How my core value of reciprocity and confusion look like spam to WordPress.

Unstated rules and hidden parameters are confusing to me. As a rule-follower by nature and nurture, I appreciate knowing where lines are drawn. Sometimes I need lines drawn with a big, thick, black marker because I’m rather detail impaired.

Well, it seems that I stumbled over some line that WordPress has drawn which is intended to limit spamming. This is how I inadvertently got into today’s pickle.

One of my life and blog cores values is reciprocity, especially when related to my peers and friends:

Earn friendship through reciprocity, generosity, and fun.

I’ve been scratching my head for some time to figure out how to live out reciprocity while blogging. Part 1 is simple. If someone follows me, I follow them (with rare exception.)

On Twitter this is called Follow for Follow #F4F. Regarding Twitter, Crowdfire let’s me see who’s following, who’s not, etc., so I can easily build a reciprocal community.

Part 2 is not so simple. I enjoy following a wide variety of blogs. Yet, unlike Twitter, I’m surprised by how many bloggers don’t follow back. I’m sure there are many good reasons for this but it does break my reciprocity rule. When a blogger tells me that he or she doesn’t want to be connected with me through a follow, I believe them and wish them well.

Since there is no way, that I’m aware of, to track following and unfollowing I tried a workaround. I thought, if I delete blogs off of my Blogs I Follow list that I don’t recognize, if they follow me I can refollow them via my Followers list. Not so fast.

I went to the list of Blogs I Follow, to the oldest followers and started deleting those I didn’t recognize. Glitch 1: the name that shows doesn’t necessarily match the name of the blog. Also, many don’t include a gravatar picture to match the blog either.

Working between the Blogs I Follow list and my Followers list I was cruising along until…I wasn’t allowed to follow back. I did a quick google search on the topic and found a semi-heated forum debate where some members wanted to follow without limit while others appreciated how the limit prevents spamming.

But what I can’t find is the answer to this question. What are the parameters for following blogs without being flagged as a spammer?

In the mean time, I’m able to slowly follow back via my Followers list, although my follow sometimes doesn’t stick. There appears to be a delay and, perhaps confusion, on WordPress’s part as the Follow button turns into a hazy Unfollow button before it turns into a full Following button.

Clearly, my workaround didn’t work out as an easy fix and I do hope my confusion didn’t bother anyone.  And I do want to find a straight-forward way to build a reciprocal community on WordPress. Any suggestions?

How do you manage who you follow and how do you take care of your followers?

Confused in Arizona ~~~~~~~~ Angie Mc

67 thoughts on “How my core value of reciprocity and confusion look like spam to WordPress.

  1. Angie, with my little experience in following/comments etc. I would say you have been very generous and geniuine ever since I first contacted you, don’t be discouraged by those obstacles. As for me, I do feel cared for 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I didn’t even know there was a follow limit! It’s difficult for me to follow back everyone since I already follow so many blogs. Plus, lots of followers seem to be spam accounts. But if a blogger regularly visits and interacts with me on my blog, I will follow them back. The only exception would be if I have absolutely nothing in common with their blog (e.g., a gaming blog). Hope your issue resolves itself soon. No fun to be in blog limbo!

    Liked by 9 people

    • I assume that the follow limit has something to do with how many are followed at a time or within a short amount of time, but there doesn’t seem to be an overall limit. I like how you describe you parameters, Carrie. Thanks!

      Liked by 3 people

  3. you are a kind soul my friend, I am sorry your reciprocity was not returned but please do not take it to heart…sometimes we do not know the reason but we can only control what we do and I am glad that is what you have decided to do ❤

    Liked by 5 people

  4. I also did not realize there was a limit. I wonder if that partially explains the random unfollows that happen unintentionally. I find a lot of my comments at Christmastime were ending up in spam folders when I decided to go around wishing everyone Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas. Is there somewhere the rules are all spelled out?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Your Christmastime example is very interesting. I’m not seeing anything official regarding how to stay out of spam folders. But I can definitely see your example being a possibility! Same message repeated…hmmm. If either of us finds something more concrete, let’s share, OK? Happy weekend to you and your sweet family, Victo ❤

      Liked by 2 people

    • Exactly, Michelle. The main thing I want for everyone who blogs is that they are happy in their blogging. This format has soooo much potential! So many options! I assume the best and wish everyone well in their choices.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m one of those (horrible? sometimes it feels like I’m breaking all sorts of etiquette rules…) people who doesn’t necessarily follow back. On Twitter or with blogs. The reason is simple, really… I assume if people follow me it is because they like what I have to say. When I have the chance to (especially if they engage with me) I check out their blog (and/or twitter). If I like what I see I follow back. I’m much more lax on Twitter than with blogs but… I simply don’t have time to keep up with all the tweets and blog posts! I’d rather be able to actually read what people are posting and engage with them. (As it is I can’t keep up with the blogs and tweeters that I AM following)

    Liked by 4 people

    • Not horrible at all! I think engagement is a great parameter. I find Twitter more lax too and I use lists there to keep up with different groups of people. On WordPress, I do use the Reader but depend more upon using Feedly to group and keep track of blogs. And while I may not read every blog post of every blogger, I do check in regularly with those who I engage with naturally over time. So many great blog posts, so little time!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I have a whopping 9 followers, and I’m grateful for all 9! I follow people, because I’m interested in their content, I don’t follow everyone. I manage them easily because I’m genuinely interested, and want to engage. Those that I don’t want to engage with, I simply don’t follow.

