Off-Target Followers

Blogging and Social Media, if done well, are all about community. Unfortunately, like any real-world community, there are those stores you only shop in when you’re in a hurry, those streets you try to avoid and those people you politely wave to as you scoot by without stopping. I’ve always followed a set of unwritten rules when it comes to following bloggers, but I’ve never paid much attention to people that follow me. Until lately. I’ve discovered that I have to start treating WordPress like I do all those other places.

I’ve always paid attention to the comments that aren’t filtered out by the WordPress robots. Lately, I’ve been seeing a few that include links to the author’s own page or business. I delete those comments. Well, not always. If your comment goes along the line of: “a similar thing happened to me, I wrote about it here” then, yeah, I’ll probably look, especially if you’re a regular. That’s actually why I don’t make it hard to include links in a comment, I want your comments and links you feel are relevant.

Regardless of whether you’re a regular or not, I will click on the link. I can hear my Systems Administrator at work saying: “no, don’t click on the link, check it out in one of the hundreds of services made for checking content without going there.” I figure that Askimet already did that. However, if your link isn’t what you said it would be, the comment will be deleted. If it’s a porn site, or any other site that my malware detector doesn’t like, you’re blocked. Have a nice day, no second chances, buh-bye.

askimetIn fairness, the corollary to my rule is that I rarely add a link to my comments. If I do, it’s usually to a photo on my Flickr site or possibly to a blog post that I’ve written or seen that might answer a question you posed. I always try to explain why I am adding the link. Your blog is your place, it’s not about me. I believe that my comment should augment your content.

borisFor many of us, other social streams extend and amplify the conversation happening in WordPress. Those places, are fraught with nogoodnicks. Over on Twitter, I have gotten way more suspicious of new followers over the past few years. If you follow me, I am going to review your timeline before following you back. If I like what I see, I will probably follow you. I may add you to a list or two. If I see a constant stream of tweets where you’re trying to sell something, I will simply walk on by.

If I do follow you, and the first thing you do is send me a Direct Message telling me about your product, service, blog, website or whatever, I will unfollow you. If you product gives me the willies, I’ll block you. If you seem nice, I might warn you, but that’s becoming a less and less likely outcome.

Lately, I’ve seen a disturbing trend on Flickr. People will find one of my photos, let’s say of a racecar, and mark it as a Favorite and then leave a comment. The comment will be a link to their racecar parts store. I block these people instantly. Buh-bye.

Actually, Flickr has the best blocking mechanism ever. Last week, a “woman” – I put that in quotes because it was a female-ish avatar – Fav’d and commented on over 20 of my woodworking photos. Each comment said “This is great!” and was followed by a link to her woodworking business. In one click, Flickr blocked her and deleted all her comments and favs. It’s like she never existed.

I don’t have much of a problem on Facebook. I’ve only ever connected to people there that I know in real life, or those that I know well enough in virtual life to hope to meet someday. Based on the near total lack of crap I see on Facebook, I’d say I’m a good judge of character.

I won’t bore you with another round of why LinkedIn has become a jungle of spammers and identity thieves. So far, in my attempt to switch to beBee, I am following fewer than a dozen people. I wish LinkedIn made it easier to ask people “why do you want to be in my network?” but that seems to be a feature I have to pay for. I make decisions based on where they say they work and what they say they do. The flaw in that approach is that very few people say they work for a criminal enterprise and that they steal identity information from LinkedIn for a living.

