours!” I might WordPress, but most days it’s hard to see anything passed the big pile of facebook memes and status updates that I’m buried beneath.
Since I wasn’t checking out all my new followers and sending them a dozen roses and a new puppy like WordPress suggested, when I saw my follower numbers start to climb at an abnormally fast rate, it took me awhile before I realized something was amiss. I just thought people were finally beginning to realize how completely awesome I am…. seemed like a logical conclusion at the time.
Somewhere after gaining over 100 followers in two weeks, a light bulb went on in my head – even I’m not that awesome (but if you want to refute that point, I won’t argue). A rapid increase in my following happened each time I got Freshly Pressed, but that made sense because of the increase in traffic; I was getting thousands of hits a day, so statistically, I was bound to find a few people who wanted to jump on board my blog. But now, my views were pitifully low – under 50 most days. So what gives? I decided to put on my Sherlock Holmes hat and sniff out the answer.
As it turns out, the answer smelled a lot like Spam.
I got out my trusty pen and paper, blew the dust off of them (because really, who the hell uses a pen and paper anymore?), and went to work sifting through all these so-called followers. I made a “phony spam” and “real deal” column on my paper and kept track each time I visited a follower’s blog site. Before I knew it, I had more spam than my Grandma after she accidentally visited a porn site…. it’s okay Grandma, we all know it was an “accident”.
I found that my followers fell into four categories:
The dead end. When you click on their web address, you are led to a page telling you that they don’t exist. Well, where the hell did they go? They were obviously there a minute ago. Was clicking the follow button on my blog the last thing this person did before keeling over? Perhaps finding me was enough to make them feel as though they could die happy now. Or do my followers just have a shorter lifespan than most fruit flies?
The used car salesman. People that aren’t really people – they’re companies trying to sell you stuff. Well, listen up assholes – because you got me all excited about having a new follower, and then turned out to be just another cog in the corporate greed-machine, I’d rather drive to Wal-Mart on black Friday to shop than buy anything you’re selling.
Ummmm….. what? These followers are a tricky bunch because I can’t tell if they fit into the spam column or the real one – probably because I can’t understand a fucking thing they’re saying. They look like legitimate blog sites because they have dated blog entries and followers of their own (most WAY more than me). But because nothing is in English, I can’t tell if they’re writing about legitimate things or if they’re trying to sell me internal organs from the black market. If it’s the latter, I could really use a new gallbladder guys – mine got cut out six months ago….
It’s ALIVE!! Real people. These followers are the reason I sit down to write everyday…. well, almost everyday…. okay, about twice a month. The ones who read my stuff, and decide that they want to read more of whatever I write about in the future. When they click my follow button, it’s because they think my problematic chin hair is hysterical, and they can’t wait to see what other gross things happen to my body as I get older. I LOVE YOU GUYS!!
Lovely, faithful (REAL) readers aside, these fake followers have managed to suck one of the true joys out of blogging – the excitement of watching your follower numbers climb. Every time I gained a new follower, it was an affirmation that I’m a good writer. But now, that number is meaningless. I know I earned the first 643 of those followers, but every one after that is a mystery.
WordPress, you do such a fantastic job of blocking spam comments from making their way onto our blogs, can’t you do the same for spam followers? Please find a way to protect my innocent eyes (yeah, right… who am I trying to kid?) from having to see any more pictures of naked people riding bicycles. PLEASE!! And restore the kid-on-Christmas-morning joy that used to come from seeing our blog audiences grow.