    Liked by 5 people

    • I felt similar when I first started on Twitter. But then I started to see that I could give someone something that they wanted (a follow) so easily and it didn’t cost me a thing. So I started following those who followed me and one thing lead to another. All in all I was happy to give the follows. I brought that thinking over to WordPress, and still like to follow blogs, especially new bloggers. Many times I’ve been thanked for the follow because it is a form of encouragement for some. In a sense, I’m genuinely interested in sharing a bit of happiness, however little. Once I got organized on Feedly, it all fell into place. Those who I engage with naturally over time, go into my Feedly. And I continue to scan my Reader for interesting posts.

      Like

  7. I’m with Mommacarranza. I don’t consider WordPress a “community building” medium, such as Linked-In is for the business world. It’s simply a platform for expressing yourself digitally to whoever finds what you write or photograph or draw interesting. That doesn’t mean you will necessarily find what they write or photograph or draw interesting too. I appreciate follows, even where I don’t follow back, but I have to limit the number of those I follow, so as to be able to really read, and sometimes respond to, what they post. If you were to apply your follow-for-follow rule, how could you possibly keep up with the 11.227 followers WP claims you have? How could you possibly want to? As for what WP dumps as spam, it seems to be commentary that says nothing specifically related to the content of the post being commented on. “Great post,” for instance. Or “Have a good day.” That’s especially true if you don’t usually comment on that post.

    Liked by 3 people

    • So many important points, Nina. Thank you! As for WordPress not being a community building medium I do believe that WP is morphing into much more than what it started as. For example, recently I attended WP Press Publish here in Phoenix which was all about in-person community growth and support and blogging as social media. Not that every blogger needs to take this route, but it is being encouraged. Next, for those who want to connect via more than a follow, I use Feedly to organize and group bloggers according to engagement and content, cool! Next, my 11K plus followers come from connecting my blog to my Twitter feed which has 10K+ followers 😀 I actually have almost 400 blog followers. I’m glad that all of my followers are combined but I only did so in order to have WordPress automatically tweet out my blog posts, which again WP encourages. Next, you’re onto something about the short posts getting dumped. Like Victo shared about “Happy Holidays” at Christmas, I can see where that would get an algorithm’s attention.

      Like

  8. Agreed, ninamishkin. I’m here because I want to connect with those I can relate to, so I know for me to do that well and genuinely I need to limit my followers. 9 seems to be a comfortable number for me right now. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I think the follow back thing works really well for Twitter, but not so much for WP. I’ve also noticed on WP (much like on Twitter) that there are a group of people who’ve created false blogs with the intent to … I dunno, multi-level market or something. “I made a bazillion dollars blogging, ask me how!” type of stuff. I’ve also noticed that there is another group of bloggers out there who seem to follow every single blog that gets made. Now, I have a couple blogs that are not connected to my standard blog in any way, shape, or form, but the same people have followed me. Whenever I make a new blog, boom, there they are. They never comment, never engage, never respond. They are like professional followers, whose only goal is to gin up “followers back” for themselves. They have some kind of product to sell, and that’s all they’re looking for – buyers, not community.

    The WP Reader is nice, I suppose, but on WP, a comment or like is far more valuable to a blogger than a follow, I think. Anyone can follow. A blog buddy comments. That’s how you know someone is interested in being part of a community with you. Lots of blogs aren’t on WP, so the WP Reader is almost useless to me for that reason alone. I follow blogs in my InoReader or Feedly and use those services. When I see a post I feel I can contribute something to, or support the writer in some way, then I’ll comment. But just because I’m not following through WP doesn’t mean I’m not following. 🙂

    A follow back may seem nice, but your time is valuable too, and being judicious in who you follow back is nice too. 🙂

    Oh, and for what it’s worth, I’m glad you’re part of my community, dear Angie. 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are by far my most experienced blogging friend, Ness, so I’m thrilled that you joined in here! I do look at every blog before I follow to ensure that it isn’t spam. I do the same on Twitter and even take the time to report spam when I catch it. I can think of an account that is notorious for mass following, yet I actually got to know the blogger as a real person. I can think of another 2 bloggers who dole out a lot of instant Likes, and I got to know them as well. It really is interesting to see the different blogging styles/habits of others. Since I’m late to the blogging party, I’ve put all of my eggs into WordPress yet agree with your assessment of the limits of WP Reader. When you say you aren’t following through WP, what is the benefit to not letting the blogger know that you are following them via a follow? Just curious? You know I love liking and commenting and following 😀 As for what’s objectively most valuable, I’m reading that it comes down to views and visits. What’s your take on that? I’m so grateful that we’re in this together too, (((Ness))).

