Something strange is going on and I’m not entirely sure how to get to the bottom of it. I’m suspicious, curious and oddly trepidacious, which is unfortunate because, under the circumstances, I should be feeling thankful and flattered.
That may sounds deliciously mysterious, or perhaps rather dully melodramatic, but I shall explain. Basically, in recent weeks the number of followers of my blog has increased dramatically – from somewhere in the 300s – which took a couple of years and two Freshly Pressed posts to accumulate – to well over five hundred, with a serious head of steam up towards 600. Over the last four days I have received regular e-mails from WordPress informing me that new subscribers have signed up to my blog, yet not a single one of them has liked any of my posts nor made any comments. Indeed, I’m convinced that none of them has even looked at any of my posts, judging by the activity data on the Dashboard, because there has been no corresponding increase in the number of views. In fact, quite the contrary – the last few days have marked a steady decline in viewing numbers – no doubt in the absence of any recent posts.
After my post Back to the Front was Freshly Pressed in February, I received a significant spike in views, likes and subscribers as might be expected, and for which I am still very thankful. Inevitably, as my post moved off the top and steadily further down the page, thus receiving less exposure, that flood of views dwindled to a trickle and, ultimately, down to a daily average that hovers somewhere between 40 and 100. Once a few weeks had passed the number of people liking or subscribing – outside of my posting anything new – also dwindled to the very occasional – maybe one a day at best. This is precisely what I would expect without the exposure offered by the Freshly Pressed page because it fits the pattern I’ve identified over the last few years.
At the end of that burst of activity and attention, I had roughly three hundred plus subscribers. This was a very pleasing number and, it seemed, a group made up of people who had actually read my work or looked at my photographs, judging by the distribution of likes and comments. Then, about three weeks ago, I noticed that the number of subscribers had risen to c. 450 odd. This came as a real surprise because I had hardly received any e-mail notifications of new subscribers in that period, or notice of any activity for that matter. I began to wonder – is this because WordPress no longer informs me when people without a Gravatar sign up? Had I received a torrent of subscribers getting notification via e-mail, but without any presence on WordPress? Previously I had been notified when people without a Gravatar signed up, so, perhaps something had changed. Either way, however, the numbers seemed outrageously inflated for such a short period of time. Where were these subscribers coming from? What was going on?
Then, four days ago, my inbox was suddenly full of WordPress notifications again. My first thought was, oh joy, perhaps I’ve been Freshly Pressed, for outside of a fresh post which receives an uncanny amount of attention, there are never so many notifications. This, however, was not the case, and, as stated above, none of the new subscribers liked or commented on anything I’d posted. It occurred to me that I should Google Tragicocomedia and see if my blog was somewhere being promoted or highlighted, yet apart from a bunch of references to various of my posts, the only other site that seemed to be associated was one called Bloglovin’ of which I’d not previously heard, but which seemed to provide links to roughly eight million blogs on exactly the same subjects – fashion and vanity. This was depressing enough, but also entirely unenlightening, because when I searched through all the categories I couldn’t find my blog anywhere prominent that might explain the attention it had recently received. It also seemed so far removed from the subject matter of the top blog list – which are, quite literally, almost all about fashion – that I can’t imagine anyone visiting that site would take an interest in Tragicocomedia.
I was left feeling very deeply suspicious. Was this an example of the sort of bullshit that goes on at Twitter, wherein people buy whole swathes of followers in some desperate attempt to promote their personal brand of self-obsession or some utterly undesirable product? I’d certainly not instigated any such activity. Was this some slightly back-handed flattery, in that my blog had received enough hits to warrant people wanting to follow it for the sake of jumping on the bandwagon, in the hope of drawing attention to themselves? The idea seems both utterly preposterous and also deeply annoying as I had liked to think that WordPress existed outside of that insincere and pointless follow me if I follow you universe. Surely people would only follow blogs because they actually want to read them, right?
Maybe I’m being horribly naïve and old-fashioned about all this. Either way, I certainly have no desire to alienate or upset new subscribers who genuinely are interested in my writing and photography. But if you’re only here to get a leg-up of some kind, then I’d recommend you go back to Twitter, because I’m not in this for the numbers and frankly am not going to follow you back just because you followed me. I’m only interested in following blogs I’ll actually read, which I really ought to do a whole lot more of! Indeed, I just paused a moment in writing this to work out why on earth I never receive notifications of posts from blogs I’ve chosen to follow. Strangely, the default setting is to send no notifications whatsoever. Having now made reparations for this, it seems my inbox is going to be a lot fuller after all and the time I allocate to reading is going to need a serious extension.
Anyways, to finish up, I’m still baffled about all this and would be happy to receive clarification, should anyone know the cause. Either way, what I would like to say is a great big thanks to all my subscribers, especially those who have been following me for some time now. I shall try in future to be more inter-active, as it were, and to pay proper attention to what is going on in your worlds as well. All the best!