What The Followers?

off my lawnWhile I’m in a meta mood, there’s a post I’ve been meaning to write for months. It’s particularly apropos as a followup to this year’s Blog Anniversary post, especially as it’s a followup about Followers.

Specifically, the 2,642 of you supposedly following this blog. Often the proper term might be lurkers, but in this case I lean more towards absent drive-bys. There would be more, over three-grand, but ever since WordPress gave bloggers the ability to delete Followers, I’ve been removing obvious spammers (meaning anyone selling anything).

I’ll give you the punchline so you can stop reading: I’m about to remove nearly all of you.

If I don’t know you, if you’ve never so much as clicked Like (let alone Comment to participate or even just to say “Hi!”), then I’m kicking you off this blog. If you’re one of the few who lurk regularly, you might want to speak up somehow.

See, the thing is that, while I seem to have 2,600+ Followers according to WP, the actual number of reads any post ever gets shortly after publication is a tiny fraction of that. It varies from single digits to, maybe, as high as 40 or so.

Cecil B DeMille

Cecil B DeMille

Posts that have accumulated hits for years don’t come close to the supposed number of Followers WordPress claims I have. The new stats don’t seem to provide this easily (thanks, WP), but what seems to be my most read post, Sideband #17: Ready when you are, Mr. DeMille, published about six years ago, has 1,467 hits. (And one Comment and two Likes, so WTF, oh, my fine Followers?)

So there’s really two problems here: Lurkers and Drive-by Follows.

I’ll accept Lurkers; some people are just shy. If you’re out there silently reading, you might want to at least click Like (or, seriously, just say hello) so you don’t get caught in the purge. I don’t plan to spend a lot of effort trying to remember if I’ve ever seen a Like by someone. (Plus, I’m old and my memory is shot, so be advised.)

Those of you who have commented I’ll always remember!

As for you Drive-bys, y’all are gonna be history.

I don’t know if it’s advice that’s published somewhere or just an idea people get, but I know what’s going on, and to be both blunt and crude, you can kiss my ass. Following me hoping I’ll check you out will never happen. Even those of you with a hot chick icon. I learned my lesson about that bait-and-switch long ago. Don’t count your chicks until!

unfollow

If you really want to attract my attention, speak up. Contribute. Or, as I say, just say hello and offer an invitation for me to visit. I haven’t turned down an invite yet.

So, as the saying goes, “Speak now or be forever Unfollowed.”

§

Here’s a little Follower-related show and tell: I’ve saved those emails WP sends when someone Follows your blog. I wrote a Python script to processes them into a nice list and another that makes hit charts.

Below are those hit charts (Followers per day) for the July 2011–July 2016 period of this blog. The scale is the same for all six charts:

followers-2011-s

2011 (Blog starts in July, about the halfway point.)

followers-2012-s

2012 (Small spike in December from being Freshly Pressed.)

followers-2013-s

2013 (No idea why things picked up or died off.)

followers-2014-s

2014 (Slow but steady?)

followers-2015-s

2015 (Off-scale spike from being Freshly Pressed in March.)

followers-2016-s

2016 (Follower rush from late in 2015 dies off suddenly.)

The pattern is weird. The spikes from being Freshly Pressed I understand. But late in 2015 there was an apparent campaign going on resulting in a flood of new Followers. With almost none of them announcing their presence in any way.

There seemed to be a similar, but smaller, campaign in 2013. Or perhaps two, one in the second quarter, and another later in the year. Which is followed (pardon the pun) by a very slow year in 2014. Weird.

In any event, I’m shooing y’all off my lawn.

Go lurk somewhere else!

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

19 responses to “What The Followers?

  • The Smiling Pilgrim

    That is a lot of followers wow! Lol

  • judiththereader

    This seems so cruel! 😦
    You have lots of followers though, and I can’t believe your “reach” is comparatively smaller. I didn’t even know you could “kick followers off”. I’d love to get somewhere near 2000 one day, and I hope to reach more people too! That’s why I find other interesting posts to comment on, and connect with other WordPress readers. 😊

  • Jamie

    Probably good to weed out the lawn once in a while 🙂

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Yeah. And it isn’t even weeds — those you’d notice — so much as holes where someone came by, poked a weed-shaped hole in my lawn, and walked off down the street never to be seen again. I decided I’m tired of a lawn full of holes, so I’m buying some dirt and filling them in!

      This post is meant as a warning klaxon in case any shy flowers want to hang around (certainly more than welcome, although one wonders why they would). It’ll be a few weeks before the dump truck with the dirt shows up. Gives the message time to get read by anyone actually reading.

  • Wyrd Smythe

    Got into a serious slash-and-burn mood… Now I’m down to 98 Followers!

    All of whom I recognize!

    My lawn is looking much nicer now!!

  • ~ Sadie ~

    I’m NOT a lurker LOL 😉
    Sometimes, WS, someone will read a post you write & really like it & hit follow – then due to their time constraints, # of blogs they follow or when posts appear in their reader, they don’t always make it back for awhile – that happens to me a lot. I have my regulars I seek out and/or my reader (which has quite a few on it), then when time permits which isn’t often, I go through the list of those I follow & visit those I haven’t visited in a while. I have quite a few regulars, so even that takes some time when I’m not online a lot. Anyway – just one explanation 🙂

    • Wyrd Smythe

      I’ve got at least two other “regular” readers who visit even less frequently than you do. The two of them together comment less than you do, but the point is: All three of you do comment. I know you’re there. As such, frequency isn’t an issue; it’s nice to “see” you when you drop by.

      It’s the thousands who’ve followed without a word or, in most cases, even a Like, that have been shown the door. This, on some level, is performance art, so silently lurking is a kind of a dick move. 😀

  • Daemon

    Interesting subject which is not being discussed much. I have been thinking about this ever since I started my blog less than a month ago. I only have 64 followers, but I noticed that more than half of them have not liked any of my blogposts. So why are they following me (or pretending to)? I came to the conclusion that they probably just want me to follow them back, and never even read what I write. Fake followers, just like fake people in the real world, make me sick.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Well, 64 in a month isn’t bad, but, yeah, most are likely drive-by follows. The number of hits a post gets is probably a better indicator of how many real visitors you have, but even some fraction of those is people who land on your post from a search and (apparently) decide your post wasn’t what they were looking for. (Looking at the search strings people use to find you can be interesting and telling.)

      The only really valid gauge of readers, for my money, is comments. Blogs tend to develop a community of readers who chime in pretty much on every post and pretty much within a week of posting. In some cases, it’s a lot of “I agree” and “good post” comments, but those at least show engagement. In other cases, conversations and debates happen, and those are the most fun. I’ve managed to attract a few like that, and I’m really grateful for’m!

      And, sadly, text blogging, particularly “long-form” (us wordy writers), seems in strong decline. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, etc., etc., etc. That’s the deal these days.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

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