      Liked by 1 person

      • The ones I follow through a stand alone Reader, probably know I follow them through me commenting on their posts, which is how we did it before the WP Reader came along. The WP Reader and the like button are kind of late-comers to this party. Most bloggers, at least the ones I knew, were following blogs through things like the now-defunct-but-standard-setting Google Reader, or others like Feedburner. Some people just clicked on the links they had in their blogrolls. You knew someone was following because they commented. Then came FB with their like button and Twitter with its follow button and WP sort of decided to come along.

        I suppose, now that I think about it, blogging was less about accumulating followers than it was just about sharing your thoughts about stuff. I don’t know, other than in a business-related context, what knowing how many followers one has does for a blog? I used to follow the stats thing when it was introduced but then I stopped. It was information that I had no way to utilize in any way.

        Blogging, I think for a lot of people, is like a neighborhood, or front porch sort of thing. You find like-minded folks and connect. We don’t seem to have front porches in real life anymore, so we blog. You come visit at my “house,” I go visit at yours, we swap stories or ideas, share a virtual cup of coffee, then get back to whatever demands our real life makes on us. I suppose a like is sort of like a wave, like when you see a neighbor at the grocery store. Lots of people find a follow to be useful, especially if they’re pretty much exclusive to the WP, or BlogSpot, community. That’s probably like a wave too, but more of a one-time thing. You can only follow once. Same with likes. They’re static. Comments are dynamic. I think that’s why people feel so dissed when their comments don’t get responses – they feel like they’ve spent all that time talking to someone, only to be ignored. I mean, you know, within a reasonable amount of time, a week or so at the most probably. Some people only catch up with blogs on the weekends, that sort of thing.

        To make a short story long, I guess the WP follow thing is a habit I never got into, because I used Readers before WP even had a follow. That’s just my habit now I suppose. Sometimes I do it, to get posts in my email, but overall, not for much else.

        Oh, while I’m thinking of it, you mentioned going through your Feedly – if you create a category, something called “Trial blogs” or whatever, you can put blogs you’re thinking about following in that to start, and then move them to a more permanent category later if/when you find they follow back or you’ve engaged with that blogger on a more regular basis. That’s something I started doing a long time ago and found it really works to help keep the blog flotsam sorted from the blog gold. 🙂 Heh, yet another reason not to use the WP Reader – no organizing! LOL *hugs*

        Liked by 2 people

      • We’re up too late, Ness! Thank you soooo much for this explanation! And I do have this theory that all social media outlets are melding into something new, depending upon how people pick and choose their combination of media. It will be cool to see how it all integrates, or doesn’t. AND your “Trial blogs” suggestion is awesome! Why didn’t I think of that?! Flotsam from gold, exactly 😀 And, yes, if I see that someone engages with me through comments but doesn’t follow me, which is rare, I still follow them because of the engagement. I figured that they were following me somehow, which is great. HUGS and sweet dreams, friend ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I was not aware there were rules to following. Where are they stated? When someone follows me, I read their posts and usually return the follow. I enjoy the diversity of blogs. Often, however, I do not receive the posts from some bloggers and have to re-connect. That happened recently, and my blogger friend told me to un-follow her and then re-follow right away. That worked. WP is wonderful most of the time, but I keep it simple.I have received an education in this blogging world today from all of you. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I enjoy a diversity of blogs too, Patricia! And for the record, when we first connected I thought surely you would cringe at my poor grammar – sorry! And to your question, It appears that there aren’t written rules about this, at least not that I’ve found! Twitter is similar, there are unwritten rules and I got thrown into “Twitter Jail” because of a similar issue where certain behaviors mimic spammers. In that case, I replied to too many group tweets that included folks who didn’t follow me back. Once more people followed me, I never ran into that problem again. You are right, WP is *wonderful* and learning new things, to include little work-around, is part of the fun. You’re most welcome and Happy Sunday ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Wow. Very interesting post and comments. I really like what Vanessence had to say on this topic. I’m fairly knew to blogging but I have developed some guidelines for navigating the WP world. Mostly it comes down to who I am engaged with. If someone is commenting on my blog then they taking time and effort to converse with me and so of course I will follow their blog. But my problem is time. If I follow a blog that means I read every single post and comment on just about every post. I engage in a conversation nine times out of ten. But that takes time and effort. And some of you crazy cats post every day and when you times that by even a dozen or so blogs you’re looking at a hell of a time commitment. And then on top of that I have my own blog where I put a lot of effort into every post and then have my wife edit it. For me, my blog is a way work on my craft which is writing. And I absolutely respond to every comment and engage fully with everyone who has taken the time to read and comment. But all of this takes a hell of a lot of time so I need to be discerning about who I follow.

