On a different type of spam

Since I’ve started posting on a regular basis I have really seen my followers grow in numbers.  Nothing viral, mind you, but I’m quite happy with the growth at present.  Thanks for everyone who’s following.  I hope I don’t disappoint 😉

However, I have noticed two trends that I don’t particularly like.  The first is spam-liking.  What’s this, you ask?  Have you ever noticed that sometimes you get likes on a post, but if you go to the stats page, there are no views registered?

Now you ask, why do you have a problem with that?  Don’t you appreciate getting likes?  Of course I do.  If I log on and see that orange star in the menu bar my heart just about leaps with joy every time.  But I don’t write this blog to get likes.  I write it because I want people to read it. (Yeah, that’s very egotistical.  I’ve read recently that blogging by its very nature is egotistical and narcissistic.  Deny it if you want to, but you’re not blogging because you hope your blog will change the world.  You want people to read your stuff!)  If you like my stuff without actually reading it, you’re not doing me any favours.  Thanks, by the way, for those of you who do read, like and comment on my pages and posts.  I appreciate it.

But something I like even less is spam-followers.  By my estimation about twenty percent of my followers are spam-followers.  If you don’t know what that is, let me enlighten you.

There’s an online phenomenon known as viral blogging platforms.  As far as I could ascertain with a quick web search this morning they are basically pyramid schemes.  You pay a monthly subscription in exchange for a blog hosted on your own URL.  Then you use that blog to shamelessly promote the scheme (they refer to themselves as “networks”).  For every sucker that you entice to join the “network” you earn commission.  Then they recruit further suckers, and so on, and so forth.

They all vehemently deny that they’re pyramid schemes, of course.  Except that they solicit money without an actual product being sold, return on investment is dependant on recruiting others to join the scheme, and their CEOs all operate from countries that are known tax-havens – the definitive characteristics of a pyramid scheme.

I’ve been followed by a number of these blogs so far.  They all tell the almost identical story of how they lie on the beach all day while the money pour into their account (tip for you guys:  don’t tell the same story – it’s a dead giveaway!).

So what, you may say.  Followers are followers, aren’t they?  Wrong!  These people follow indiscriminately.  If they discover a new blog, they follow it.  They don’t care what you’re writing.  They don’t read your blog.  They just hope to sucker you into their scheme so they can start earning commission.  So, not only are they not reading my stuff, they’re trying to rip me off at the same time.  As far as I’m concerned these people are the scourge of the blogosphere.  If I could make them unfollow me I would.

Of course, there’s a second type of spam follower:  people who follow you simply in the hope that you’ll follow back.  Many of them, in my experience, promote some religion, or veganism, or something similar.  Even if they’re not trying to exploit me, I still don’t like it.

(By the way, I do not follow indiscriminately.  With every follow, like and comment I get, I click through to the blog involved and give it a once over.  If I like it, I’ll tell you and I’ll follow.  If I don’t, I won’t.  But I’m not going to waste my time following a blog I’m not going to read – it’s not fair to either of us.)

On a related subject, my post on the broken spambot is still receiving all the spam comments on my site.  I seem to have discovered a spam magnet (patent pending – this could make me rich!).

Below is a poll on spamming, if you haven’t taken it yet.

P.S. I promise my next post on spam will feature the canned meat treat.

Update:  The first view, and subsequent follow, I received after posting this is yet another site that’s promoting some blog-to-get-rich-scheme.  Only difference is this guy’s making money snowboarding instead of the beach.  Proof that he didn’t even bother to read the post.

25 thoughts on “On a different type of spam

  1. I have the same approach to liking posts and following blogs. I won’t trade my integrity just to generate more traffic to my own blog. I know I feel cheapened when I get spam-liked or a random follow from the guy claiming he’s making x amount of cash from his blog while sipping mai tais on the beach. Really? I don’t blog for mai tai beach time. I blog because I need to write and I honestly enjoy online discourse with like-minded folks.

  2. I’ve noticed one other thing.

    For non-business-type blogs, you can check the “About” or “About Me” pages. When I suspect that someone is a spam-follower, at least one of these two pages is usually overflowing with comments from people thanking the spammer for visiting/liking/following their blogs. The comments often don’t go beyond that “thank you.”

    Unless these spammers are bragging about their stats to their friends, I don’t get the satisfaction of artificially inflated follower counts. A spam-follower, of all people, should understand that a follower is not the same thing as someone who reads anything from your blog.

  3. ‘The first view, and subsequent follow, I received after posting this is yet another site that’s promoting some blog-to-get-rich-scheme. Only difference is this guy’s making money snowboarding instead of the beach. Proof that he didn’t even bother to read the post.’

    I’m laughing so hard.

    I have a bunch of spam followers myself.
    I once received a follow from someone who claimed he could change the lives of his readers by donating a million dollars or something. It saddened me to know that I even received a follow from him in the first place.

    1. I’ve received three new spam-followers since posting this. These types of blogs are not allowed on WordPress, but they can still like and follow via their Gravatar profiles, it seems. Personally I would have liked a way to block them. Oh, well, at least I get an impressive number of followers out of the deal 🙂

  4. I had suspected as much…

    I’d rather not name the blogger, but I have seen one variation on this. She does a poetry blog and was bragging on how she had an obscenely high number of followers, views, book deal (because of the blog’s “success”), etc. after just a few short weeks. Everything but the book deal seemed like accurate claims.

    To put it kindly, the poetry was nothing special. I hope a publisher didn’t really fall for her crap.

    1. I realise blogs can go viral, but it doesn’t happen very often, and usually either their content is something spectacular, or the author is already very well known. I’d be suspicious in any case of any blogger who brags about the fact.

  5. …dare I click “like” on this? Ah, why not.

    Incidentally, I have a similar policy to you when it comes to visitors. I try to make a point of visiting anyone who interacts with my blog in any way, but I’ll only follow if I think I’ll enjoy their material. Get-rich-quick and “success” blogs, needless to say, don’t fal under that category.

    1. If you take the time to stop and read you’re more than welcome to press like, and thank you. In your case, for example, it tells me I connected with you on some level, and that’s what any writer strives to do. With spam-likers, the like is meaningless.

  6. If you read new posts through Reader it doesn’t seem to register view counts. I’m not sure if it’s a mobile device problem though…

    1. Though my stats page shows views that were referred from Reader. But I have noticed inconsistencies on the stats page, e.g. views by post/page and views by country often don’t match.

      Thinking about it, I think you have a point. The mobile reader shows posts without you actually accessing the site. That probably won’t register as views.

      1. It’s not only the mobile reader. On your web reader you can also see a feed of blogs you’re following, or posts on a specific topic. You must’ve noticed that on each and every one of these posts there’s a “Like” button that you can click on without visiting the blogs. I’ve noticed a lot of people just mass-“Like” every post they see; when I’m exploring a topic to find interesting posts, actually visiting the blogs and reading them, these people are always ahead of me. Either they’re ultra-super-duper-redonkulously-rapid readers, or— well, there’s only one other possibility.

        I’m going to post my findings on a later date. (Been lacking time these days for no apparent reason!)

      2. I just wonder what’s the point of liking everything. Are they simply trying to generate traffic to their own sites? Looking forward to your article on the topic.

      3. On a somewhat-related note: as of this writing, I can point out at least 10 of these ‘spam-likers’ on your ‘Community’ widget. (But of course, the avatars listed change all the time, so…)

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