Blogging and Writing

Serial Liking on WordPress

Serial liking on WordPress - WordPress logo surrounded by like buttons

Chances are that if you’ve been on WordPress for a few weeks, you’ve come across one form of serial liker.  We’ll talk briefly about that, but the focus of this post will be on a type of serial liker that flies under the radar.

The obvious type I’ll refer to as the rapid-fire liker.  You’ll get 20 notifications within 2 seconds that someone has mass liked 20 or more of your posts.  There’s no possible way they could have read 20 posts in 2 seconds.  Presumably, they think that by hijacking your notifications, you will be curious enough that you’ll click on over to their site.

I can’t imagine this ever works, though; all it’s likely to do is annoy people.  So why do people keep doing it?  I honestly have no idea.

Now, on to the subtle type of serial liker.  Not too long ago, WordPress added the feature that when you hover over the like button, there will be a little popup that shows who’s already liked the post.  I didn’t like it then and don’t like it now; it just feeds into the whole comparing yourself to others trap.

However, it also makes the subtle serial liker more visible.  Sometimes I’ll search through a few mental health-related tags in the WordPress Reader looking for new mental health blogs to follow.  I’m not actually reading posts on these expeditions, I’m just following blogs that write about things that interest me so I can read them later when their posts show up in my feed. As a result, I’m moving along pretty quickly.  While doing this, I started noticing that there were a few people liking A LOT of posts under these tags.  Not that many people were doing this, but once I noticed, it was hard to ignore, and it triggered my inner Nancy Drew.

There’s no way to know for sure how many of these people are actually reading all of these posts, but given the numbers for some of them, there’s no way that they’re reading all of them.  Some people genuinely do read a lot, and are truly active in the blogging community, but presumably at least some of these people are serial likers who, at least some of the time, are liking without reading.

This produces some interesting patterns that can be seen on small blogs, particularly those with under 10 followers.   For most of us, only a fraction of our followers read and like each post.  That’s a very normal experience.  But sometimes, I see blogs with perhaps 2 or 3 followers get around 10 likes on a few posts here and there, but almost none on most of their other posts.  That’s not a “normal” pattern. There also seems to be a pattern of no comments.

So, who are the serial likers?  In many cases, they seem to be people with fairly high (and in some cases very high) follower numbers.  Like I already mentioned, it’s impossible to know who’s reading and who’s not, but from what I’ve seen, I would guess the group that doesn’t read is relatively small.

One mental health blogger I recognized caught my eye several times, and on one occasion, I noticed that they liked almost all of the posts under the depression tag in a 17 hour period.  Depression’s a popular tag, and 17 hours is a whole lotta posts.

What’s the point of this kind of serial liking?  My guess is that it’s a growth strategy, and it appears to be a fairly effective one.  New bloggers in particular are probably more likely to visit the blog of someone who’s liking their posts.

This probably bugs me more than the rapid-fire likers.  Rapid-fire likers are easy to spot and write off as being spammy.  On the other hand, it’s hard for someone to recognize subtle serial likers without some detective work.  It really doesn’t matter if people are serial liking my posts, but the part I don’t like is that it can send a misleading message to newer/smaller bloggers.

Now, it’s possible that my interpretation is full of crap; it’s hard to say.  It’s certainly not the kind of thing that would have been easily noticeable before WordPress brought in the new likes feature.

I know that some people don’t see likes as being at all meaningful because of things like this,. However, I think it can be a genuine form of appreciation for other bloggers (at least that’s how I use it), and it’s unfortunate that there are people who misuse it.

Have you ever noticed this kind of pattern?

And on a side note that’s not particularly related, I’m curious about whether people “like” their own blog posts.  I know some people do this, but I’ve never been able to figure out why.  It’s not that I think there’s anything the least bit wrong with it; I just can’t figure out what it would accomplish.  Can anyone enlighten me?

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109 thoughts on “Serial Liking on WordPress”

  1. I always try to read and comment on posts that I follow because, as a blogger, I get most satisfaction and enjoyment out of the interaction. I have definitely come across serial likers though.

    1. I read too much and don’t have have enough brainpower to comment on everyone, but it’s definitely a clearer way of being present.

      1. Yes time and brain power are an issue! If I’m honest I try to avoid following blogs where people post multiple times a day. I know I won’t be able to keep up.

          1. Liking your own post may seem like an unimportant thing to to. Unconsciously though, it’s important. It sort of gives you the feeling that even if one one likes it, you like it. Personally, I like my own content before anyone else. Be it on social media or wherever. Feels pretty gangster to me.