78 thoughts on “Off-Target Followers

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  1. It’s such a jungle, isn’t it… I don’t have time for the social media or any other “marketing” aspect of indie. Yes, that is reflected in the number of books I don’t sell. :D I only started dealing with Facebook at all because WordPress would do it automatically for me. I haven’t been as selective with it as you, but I wish I had. The “event” thing to me is such a load of spam. And the fact that they call it “friending”… It makes me want to ask “How are you going to be a friend to me?”
    I focus on LinkedIn, but I’m trying to make big “path” changes. I took someone’s advice and accepted connections if they were connected to others that I knew — Until I learned that they weren’t screening their connections at all. Now I rarely accept one that does not come with a personal note.
    Good luck, Dan. Those of us who are about to social media salute you. :)

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I was using that method with LinkedIn too, Teagan, and I came to the same realization. Now, I have so many meaningless connections that I sometimes feel like starting over. LI is designed to create connections to make the service appear to be successful. It took me too long to discover that. I understand that you need to have a presence there, especially if you are trying to orchestrate big changes, or even just keep your career moving. I do wish they made it easier to ask “how do you know me?” or “why do you want to connect?” I have started to drop people that connect and immediately start spamming me, but I should be able to avoid those connections.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I like your approach and thought you took to write this, Dan. I am careful but interested in some products and businesses promoted by fellow bloggers. I usually will try to think of someone to pass info on, but often will not follow these people. Smiling at you, this Monday morn!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Robin. It’s funny, I’m ok with people that actually write about a product, place, thing, service or something, if they’re honest about it. I love learning about products and services I might like, but I’d rather it be up-front, not have it sneaking in the back door.

      Like

  3. Now this is a topic sure to draw some comment, friend. I don’t have a Flickr account because I haven’t figured out what it really does, and I deleted my LinkedIn account because of numerous requests to be in their network because of my previous business title and a stalker. I’m not ‘personally’ active on Facebook or Twitter because of the drama but am more interactive on my MG page. Now to my favorite, blogging. I like hearing different opinions, learning things, seeing wonderful photos, and sharing comments. I don’t follow anyone trying to sell me something and definitely delete comments that aren’t relevant as you described. A couple of weeks ago, a gardener person on FB asked a gardening question which someone answered. I decided to go check out his page with the idea of following him. I scrolled down his page quite a way and about fell out of my chair when I saw several porn style political cartoons. I’m not talking off color funny, I’m talking disgusting. Ah, yes, the on-line community is as diverse as the real world one. :-)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Judy. I can only imagine the connections your previous title would bring. I get so many requests from recruiters, you would think I have a staff of 3,000 instead of 3. LinkedIn makes it hard to really know who your connecting to, until the connection has been established. I wish they would change that, but it’s not in their best interest to do so. When I can, I try to learn about connections (Twitter and FB) ahead of time. It is amazing what you discover sometimes.

      One thing I like about Flickr is that it’s an easy, searchable repository of my photos and I can download reduced size images when I need one for my blog. I’m sure some have been stolen for use elsewhere, but I’m too lazy to track them down or deal with it. Every now and then, I see activity that is off the charts. I figure that’s a ‘bot stealing my photos,

