An Open Letter to my Phantom Follower.

The phantom follower.

The phantom follower.

Dear phantom follower,

WordPress recently sent me a mail informing me that you have subscribed to my blog – once again. Although I am flattered by your repeated attentions, I am also somewhat flummoxed. I have lost count of the number of times you have signed up over the last few months. I am at a loss to understand why you feel the need to subscribe on such a regular basis; most people subscribe just the once, not once a week.

I am aware that changes of heart can happen; after all, everyone has probably made the decision to unsubscribe from a blog at some point in their blogging experience. That’s life, after all – a blog that initially has the literary attraction of double chocolate cake can lose its appeal and transform into the reader’s equivalent of rice pudding if the reader and/or the writer’s personal interests evolve in different directions, leading to an inevitable rupture as the two bloggers’ paths each go their separate ways.

Such is life. However, changing your mind then changing it back every other week is a surefire sign that you either have no clear idea what you’re after, or you’re a trouble-maker (bloggers call them “trolls”). I did wonder if you get an inexplicable thrill out of hitting that follow/unfollow button – some kind of very sad attempt to control people’s feelings at the press of a button. Surely not. Maybe you have problems with your eyesight and are confusing it with the “Like” button, but it would be very pretentious of me to suggest that. Oops, too late.

You piqued my interest enough to google you, for the same reason that I google numbers that appear too frequently on my mobile phone. You don’t appear to be a blogger. Herr Google informs me, however, that you have a personal diet plan. This put a new slant on the mystery – maybe your hunger pangs wake you at night, and you subscribe to the same blogs again and again in a desperate attempt to counteract your craving for calories. If this is the case, may I suggest that you open the fridge and succumb to the temptation of a large, creamy yoghurt instead? Alternatively, you could busy yourself with some scrapbooking – apparently it is one of your interests. How do I know? Herr Google relates that you have followed and unfollowed a scrapbooking blog until the blogger was so ired that she posted about you in a name and shame campaign. I won’t be naming you, nor shaming you. The first in case you are looking for free publicity (goodness know why) and the second because error is human and you may just have very bad keyboard skills.

I’m sure you don’t want to drag this kind of bad reputation around. Please feel free to read my post “The serial liker” to get a better idea of my attitude to blogging etiquette. Although technically speaking you are a serial subscriber, you’ll get the general gist. And without wanting to be rude, when you’ve finished reading, please make up your mind and stop sitting on the fence. You are free to sign up and read……. or to have a chocolate biscuit or two in front of the telly instead. I promise I won’t tell Herr Google.

Thank you.

Bloggingly yours,

MM.

Written in response to “The Daily Post”, 13th August: “The Art of the Open Letter”.

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37 thoughts on “An Open Letter to my Phantom Follower.

  1. Oh, you have one too….mine is enchantingly named culdefosse6….I only noticed because of the repeat subscriptions, sometimes twice in one week.
    Given that I have the stalkers from my husband’s family who seem to feel that reading a blog will keep them up to date on our doings rather more efficiently than the more conventional way of picking up a ‘phone I hadn’t paid culdefosse6 more than passing attention.

  2. Fabulous – really enjoyed reading this. I’ve been quite lucky in that I have regular followers, but once they’re gone, they’re gone. It must be very frustrating!

    Love your blog, and now following…

    • Hello Suzie, and welcome to the madhouse! Pull up a chair and meet the gang, the coffee machine is in the corner beside the juke box:-) Phantom Follower is a strange person; he (or she) is the only one of his/her kind I have come across so far….. I’ll go for a sneak around your blog today!

  3. I wonder if it’s those ‘confused and bewildered’ types who don’t understand that signing up for email notifications on comments is not the same as notification of new posts, and they tick both boxes. Then when click on the WordPress link to confirm, they delete, and so on… ad infinitum.

    • Given the reactions from Bumblepuppies and Helen, I’d say that my ghost is anything but confused…. their cover has been blown. I’ve never seen anyone else signing up again and again, apart from certain serial likers who refresh their “interest” from time to time (and get ignored).

  4. Hi MM. Great post and I popped to The Serial Killer and read that too from start to finish (honest!). I am one of Sarah’s ‘confused and bewildered’ and have been unable to ‘like’ your posts when I don’t have time to leave a comment. Not sure why? I have written on similar in ‘I’m Fat and I Can’t Spell’ and have long since stopped looking at viewing figures. Still no internet access so not been blogging lately but enjoy catching up with you when I can.