    Liked by 4 people

    • John, I do hope that you and Ness connect. She is engaging, generous, and very knowledgable about blogging. I really like your guidelines and see you as one of the most generous commenters out there, thank you! I’m crazy impressed that you read every single post. I’m an avid blog reader but miss some, then focus on staying in touch with bloggers. How this ends up looking is me scanning my Feedly while making sure that I read at least one post from each blogger. As for being a crazy cat, this phase of daily posts will come to a natural end as soon as I’ve made every mistake in the book, suffered needlessly, and am ready for a new groove. You’re welcome 😀 Your writing shines, John, and it is a privilege to watch your craft in action. Pretty cool to know that your wife is your editor. You two make a good team ❤ Happy Sunday, friend!

      Liked by 2 people

    • I agree with most of this, but I don’t think a Follow means I need to read every post. Please don’t feel that way about my blog. For me, a follow is “I like you, I shall read you again!” I read what interests me. Otherwise, I’d be reading blogs all day and all night.

      Liked by 3 people

      • I’m finding this is happening to me. I’ve been thinking recently that I need to modify what I read because, as you say, I’m going to end up reading blogs all day and night. I think I will put less pressure on myself and read and comment on what interests me and not feel so obligated. I’m still learning. Thanks for this.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I agree with John … It’s time, or rather not enough of it. I do my best to keep up, but I miss a lot of posts. I do try to respond to every comment on my blog. I guess it all comes down to finding a balance.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. I kind of manage it like Carrie…I follow almost everyone that follows me, except for those that blog about things i don’t want any part of…very few…the interaction is where I try and reciprocate…if someone reaches out to me with a comment, I try really hard to make sure I have reciprocated comments on their blogs…my check is when I publish a new blog…I go through all comments on my previous post to make sure I have commented on those blogs that commented on mine. (I also didn’t realize there was a limit on “following”…thanks for sharing)

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Honestly, Angie, I am so out of it. I try not to pay too much attention because the whole thing is so vastly confusing and causes me anxiety. I just hope that whoever stumbles across one of my posts will find the time to read and/or comment and vice versa. Occasionally I realize I haven’t heard from someone in a while and find that I have somehow “unfollowed” them which does trouble. Hope you work out a way to get the answers you need to this questions. I’m keeping my head down and pretending everything’s okay!! LOL.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I try to follow my followers, but when they reach in the hundreds, it is too much. Most bloggers I believe look for topics of interest and breeze through reading what is relevant to their interests. There are rare occasions when you run across a blogger that is crass with remarks and that is when you may want to spam him or her.

    Blogging is supposed to be fun.

    Regards and goodwill blogging.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Yes, much too late! LOL I’m so sorry – I tend to get very wordy when I’m on the tired side. I didn’t mean to take up so much room in your comments section. Thanks for being so patient and understanding with me, sweet Angie! *hugs* ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I wouldn’t put to much stock into it, I’ve found that the more followers and people I follow it gets tougher and tougher to keep up with EVERYBODY and blog posts slip through the cracks. I have a lot of people I follow for their “personal” blogs but when they venture off into poetry or something that isn’t my cup of tea I just skip over. You are very engaging with me and I try to do so like wise. So keep up the good work and the rest will take care of itself!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Gary, and great thoughts here. And I chuckled when I read your poetry comment, I’m guilty! But I’ve only veered off 3 times into fledgling poetry, at the encouragement of my poetic friends, but you are right! I wouldn’t expect you or anyone to read it if it’s not their thing (or if it is their thing and they don’t want to suffer it, lol.) Great outlook!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. The rules are not able to be stated because the true spammers will abuse them. It is based off some algorithm of content, frequency, and time. Main idea is as so many put it keep up with the frequent interactors and hope to get so many that it becomes difficult to keep up with.

    It would be nice to follow everyone, but it would be too cumbersome on the servers over time and would be too time consuming unless a person was making their living from blogging. It would be nice, but bloggers are not buyers.

    Regards,
    Clifford T Mitchem
    Advocare Distributor
    Nutrition + Fitness = Health
    http://www.AdvoCare.com/13087657

    Liked by 1 person

    • “algorithm of content, frequency, and time” <- this! I do think we'll see the day when the algorithm (or whatever) can distinguish between a spammer and a blogger who just goofed, but a need for limits will remain for reasons you share, Clifford. I really appreciate your perspective on this, especially as an entrepreneur. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

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