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I agree so much. It is so frustrating to get off-the-wall comments that have nothing to do with what you are discussing. Or, just a link. I get it, we all blog to have followers, cheerleaders, a community. But it usually seems pretty clear when that “person” just has other intentions. I do try to look at people’s pages before I follow them too. However, I am woefully behind on looking at a pages. But when I do look, I am certainly not giving them my product page….wait, I don’t have a product page! Ha. I do wonder though, all these people who spam, do they have actually jobs? Or is this what they do all day long?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks for this comment. I don’t know what they do. I’m guessing that they are the ones who sell the “I’ll get you 1,000 connections for $5” and things like that. The links do (would be effective) in that if I see a link in a comment on your page, there’s a certain implied trust. If they weren’t so awful, like the comments in the gallery, you might be tempted to believe them. If the comments on Fllickr had been in context, and if only one or two had a link, I might have left them. But, seeing “Great!” 20+ times followed by a link really wasn’t boosting my self-esteem :)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. LOL-true. One or two greats is enough and believable. I have never understood that buying likes or followers thing. It just seems like faking friends or supporters. I often wondered what was the purpose. I never thought about the lending credibility issue you just mentioned. Wow. Now it finally makes sense. My mind. Is. Blown. You just turned on a light for me. Wow. I get it now.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I do the same as you, Dan. If someone comments here and unashamedly leaves a link to their blogsite…that sells or has undesirable content…I delete. The same for Twitter – I will not follow and will block you. As for Facebook, I purposely don’t put a link to it on my blog because that’s my personal space. A few well-chosen bloggers know who I am on FB and I’m good with that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Mary. I put a link to No Facilities’ Facebook page on my blog, but that’s proven to be a good/bad thing. The people that I follow on FB don’t like the extra step to get to it, so I end up posting updates in both places. I am trying to keep me on Facebook, personal.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What a well-written, relatable post about this subject. You could be one of only a few hundred thousand people to know my secret to other well-written, relatable posts on this subject. Click here for this video, type in the captcha and your credit card information and soon the secret will accidentally be delivered to your neighbor’s house for only five payments of $19.95! You won’t believe this one awesome tip! You’ll never work again!
    Honestly, I don’t get much spam. I get a lot of meanies and pervs, though.
    On Twitter, I mute people frequently, because sometimes I scroll through on my laptop and my kids sit next to me, and well, you know.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Only 5 payments? Wow, maybe I should buy this secret for my wife, too… I try to never post something people couldn’t read sitting next to their kids. As long as their kids have heard those words. I don’t like mean people at all – I’d drop them faster than pervs.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. From my parenting experiences, I have concluded that once a child has spent a few weeks on a school bus, they know all the words. They maybe don’t know what they mean, but they know a shocking amount of words.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Excellent post, Dan. I’ve been fortunate, I think, to avoid both spammers and trolls. I’m gradually narrowing my social media platforms too, primarily because I can’t keep up with it, but also because some of it feels like a barrage of info that’s irrelevant to me. This post is good info to keep in the back pocket. :-)

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Oh my, I am disappointed to know I won’t be getting any wooden sex toys from you – ;) As always, I am impressed with the wide range of skills you have both in the technology world and physical world. I had a comment the other day that bothered me, but I didn’t quite get my thoughts into words. You have written exactly what I wanted to say and then some things I hadn’t thought of yet. Do you mind if I share it?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I always delete any links in comments if they have nothing to do with the post I have published. I once saw a blogger leave a link about recycling coffee cups on a post written about the death of a bloggers’ father. He obviously had not read the post and was just a human robot leaving the link on hundreds of posts. I’m the same with anybody that signs comments with a link to their own blog. It’s not polite to do – well, that was what I read many times when I first started to blog.
    Although I have LinkedIn account I very rarely use it. I do, however, use Twitter and StumpleUpon a lot and, yes, I get lots of Spam from those too.
    I just love going through the spam folder of my blog. How on earth authors of many of the messages which end up in there think the message is ever going to get on one of my posts, I’ve no idea (especially as I choose to moderate all comments, reblogs and pingbacks before they appear in the comments section).

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I don’t blame you for being cautious, Dan, no matter what the site. There are a lot of good people out there, potential members of your “community”, but they’re mixed in with sellers and stalkers and porn-bots and other unsavory characters.

     — The auto-DM is a big red flag. That’s always a sure sign, to me at least, that I’ve followed a page that’s too commercial.
     — LinkedIn is the gum on my Internet shoe. I keep getting follower requests, and I keep clicking okay. I didn’t used to. I used to let them pile up, thinking that I’d go through them and review each request carefully, but then I just said the heck with it. Maybe I shouldn’t, but I don’t use the site for anything, so … *waves hand*.
     — I’m glad you allow links from people you know. I’ve included links a couple of times in my replies, and at least once it said I had to wait for the reply to be moderated. But having trashed a few spam comments with links over the years, I get it, believe me.
     — I do the same on Twitter – take a look, and maybe follow back, but I’ve become very selective, too. I currently follow about 2,000 pages, and I’m just about to hit 15K followers. There are probably some good people I’m not following, but it’s too hard to keep up, and has been for a while. A good “problem” to have , I’ll grant you, but still!