  5. The repeated follow and unfollow is a more common problem at Twitter than here at WordPress, but unlike WordPress there is a rule against it at Twitter, where Twitter classifies that behavior as a kind of spam. It’s what I refer to as Passive Spam to get your attention, to get you to visit the source where the product or service is presented. Aggressive Spam is when they post it at your blog or website like in Comments, when they send it to you, rather than getting you to come to it. Most of those who repeatedly follow and unfollow are usually doing so to try to get your attention for a product or service. It may also be referred to as Indirect Advertising rather than Direct Advertising, and most of the people doing that are “shills” for the products or services. If WordPress were to have rules like Twitter then most of the fake and spam blogs, as well as fake profiles, could be stopped. There’s more I want to bring to your attention and to others who might be having the same problem. Here it is, a bit long, but should be worth your time to read and be useful for you…

    I no longer use Twitter (and Facebook) because of two reasons…

    One reason is, most people there now only follow to be followed back and have no interest in my tweets, compared to WordPress where I actually get some readers. It’s like millions of people all shouting at the same time while no one is listening. I do miss using Twitter for some professional news sources for breaking news. Anyway, WordPress gets more people who actually read my postings than does Facebook and Twitter combined.

    The second reason has mostly been fixed. I was using Google’s Chrome browser, which downloaded Google’s new spyware “journals” to my computer to record and report all of my activities, on and offline, mainly for ad-tailoring, even after I opted out of ad-tailoring. Google allows others to participate, including Twitter, so I found a “journal” downloaded to my computer for Twitter, installed in hard-to-find “hidden files and folders” that need to be made viewable per option checkbox vie internal Search using the relating key words. Facebook, and many others, had the spyware “journals” installed on my computer. The “journals” are not recognized as adware, malware, or spyware by programs used to find and remove them. It took six hours for me to find and remove all of them the hard way.

    Then I had to find and remove additional hidden files and folders, used for other purposes, installed by Google and Chrome, by doing an internal Search using key words “Chrome” and “Google” (without the quote marks) in separate searches, even after I uninstalled Chrome. It took an additional 6 hours to do that the hard way. I had to download the free “Unlocker” tool to be able to remove some of the “Chrome” and “Google” files and folders that were designed to prevent removal. Very devious of Google to do that. It’s the same problem with the extremely dangerous “SweetPacks” piggybacking on downloads to update or upgrade various programs on your computer, especially FLV for playing videos, which takes over your browser and computer like a virus but for delivering ads. Most of the “SweetPacks” installations must be unlocked to make removal possible. Use of System Restore (to an earlier date) is also necessary to help fix all of the damage done by “SweetPacks” as well as some others.

    I was able to open and read some of the “journals” and was shocked by the kind of detail I found in them about me and my activities. Also, I discovered the “journals” copied and shared my bank records and health care records stored on my computer as documents. The bank records were the grand prize for ad-tailoring, showing how much money I make and what I spend some of it on when using my debit check card.

    It is the same spyware “journals” that are being shared with the NSA by Google and participating others including Facebook. Google’s spyware, created for ad tailoring, is superior to the NSA’s spyware, so I’m sure Google is making money providing its service to the government. Keep in mind, Google bought the famous Keyhole satellite from the CIA to use for Google Earth. The new CIA satellite can count the hairs on your head. I switched to Mozilla Firefox. Also, Mail.com located in Germany. Mail.com, Mozilla, and WordPress are fighting the NSA, not cooperating, and are defending our privacy. I believe privacy is security, so when they take away our privacy, then they take away our security. I’m in favor of stopping terrorists, but it is wrong for the NSA to take billions of dollars from taxpayers to then use that money to spy on those same taxpayers, instead of using the money to stop our real enemies.

    Zone Alarm has caught hundreds of hackers in China trying to take documents from my computer, including a university professor in Beijing. I used the free version of Zone Alarm and Whois.sc free service to trace and identify them down to user name and street address of the computer used to hack into my computer. Not just the ISP, but ISP plus an additional set of numbers Zone Alarm gets for the owner’s information, websites, and email address, which Whois Source provides. I’m now able to identify and spy on those who I’ve caught spying on me and ripping off documents stored on my computer.

