At the event this weekend I had several people compliment me on this blog. It’s not the first time that’s happened and its always gratifying; I like knowing that people are reading my stuff, which is why I stopped my old LiveJournal blog — after seven years of declining usage on LiveJournal I was basically talking to an empty room.
One of the nice things about the WordPress format is the statistics tool: basically, it keep a running tally of the number of hits on my page for the last 48 hours. I can go to a personal stats page which shows me number of visitors vs. number of views, which posts have received the most views and, most fun, country-of-origin for visitors based on anonymous IP routing. By far most visitors are linking from Canadian IP addresses, of course, which makes sense because I link articles from to my Facebook account and most of the people I know live here. But sometimes I get hits from the UK, Turkey or France, which tells me that certain friends living overseas are reading, or from Australia or the US, which lets me know certain SCA friends are paying attention, and so on. It’s fun.
And then there’s the Notifications ticker. I’ve got it set up to let me know when a comment requiring approval comes in (no comment gets seen by the public without my approval on this blog, see the “about” section of this blog for an explanation why) and how many “Likes” and “Follows” I get. I get a goodly number of “Likes”, but the “Follows” thing is starting to be annoying.
In order to “Follow” me, you need a WordPress account; that’s fine, not everybody has them: Blogger is by far the more popular blog service. As of this morning I have a modest number of Followers, I’ve been averaging a new follower once every couple-three posts, I think. Half of those are real people, usually with health-related blogs who likely found me thanks to the heart-problem, diet-issue tags on the flurry of health posts earlier in the month; the other half seem to be “monetize your blog” types.
I like the real people. I like that complete strangers are looking at how I write about my challenges and enjoying it enough to want to come back and keep abreast of the situation. It makes me feel good about my mildly exhibitionistic tendency to over-share; if someone reads this and says “I have the same problem and if that fat bastard can get through it, so can I!” then, as the saying goes, my work here is done.
I’ve also picked up a couple of Followers through tagging posts for the Society for Creative Anachronism, which is nice because I frequently post about my SCA projects, and its always nice to have my peers — or Peers, as the case may be (rimshot) — knowing what I’m working on and possibly giving feedback.
But the “Monetize your Blog” Followers? That irritates me. They’re not linking to my blog because they like what I wrote, they’re doing it because if they Follow umpteen million people, then a certain percent of those people will Follow them, and the “value” of their blog inches up a fraction of a cent. Presumably this helps them sell advertising space or whatever; I don’t know how to monetize a blog and frankly I don’t care: my idea of the perfect webpage contains no advertising whatsoever.
I guess it the whole “monetization” thing hits a lot of the same buttons for me that phishing schemes do — trying to manipulate random neophytes into doing something for your benefit and to the detriment of theirs — and if there’s one thing a career IT guy hates, it’s phishing schemes. And Windows 8, but that’s another blog post altogether.
And it’s always such a lift to get the little notification that “such-and-such a person is following your blog!” — I hate clicking on the link to their blog just to find out that they’re only Following me on the off chance that I’ll return the favour despite the fact that their copy-pasted monetization articles contain no actual, useful information and are actually mind-numbingly boring. There may be people in this world who enjoy pointless, vapid, advertising fluff (“Some people juggle geese!”) but I am not one of them.
So I guess this little complaining post works out to two main points: Real people who like my writing can come on in; the Monetize Your Blog types can just keep walking.