    WP is a different story. I don’t get a lot of comments, so I have to resist the temptation to leave spammers up. Gotta take community where you can find it sometimes. ;P

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You get the award today Paul. I tried (and failed) to reply to this comment three times. Once, my phone just ate it and shut off. Once, I accidentally clicked on some link and the third one is stuck in my phone until I copy it here and then kill the WordPress app.

      “the gum on my internet shoe” is the perfect description of LinkedIn. I hope I remember to attribute that to you when I use it during my next rant. I think I am using the setting that makes me moderate your first comment with a link and then let’s them go. I’m not sure. I do want to encourage people to include relevant additional material. If I have to moderate them, I try to be quick about it. I appreciate every non-spam comment I get.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. This has been going on for years now Dan. There are so many spammers that want to share their travel consultancy links and other site links to my travel blog mainly because certain posts of my blogs are right on top on Google. I get so many requests to add porn site links on my honeymoon in India content. I think any platform you choose, you are bound to get these challenges. Look at FB, people paste photoshopped images and spread lies and rumors, they just want people to click certain links and they can stoop really low to get it done. I have fought with many of my own friends telling them not to share or forward content which is a lie. When they do, I comment in bold FAKE and they realize I’m pissed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha – I like the bold FAKE, that’s a nice touch. I know it’s been going on for a long time, but it seems to be creeping further and further into normal conduits. The more people I connect to, the worse it gets.

      Like

      1. The bold fake thing works like a charm. The moment I comment it as fake no one pays attention to that post on Facebook. My friends realize that I am quite unforgiving at certain times, especially false content.

        Like

  12. I only really have my WordPress blogs and Facebook to concern myself with in terms of social media. The only other things I have are Pinterest (for hoarding recipes mainly) and Flickr and that I only use it to host the images I use on my blog. A few of my images have been favourited but that is the only interaction I have had on Flickr. I guess I am lucky that way.

    I too allow people to share links in their comments on my blog because sometimes it is useful to further a conversation in the comments section. If it continues the dialogue rather than disrupts it then I consider that a positive interaction. However, every week I have to weed out the weirdos who only leave links – I am sure often to products or dodgy sites – as a comment. I have things set up so that the only people whose comments get published automatically are those I have previously vetted. That has helped me keep on top of it. I don’t click on any such links to verify them and I don’t want to be the conduit for a reader to click on them and find something offensive or harmful.

    I must say that the majority of activity on my blog is positive and human and involves dialogue. I had a spike of spam activity when one of my posts was featured on Freshly Pressed but I guess my blogs are a bit too random or small scale to interest the spammers much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. WordPress seems to have most things covered behind the scenes. Facebook, I guess it depends on who you’re connected with. That’s why I go slow. I manage Twitter by putting people on lists and only viewing those lists. I rarely view the general timeline of everything. That would eat my day in half.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Excellent post, Dan. I’m only on WordPress, LinkedIn, and Facebook and have cut back on time on the latter. I’ve accepted a few connections on LI from people I didn’t know, but I’m stopping that and maybe getting rid of some of the ones I have. WP does a good job of not letting spam through, but I do enjoy reading some of the comments, especially those that tell me what a wonderful article I wrote…commenting on a Photo Challenge post. :-)

    janet

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Janet. Yeah, the comments that are wildly out of context are sometimes funny. I recently responded to an email at work. It was from a legitimate company, but they claimed to have read our website and spoken to my secretary, I asked them who they spoke to (I don’t have a secretary) so I could better route their email. Sometimes, it’s fun to mess with people too :)

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Good post, Dan, and it leads me to believe that I was good to delete my LI and FB accounts. I recd a request to connect on LI from someone I didn’t know, but he was connected to my boss. Must be legit, right? I no sooner connected with this creep when the swarmy messages started. I mean nasty stuff. I quickly deleted him and then rethought the whole process and dropped out of everything but WordPress. I am a happy woman for doing that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ugh, that’s so sad about LinkedIn. They make it hard to screen connections though. It’s sad, but I think Facebook does a better job. People like that are allowed to stay in the fold, but I get yelled at for posting “unprofessional” content (links to my blog posts). shaking my head.