    I also use the free StatCounter.com, in addition to WordPress Stats, to identify visitors and know how long they spent reading my postings. You may have 100 Visitors with 150 Views, but how many of them “hit and run” and how many of them stayed long enough to actually read anything is important to know. The WordPress Textbox widget is where you install the StatCounter html to make it work. I put “Welcome and Thanks for Visiting” as the visible title of that widget for the “invisible” version of StatCounter. Then I read the “real time” reports at my StatCounter account.

      • Most of those who behave like the Phantom Follower rarely visit and read the blogs they repeatedly follow and unfollow, but rather do so via the WordPress Reader, being more convenient for them and their purpose of passive spamming to use the Follow button there to follow and unfollow. So it is unlikely your Phantom Follower will be reading this posting you intended for him or her to read. Same as what I reported about the Like button abuse problem.

        It’s possible that your Phantom Follower can’t read your blog anyway, as result of no longer having a head, such as the headless man who rides a horse and carries a battleaxe, if anything like that character…

        …The new FOX TV adventure drama mystery series SLEEPY HOLLOW to begin in September might eventually be on TV in France where you are, or otherwise can be watched online by anyone at the fox.com website if/when it is listed under Watch Full Episodes. If you like that one, also search for “Dracula Official Trailer – NBC” at YouTube for the new drama horror thriller TV series beginning on NBC TV in October (just in time for Halloween). If you don’t see it in TV listings in France, then try the NBC website to watch it online, if that’s the kind of series you’d like to watch. The networks are now getting more cutting edge dramas to compete with cable TV stations and pay-TV like HBO.

        For the fun of it, you should consider writing a fiction short story about The Phantom Follower and posting it at your blog.

      • And here’s the link for the preview of the British-American TV series DRACULA starting in October, which I mentioned in my previous comment. I’m fairly sure that one will be viewable in France, or at least watchable online at the NBC TV website. I like how actual history is mixed in with the new drama shows like Sleepy Hollow and this new version of Dracula.

      • Here’s one more I found that looks good with movie quality material…
        Once Upon a Time in Wonderland – New adventure drama fantasy romance and mystery series beginning on ABC TV 7:00pm Thursday 10 October 2013. Safe bet that one will be shown on TV in France too.

  6. Hmmm I have not experienced this yet thank goodness, I wouldn’t mind the serial liker though 🙂

  7. Ciao MM! Still catching up on your posts… I had the same follow/unfollow person as Helen and bumblepuppies (and you?) cdufosse6… several times over several weeks! I was wondering what that was all about! I think you’ve definitely put him/her in their place in your own wonderful style 🙂

  8. Love this! I don’t have any phantom followers, but I do have people who “like” my posts within seconds of me publishing them. There’s no way they can actually have read anything in that time! It’s creepy…

    WordPress suggested I might like your blog, and I do! 🙂

    • Hello, and welcome to the blog 🙂 Serial likers are a pain, and I agree that it’s creepy, and annoying, to think that they are just clicking to get free publicity.
      WordPress suggested you might like my blog? Wow! But…. do you think they read any of it? 😀

  9. Weirder and weirder, MM. A few weeks ago, while in France, i noticed via StaCounter that I’d been visited by a certain cdufosse6@orange.fr. He doesn’t half get around. 😉 However he never actually signed up as a subscriber. Some people just have empty pointless lives, while others write very amusing posts about them. 🙂

      • Oops, that should have read StatCounter. I like it and find it very useful, particularly since Blogger’s own stats are worse than useless. 😦 However the Blogger version of StatCounter uses Javascript which enables more functions, whereas I understand that the non-Javascript WordPress version is much simpler. why not just install it and see? You can always get rid of it if you don’t like it.

  10. loved this (as I loved the “serial killer” one…. you give such great description of the possible reasons why the phantom follower “might” be clicking on the FOLLOW and LIKE buttons, it’s just so funny…… love the allowance for “bad keyboarding skills”…. what an idea MM.
    🙂

      • was in Croatia for a few weeks with limited internet access and no computer. Not fun trying to access info on my small smartphone. I am behind reading blogs + other things.
        In a way it is great to keep away from computers for a while, kind of pixel detox diet… wish would make me thinner… we enjoyed sun, sea, and limoncello instead…. 😉

      • I enjoyed a week without internet, tv and even the phone this summer- it was a real eye-opener and I actually loved it (but only because I knew I’d get it all back when I got home). I’d say that in your case, exchange was definitely no robbery! I’m also behind on reading and blogging – but now the three musketeers are back to the grindstone I should be able to find a bit more time. Glad to see you back, anyway!

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