            About the serial liking…loool. I was doing some of that a few minutes ago. Just to get content to pop on my feed since it’s been a while since I blogged on WordPress. Then boom! I stumbled on your blog. And here I am. More than 400 words later.

            Your article is amazing. I don’t just like it. I love it.

  2. I’ve had this happen to me. Someone take up my entire notification feed in a matter of seconds. But my site is so small I can see the disparity in analytics.

    I wish I had more time to read the blogs I follow. I feel bad sometimes because so many seem to read my stuff and care about my journey and I feel like I don’t reciprocate enough.

    This is a great post. I’ve thought about it too, but this really encapsulates the “weirdness” of it. 😊

    1. It is weird. And we’ve only got different patterns and different amounts of time available, but some patterns clearly aren’t normal.

  3. Oh, man! I am sure I appear to be a crazy liker at times… Especially during this homeschooling pandemic and everyone is up my ace all the time! My time is so limited. So now I have maybe 2 days to even look at my blog and only a couple hours at a time. I reading as fast as I can and writing like a maniac, trying to schedule things out but I fall behind all the time so when I want to get caught up I hide some place in my house that no one will find me. Then I give myself an hour to connect as much as I can.
    Hi my name is Sarah and I think I might be a serial liker… but I actual read what I like! 🤪

    1. I feel like people who don’t have a lot of time and read in spurts are a very different creature than the the people who like without reading. The former is genuine, the latter is not.

  4. I agree with you that serial liking is bothersome! It feels like the online version of false/manipulative flattery! And I have no idea what liking one’s own post really accomplishes…my guess is that it’s to boost the number of likes, but I’m not sure how one extra like makes a huge difference.

  5. I don’t think I’ve ever had serial liking (although I’ve turned off the notification for likes on my posts), but a lot of the likes I do get look like they come from spammy sites rather than real ones. I don’t get many likes, so it’s quite easy to see where they’re coming from.

    1. I think because blogs that aren’t searchable don’ts show up under tags in the WP Reader, the people cruising through tags and liking a bunch of posts aren’t even going to see your blog.

      1. I was assuming that they do show up under tags, because I do seem to get follows from people that I wasn’t aware I was interacting with. Not sure where they come from in that case.

          1. Interesting. That was what I initially expected when I made my blog hidden, until I started getting more followers. I wonder where those followers are coming from then.

  6. Yes, some followers do this. It used to make me feel obligated to check their blog and read a post or two and at least like them if not comment. But I don’t care anymore. I’ve even unfollowed most of them because their blogs aren’t interesting and yet it still happens.

    I have a smaller number of posts in my feed now, but I still like without commenting on many things I read. I simply don’t have the energy…

    1. I’ve tried to stick to only following back blogs I’m actually interested in reading, because you’re right, there’s only so much energy.

      What annoyed me was seeing someone who claims to be very community-oriented doing serial liking. People can do what they want, but might as well be up front about it.

      1. “I’ve tried to stick to only following back blogs I’m actually interested in reading, because you’re right, there’s only so much energy.”

        This 👍🏼👍🏼

  7. 🙂 I was a target for serial likers from day one on WordPress.

    Those people who are doing the serial liking obviously want attention.

    The “Like” button comes in handy for those people that are way too shy to leave a comment.

    In my case, I view meaningful comments as more valuable than likes; anyone can press the “Like” button, but not everyone is capable of leaving thoughtful comments in the comments section of other people’s blogs.

  8. I’ve experienced this from time to time. Especially from new followers and suddenly my phone goes totally off with notifications 🤣And like you wrote , my curiosity takes over and I head over to their blog. I must admit I don’t have all the time to read a lot of blogs but when I do it’s because they speak to me or the headlines are interesting.

  9. I try to read posts of people that I follow and comment only if I feel I have something to say, or if I remember, sometimes il read a post in between doing something and then get distracted and completely forget. Being relatively new to blogging I haven’t noticed it a lot but just on the odd occasion I find my phone going crazy with someone liking post after post which is fine, but a lot of time and effort goes into posts and you want genuine likes and opinions and not for them to just be used to gain new followers.
    I haven’t ever liked any of my own posts, I mean I like them because I wrote and posted it but I don’t physically click the like button.

    1. If I tried to comment on every post i read I’d only be able to read a small percetage of what I read now. The weird patterns of liking were something I only noticed pretty pretty recently as I was looking through tags. It wasn’t something I’d really seen (or at least paid attention to) on my own blog.

  10. Huh. I don’t think I “like” my own posts, but I do “like” my comments on facebook whenever someone starts arguing with me there. Recently, I posted on Frasier’s fan page that I hated Daphne, right? People flipped out and started making me feel bad about myself, so I “liked” all of my replies, which said things like, “What, I’m not entitled to my own opinion?” ‘Cause I felt the need to defend myself, so I “liked” what I was saying. Huh.