      Like

  15. Good post, Dan. I’m pretty liberal on the WP comment side except for those who do the old ” You should visit my site” and then include the link. AAAARRRRGGGG. I never link my comments. There were times when it would have been appropriate but I decided against. It is a jungle out there. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. This is a really good post Dan, and rather timely since I’ve started to see a rather unusual increase in followers for no apparent reason.
    Quite frankly, I tend to ignore new followers who don’t make an effort to engage me, but I haven’t (yet) been burdened with those who are simply fishing for their own benefit. If I’m lucky, hopefully I won’t :)

    Liked by 1 person

  17. So with you on comment links.

    I don’t ever friend anyone I don’t personally know on LinkedIn. That’s for FB, if we have enough friends in common. I still have my settings to : only a friend of a friend can friend you 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  18. “The universe is filling up with people who can’t be matched,” said Nicholas Fury in Avengers (2012).
    And I’ll say that Social media is full of people who can’t be friended. The fake accounts. I’m very wary of them. Like the account asking if you are certain about the supply. How is that name even read?
    When I joined FB in 2010, I was very friendly. But these days I just unfollow, unfriendly, and block. Most of the people I follow on Twitter are writers and bloggers. So I’m sort of safe there, though sometimes I get followed by weird accounts, which I block forthwith.
    YouTube, I think, is the worst place for comments. Very cruel and abusive people live there. A colleague of mine recently called them “the dregs of social media”. I just laughed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do very little on YouTube, Peter, partially because I have seen some very negative comments one total innocuous content. Some people are just mean. The creepy spammers would be so much more effective, if they studied the language they are spamming in. Not that I want to make them better, but…

      Like

  19. You don’t have much of a problem on FB? You are so incredibly lucky, Dan. I’ve had nothing but problems there. I keep forgetting to delete my account there because I avoid the site as if it has the Bubonic Plague. Is there a time when the site isn’t as busy as another time? That’s when I would attempt to go delete everything there.

    You get more readers at your blog, which makes for more potential crackpots. Do you have your comments set up so you need to approve if the person has never left a comment before? That’s the way I have mine set up so that those who want to sell something or their comment is irrelevant get tossed before it hits the public screen.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have a limited number of friends (and very little family) on Facebook and I really haven’t had much of a problem. The blog has a facebook page too, but not much traction on that. I don’t think I care if you’ve commented before, but I think I might be having to moderate comment that include links. I keep an eye on comments, even if I don’t have time to read or respond, just to make sure the bad once don’t’ survive very long. Sometimes, my wife will send me a text like “you need to go delete a comment on your blog” but in general, it’s not all that bad.

      Like

  20. Dan, a pause for thought post! I try to stay in the shadows on social media. The more I read about the downside, the more I stay away. Good that my sunset/sunrise blog theme is simple. WordPress weeds out the weirdos! 💛 Elizabeth

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I love spam comments, which I call spomments. I started a Facebook page called Spomment of the Day, where my friends and I mock them mercilessly. I don’t see them very often on my blog anymore, though, between Akismet and CommenLuv Premium’s Anti-Backlink plugin.

    I’m at a loss as to why I’m still registered with Linked In. I suppose it’s because it’s the first social network I ever joined, even though it’s one I never use, except to feed my blog to it.

    There used to be a service that showed you your Twitter followers and ranked them for interactions and so forth, and made it easy to prune your list, but it’s now defunct. I sure miss it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I saw your tweet earlier (thanks) and I was trying o figure out Spomments. Silly me, I didn’t get it because I was sounding out a long O in my head. Spelling wasn’t my strong suit. In any case, I like the word and I love that you mock them :)

      There are still services like that for Twitter, although they seem to change every 3-5 weeks. I don’t use them, but I’ve gotten very selective in whom I follow.

