Not All Followers Are Desirable

The following Twitter message came across my desktop today.  It was a wonderful sentiment for this blog.

I had to check out the Hashtag #learningfair2013 and it appears to link to two great days of learning itemized at:  https://sites.google.com/a/ugcloud.ca/learningfair2013/

Back to the original Twitter message.

There are a number of ways that people can actually follow this blog.

  • Use RSS and refresh to see the latest updates;
  • Wait until a post is made and look for an announcement on Twitter;
  • Go to the web at 5:01am since I schedule new posts for 5:00am;
  • Load the Ontario Edubloggers Livebinder or Scoopit page and look for it;
  • WordPress users can read it in the WordPress reader (on computer or mobile);
  • or, a feature from WordPress – have a copy of the latest blog post email to you.

As old school as the last option may appear to be, it’s really handy for those who might want to read a blog post on their cell phone on the subway or something.  It comes across as just another email message like clockwork at 5:00am.  For the reader, it’s just another thing in your options for ways to read the blog.  As a blogger, it’s actually a feature of WordPress that I can’t turn off.  If you want to subscribe, you just go for it.  Even if I wanted to, I can’t stop you.

Not that I would want to stop YOU but there are a lot of people that subscribe that I wish I could.

Believe it or not, as I write this post, I have 5,116 people who get email updates.  There will be many more when you read this post tomorrow morning.

Now there was a time when my ego would just be over the moon when I talk about that number.

There actually are some legitimate, very nice people who receive updates this way.  But, lately that’s changed.  Check out the table below, a piece just copied from my email followers.

Email Address

xxxxxxxx@hotmail.com

Following Since

1 hour, 40 minutes ago

xxxxxxxx@hotmail.com 2 hours, 46 minutes ago
xxxxxxxx@hotmail.com 7 hours, 19 minutes ago
xxxxxxxx@hotmail.com 12 hours, 1 minute ago
xxxxxxxx@hotmail.com 16 hours, 55 minutes ago
xxxxxxxx@hotmail.com 22 hours, 31 minutes ago
xxxxxxxx@hotmail.com 1 day, 1 hour ago
xxxxxxxx@hotmail.com 1 day, 2 hours ago
xxxxxxxx@hotmail.com 1 day, 3 hours ago

If those email addresses, look a little wonky, then you’re on the same wavelength as me.  Note that they’re all Hotmail accounts.  Does anyone even use Hotmail anymore?  The xxxxxxxx is added by me to obscure the email names entered.  However, they all appear to be contrived.  They’re actually formed by random three or four digit names concatenated with some dictionary words.  Like “doug” + “mule”.  Now, when I first saw this, I was prepared to accept that one person had such a name.  However, I had email notifications turned on to let me know when I got a new subscriber.  It got really annoying after a while.  It you look at the time and dates, you’ll see that my email was going off quite regularly.  At about 3,000 of these, I decided to turn it off!

I’m not the only one who is concerned about this.  There are whole discussion lists on the WordPress boards of people who are questioning and, ultimately, asking for a blocking or editing solution.  None seems to be forthcoming.  And yet, these spam followers continue to do their thing.  At present, they don’t appear to be posing me personally a problem.  The number just gets bigger and bigger.  It’s an annoyance but for me nothing above that.  On the backend, I can see that it’s a problem for WordPress and maybe Microsoft.  If each one of the 5000+ accounts gets an email message from me to a phoney address, Hotmail or Outlook may be taking quite a hit and WordPress may be gaining a reputation of sending an inordinate number of messages.

I just hope that, whatever or whoever is behind this, doesn’t cause a functional problem with the blog.  Otherwise, the legitimate email followers may be affected.  (BTW, I’m one of them – I just want to make sure that my post goes out so I send myself a message…)  I also subscribe to many “can’t miss reading” blogs this way.

If we only had a subway, I could read it on my phone with all the other undesirable followers!

Later in the day…the original post was written about 4 in the afternoon.  It’s now 9pm.  I have picked up three more spam followers.  The number now stands at 5,119.

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3 thoughts on “Not All Followers Are Desirable

  1. I use feedburner to do email subscriptions. I have the ability to delete someone and you have to verify your email address before you can officially subscribe. It works out pretty well.

    Like

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