More on followers

Friday, February 6th 2015

Looking at the matter of blog “subscribers” and “followers” a little more closely, I realized that I had missed a couple of points that are worth discussing. Please note, however, that this article is written from the point of view of a blogger using WordPress (and wordpress.com, not wordpress.org), though other platforms may have similar facilities.

In my original post (Are you following me?), I assumed that “followers” follow a blog by clicking the email subscription button on the blog and entering their email address, thereafter receiving email notifications of new posts. Some followers certainly do subscribe in this way but, on my blog at least, they represent a minority. So how do the other followers (in my case the majority) sign up? What follows may be familiar to you and if so, feel free to skip it.

When you log in to your WordPress blog’s dashboard (https://your-blog-name.wordpress.com/wp-admin) you see a menu sidebar on the left. The top of it looks like this:

Dashboard Menu (top)

If you click on the fourth item down, Site Stats, and look at the bottom left corner of the new screen, you will see a panel that looks like this:

Followers

If you click on Blog (bottom left) you are taken to a new screen that displays a list of followers with details that include blog name, email address and the date on which they signed up. Note another important detail: at the top and bottom of the list appears the caption “WordPress.com User”. In other words, these people have all signed up through their own WordPress blogs.

At the top of the page, you see this:

Email-only followers

If you click on “Email-only followers”, you are shown a list of people who receive notifications of your new posts by email. Though they are in a minority in my case, your experience may be different. Email-only followers receive an email whenever you publish a new post and they either read it in their email client or click to visit your blog and read it there. What about the others?

The others use a facility called the WordPress.com Reader. To see this, return to the Dashboard and click, firstly on Blogs I Follow and, in the second screen, on WordPress.com Reader. This takes you to a screen that, in part, looks like this:

Blogs I Follow

Here you can sign up to other people’s blogs (enter the URL and click Follow). If it is a WordPress blog, you can click on it in the list and you are taken to a display like the following:

Wordpress.com Reader

There are a couple of features to point out here. Firstly, notice the “liked” button. As I explained in Why do you like me?, I have the “like” button turned off on my blog. People can “like” me all they wish but this will not show up on the blog. The fact that I have turned it off is not reflected here, however: as far as the reader knows s/he can click the “liked” button and see the number increase by one each time. That will exercise their forefinger but that is all.

The second thing to notice is the fourth item down on the left-hand side: “YOU MAY LIKE”. This item appears on other screens also. It shows you a random selection of WordPress.com blogs and beside each one, a button to use to follow that blog.

Discovering this lit up the proverbial light bulb in my mind: is this where all these new followers are coming from? I imagine that at least some of them arrive by this route. That would explain why their own blogs don’t seem to have anything in common with mine and why, once they have signed up, I never see them again.

Do these people have a long, long list of blogs in their reader which they have signed up to but never actually read? Do they hope, poor deluded dears, that I will reciprocate by following them, thus bumping up their own follower numbers?

To be honest, I do not know the answer. Perhaps this goes some way towards explaining the recent rush of followers but that other factors also play a part.

The mystery still remains to be solved.

Copyright © 2015 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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10 Responses to More on followers

  1. That little WP suggestion list is rather amusing. How do they match up blogs and potential “you may like”? One of the many mysteries of WP (that I probably don’t want to know the answer to? giggles)
    Enjoyable musings today

    • SilverTiger says:

      I don’t know whether there’s an algorithm that tries to match the character of your blog with that of suggested blogs. I suspect not and that the choice is simply random. That would explain why so many ‘likes’ and follows come from blogs not at all similar to mine.

      • I’ve inquired about several of WP’s algorithms – like the ones that select other posts by you (at the end of the current post)…machines still don’t quite have that understanding of humor/word play/multiple meanings of words/puns/satire down yet. As a result some odd choices in suggestions. Not sure WP has a sense of humor sometimes either ( from correspondence). But it’s free and this is all for fun anyway

        • SilverTiger says:

          Running a blog platform such as WordPress and continuing successfully to attract bloggers at one end and advertisers at the other is no doubt a very serious business.

          Artificial intelligence has made great strides in recent decades but machines still have difficulty understanding the nuances of human linguistic expression as opposed to the surface meaning. This will probably change sooner than we think and then we will be able to give up blogging and let the machines do it…

  2. Great post. I didn’t know lots of what you offered up. Your blog was in a suggested reading list. I generally come here via notification of a new post. I read all of the blogs that my list says I might like. Currently I am following 37 blogs and 70% of them are wordpress.com. None of my followers are email followers. Anyway I like your blog, clear, concise, neatly ordered. See ya later.

  3. WOL says:

    I follow blogs (and comic strips, and webcomics) through a feed reader, Newsfox. Unfortunately, if a blog does not have a feed (as a new iteration of one I used to follow doesn’t any more), I can’t use the reader to follow it, and I dislike getting humpty gazillion emails. This is much less time consuming than dealing with emails. The feed reader polls each blog to see if there is a new post. When it finds one, it lets me know and I can go read it. I have a follow via email button on my blogs for those who wish it, but I also have an RSS feed, just to cover all the bases.

  4. Keith Nichols says:

    Regarding your curiosity about the increase in viewers of your blog, I wonder if the statistics you can access count frequent viewers like me who have pasted your blog’s web address to the bookmarks bar on our browsers and click on it now and then. I use Safari, and this is quite easy to do; so I don’t subscribe to any of the many sites I check on now and then.

    Regsrds.
    Keith Nichols
    Dallas

    • SilverTiger says:

      I appreciate your interest in my blog.

      It isn’t visits to the blog that aroused my curiosity but the upsurge in people signing up as followers.

      Because this is a fairly new phenomenon and one shared by other bloggers, I suspected that there might be some advantage to be gained for oneself by following blogs. From feedback, however, I am beginning to think that that is unduly sceptical and that there may be more innocent reasons for it.

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