      Like

  22. Yeah what’s up with that…people who I’ve never seen before posting a link to their blog. It so turns me off. If someone new comments I try to click on their blog to see what it’s about but sheesh! i’ve never posted my blog in someone else’s stream. Strange!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m guessing it’s a “technique” somebody is suggesting. It might work on the sites where the owner doesn’t read/respond to comments. There are a lot of those too (which I don’t understand either).

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Dan, another great post. There is so much for me to learn about blogging and interacting with the community. I don’t know how many blogs I follow because I simply can’t keep up with them. I try my best to read and comment on those blogs (such as yours) where there is interaction and reciprocity. I have close to 200 followers, but again, I only visit a handful of those bloggers.I ought to dedicate some more time to reading their blogs.
    I hardly look at my spam folder; I ought to check it just to see what’s there.
    About FB, it can be a thief of time – I don’t go there often. No twitter as yet:)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Elaine. I’m not sure I’ve learned much, but I’ve made observations. The posts of mine that attract the spam comments are curious. There’s no clear pattern, but all the spam comments are targeted at only a few posts. Facebook can be a time thief. I visit a couple of times a day. I don’t always post a lot there, but sometimes I do because it’s the only place I’m connected to some people. I love Twitter, but I don’t care about the followers unless they start contacting me directly and then I block them.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. Dan, I have been seeing an increase in “problem” sites ending up in my comments over at my blog. Anyone in advertisement, nope, I pass them by and toss those comments in trash. One day lately a comment popped up leading me to a porn site on WP. I was shocked. Truly. Anyone leaving me a link who I don’t know, I delete their comment. The porn comment I put in spam. There have been some maybe comments which I have left but without an answer. FB … I connect there just for family and most of them I don’t see their posts because I swear some of them post like 50 times a day! Really? Who has time for that and besides those posts are cluttering up my email! I have very little tolerance for BS and I toss. I laughed out loud at the comment that was signed viagra. LOL Unbelievable!!! Really enjoy being back here again!!! :) <3

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Dan – really well said – and I enjoyed hearing this side of you – like the snarky “buy-bye” – ha!
    And I know nada about linked in – but heard it can be hacked.
    Further – my Twitter experience went down the drain when things got too cluttered – and one day I had 88 of this instant messages you noted – crazy! And then got hacked – but I think it was yahoo related – argh- but my absolute favorite time on Twitter was my first year when I followed 56 people – I enjoyed my feed and life was so good- but then this crazy exponential growth occurs and flavors change big time! And while we can mute on Twitter – I lost my interest -and the same thing with too large of a blog – I miss my former one so much – but in a way it was getting very high maintenance – anyhow –
    I liked your social media reflections!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! All this stuff has to be controlled. I was about to lose it with Twitter, until they created lists. Now I have a “Daily” list of people that I really want to follow. For me, that’s twitter. If people become crummy, I take them off that list. If new people looks good, I add them, but I never let it get too big to follow.

      Like

    1. It’s a treasure trove of identity and other information. Mostly, for me, it leads to cold call marketing attempts. People will drop names of my coworkers and say “so and so suggested I speak with you about…”

      Like

      1. Ah ha. I see. No need for me to worry about that – the cat is on my lap helping me type and the dog’s gone out for coffee. If either of them suggest someone call me, I’m going off the LSD. Right away.

        Liked by 1 person

  26. A well-written and well-researched post on a current trend, Dan. WordPress does a decent job at filtering the spammers, but I also receive the occasional person who is there only to promote a product, which has usually nothing to do with what I’m writing on my blog. In fact by simply deleting the comment, it’s enough to discourage the spammer to come back. But my blog is a small house.
    We live in a strange new world where we bravely plow our way, learning as we go that regardless of the period of time we’ll always meet interesting and annoying people.
    Again, great topic that will resonate with bloggers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Evelyne. Sometimes, the spam is random. WP usually catches those. The others are more targeted. Those are almost a compliment. They think your house is a good spot for their sign. I still remove them :)

      Like

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