Digging into the numbers behind my 1,000 followers


This blog recently passed a milestone, logging its 1000th follower. It should be noted, however, that the landmark follower was a blogger whose site was titled Chinese Numbers, which describes itself as “Chinese, language, learn, speak, write, textbook, contract, beginner, advanced, intermediate, commercial, marketing, correspondence, characters, radicals, decomposition, business, numbers, numerals, contract.”

Blog posts on Chinese Numbers include “Read Chinese Numbers 1-10 for Fun.” How could I resist? I clicked on the post and got what appears below (I erased the link that appeared behind “more information”).


What fun, indeed. The exclamation points were utterly superfluous.

Also, when you click on the “about” section of the blog, used to provide background on the blog or author, it reads: “This is an example of an about page. Unlike posts, pages are better suited for more timeless content that you want to be easily accessible, like your About or Contact information. Click the Edit link to make changes to this page or add another page.” So, no one bothered to even describe what the blog was about. Sounds legitimate to me.

Apparently, my blog is popular with the Chinese self-help crowd. Follower No. 999 is a blog titled Chinese for Beginners, while No. 998 is Chinese Commercial Correspondence. And right before that is the delightfully titled The Earth of Brain, which describes itself as “Chinese, language, learn, speak, write, textbook, contract, beginner, advanced, intermediate, commercial, marketing, correspondence, characters, radicals, decomposition, business, numbers, numerals.”

Others that have begun following my blog in recent months include the usual mishmash of sites selling male enhancements products, art, photography, architectural designs, books, publishing services, etc.

These sites apparently believe there are people randomly seeking poorly maintained, poorly written blogs for odd products. I’m not sure what sort believes this is part of a solid business plan, but they’re likely the same type who approach an advertising agency and tell the firm, “I don’t know what I want, but make it ‘pop!’”

(And to the recent follower who thought up the name FoxxyMobile Investment Services Limited – I say, good luck. Points for the use of “Limited,” but where I come from anything with “foxxy,” whether it’s spelled with one “x” or two, unless it has to do with omnivorous vulpines, is a likely sign that mischief is afoot.)

On the other hand, you have the particularly focused blogs that are quite fascinating. Sharks Parasites and Zoology comes to mind, along with Crusader History and To the Sound of the Guns.

I’m certainly no expert in, for example, sharks, parasites or zoology, but find all three interesting, having caught sharks, attracted my fair share of parasites and enjoy seeing, catching and studying animals in general. I have much respect for individuals who specialize in a legitimate area of study, and are able to cogently express their knowledge and interests in words the average person can grasp.

There are also a handful of high-quality writers out there who are able to touch on a wide range of topics.

Waldo Lydecker’s Journal, a North Carolina blogger who succinctly writes on a variety of political and social issues, An Sionnach Fionn, who describes his site as “Irish Republican news and opinion” but is so much more, The Venomous Bead, who describes her blog as “themeless” but writes with both knowledge and wisdom on myriad topics, and roughseasinthemed, a Brit who lives in Gibraltar and Spain, and adroitly mixes common sense with a desire for justness, all come to mind.

Unfortunately, for every one of the above, all of which I have followed for some time, there are at least 50 blogs set up solely to sell merchandise or services, push spam or for simple self-aggrandizement.

I equate the above 1,000 figure, as compared to the actual number of legitimate bloggers who follow this blog, to an idea I would sometimes espouse when I was a journalist. There is an old theory that if an infinite number of monkeys were left to bang on an infinite number of typewriters, sooner or later they would accidentally reproduce the works of Shakespeare. When I occasionally turned out a particularly pathetic bit of prose as a reporter, I would turn to one of my co-workers and say, “Three monkeys, 10 minutes.”

In other words, of the 1,000 followers listed for this blog, it’s likely at least half are nothing more than shills for products, services or worse.

That said, to those of you who have taken the time to read this blog since it began eight years ago, you have my thanks.

I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to deliberate with you who have both agreed and disagreed with me, and on more than one occasion I have been forced to rethink my position(s). I’d like to think I’m a better writer and a better person for having embarked on this enterprise.

15 thoughts on “Digging into the numbers behind my 1,000 followers

  1. Ha! So interesting. I often wonder who all these followers are that apparently follow me but never participate in discussion, let alone ‘like’ anything. I haven’t had Chinese numbers though. There was a rush on false fingernails and eyelash products at one point which I thought was hilarious 😆

    • I missed the false fingernail and eyelash product bloggers, alas. I’m sure my readers are that much the poorer.

      I’d imagine, like everything else connected to the web, there are bots that create blogs to try and push spam and fraud products. I can’t imagine they generate much business, but one never knows.

  2. I’ve spent the last hour reading through the Crusader and Civil War blogs 🙂

    I get strange or questionable followers on WP and social media as well. I received a very pained message from a conservative Irish-American reader the other day who was deeply upset to realise that by adding me on Facebook he had accidentally followed “an actual socialist”! The poor man sounded so upset I had to sympathise with him 🙂

    • A “socialist!” How awful! Let’s hope he manages to pull himself together and is able to carry on.

      I suspect there are few people I would agree with everything on. In fact, I would probably be worried if there were. Having been a journalist for many years, most of my associates saw the world very differently from me libertarian live-and-let-live perspective. I’m fine with that. As long as people are constructive, you can disagree all you want. Even those with polar-opposite ideas can usually teach me a thing or two, if they’re mature enough to present ideas civilly.

      • Ah, he was of a certain age. He was actually grand once he got over his surprise. Though the subtleties between a socialist and a social-democrat seemed to elude him. Though he’s not alone in that one 😀

        I think he was expecting something very different from a political website with the term “republican” in the title! Explaining American party republicanism versus Irish ideological republicanism took a bit of effort. But, hey, I enjoy the opportunity to spread the good word, as it were. I’m an inveterate proselytizer 🙂

      • It is nice when folks are willing to listen and learn. And I say that because I have to do that, as well. I can definitely see an American struggling with the concept of a social democrat. Our political system is so black and white, or at least those that pull the strings would like us to think so.

  3. Thank you for those kind words….it makes a great change from the American loon – well, I can’t call him a gentleman – who moans about my blog on his comments on someone else’s blog….
    Why not moan directly on my blog, you ask, innocent that you are.
    Because that would mean acknowledging my existence.

    I don’t have many followers but they do feature women interested in make up (sales thereof), personal trainers (how they think they can make me do press ups over the internet challenges belief) and people flogging photography (I can take photographs of my thumb without further assistance).

    Luckily there are also people with whom it is a pleasure to communicate and from whom I have learned a great deal.

    • It’s like the island of misfit salespeople, isn’t it? And, yes, fortunately, there is a small cadre of interesting talented writers who obviously spend a bit of time on their blog, which makes it a pleasure when I can find the time to read them.

      • I’m always pleased to find your blog heaving over the horizon…but usually reserve it for a moment when i can enjoy it in peace.
        I’ve been trying to see how to follow the Waldo Lydecker’s Journal;…there has to be something to press, click on or fill in, but so far i can’t find it. Any advice gratefully received.

  4. Too funny to read those scum of the earth that are spammers and yes, you are a good writer. And I do read your blog time permitting. Congratulations!

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