  11. Wow!!! I get this too… Like atleast once a day, there’s a new person liking all my posts… Sometimes I even find comments from them, one word comment ‘Beautiful’ … I usually revert with thank you, although it’s impossible for them to read all the posts they have liked and commented on in the timeframe they did… People do what they do… I just sit back, be polite and enjoy life 😂😂😂

  12. I’ve only ever liked my own post by mistake 😂😂
    I still don’t really understand blogging if I’m totally honest. I just read the blogs on sites I follow and usually comment, but not always. I don’t even look at my stats, mainly because I don’t understand the stats page!! 😊

    1. Better not to look – there’s not much that’s actually helpful there. Except it is interesting to see all the different countries people come from.

  13. We have never clicked like on our own posts. If we discovered someone we followed liked their own posts, we would probably interpret that positively: self-love, self-compassion, etc.

    We do not automatically “like” every post we read, either. Is that weird or unconventional?

    When we get a new follower or a new-person like on a specific post, we might click to them if the blog name is interesting or mental health specific. We are surprised how many are hardcore business/marketing or lifestyle blogs. We’d like to think they are people who write about X and also have mental health they tend to but really wonder if it’s trying to get followers for them because they do not leave comments and do not like future posts. We are also surprised at how many likes/follows come from people whose blog does not exist. Readers only?

    Honestly, we look for new blogs in the comments of other blogs we follow. We have used “search” before using keywords and that is a cluster fuck for us and too overwhelming

    Ashley, you are such a sweet gem 💎 💕💙❤️

    1. I like posts I read if they interest me or resonate with me in some way. I try to only follow blogs I’m interested in, so as a result I end up liking most of what I read.

      Most of the new followers I get don’t seem to ever actually read my blog, and presumably they’re just fishing for people who automatically follow back.

      The people whose blog doesn’t exist probably actually do have a blog, but sometimes it seems like people will have changed their domain name, but their Gravatar is linked back to their old site address that’s no longer valid. WordPress really should do something to alert people like this, because it happens a lot, and people aren’t even aware of it.

      You are lovely gems too! 💎💎💎💎

      1. There could be blogs we’re missing out on because people don’t know their link is broken! Maybe you could post about that one in your Sunday series? 💎

  14. Yep I’ve seen this, too, and it always makes me wonder lol. That being said, I may come across as one of Those People myself at times lol. Sometimes it has to do with not having the brain power to do anything else but hit the button. And I get insomnia a lot, so sometimes I’ll camp out on a blog I’ve taken a particular liking to and do some serious serial-reading lol. Other people might have different purposes, though, so I guess it depends 😊

    1. When I see serial reading from bloggers that I recognize, nothing strikes me as being off about that. What’s amusing is when I’m in the WordPress reader and I see 25 likes pop up in 2 seconds. Speedy fingers!

  15. This conversation has been had before. Not with you, but with other people who have expressed either curiosity about the like phenomenon (like you) OR by those who are insulted if someone likes their post and doesn’t read it. I don’t know how one can tell if someone has or has not read the post. For myself, even if I read a post (and I admit I don’t read all the posts I ‘like’), I may not comment. I tend to be overly verbose (as will be proven in this comment). I am rather ashamed of that and so I mostly ‘like’ and shut up. I use ‘like’ (which I wish they’d take off all together or make optional) to say “Hi! I saw your post. I’m glad you wrote it. I scanned it (speed reading sometimes) and I have nothing of value to SAY, so I’m ‘liking’. I wish Word Press would get a “Hi, I dropped in” type ‘like’.

    For myself? I don’t ‘like’ for numbers, to increasing my own blog traffic or for any reason particularly, just as mentioned above. Maybe I’ll just stop liking all together. It’s getting onerous having to explain why I even use the thing at all.

    Lastly, I “like” people I read regularly (read the whole post all the way through), and people I consider as blogging friends. To me? It’s polite and usually, yes I DO like the post they’ve taken the time to write.

    It’s complicated, isn’t it? Maybe I just make it overly so.

    1. I’ve wondered the same thing about people who complain about the likes without reading. Aside from the times when you get 25 likes in 2 seconds from the same person, you really have no idea. Things start to become a lot more apparent if you search by tag in the Reader. I don’t care if people read my own blog, but I don’t like the idea of that strategy being used with newbie bloggers.

      I like the like button. I don’t have enough gas in the mental tank to comment on all or even most of the posts I read. And how much of a post I actually reads also depends on the as in the mental tank. If I was able to read 10% and that 10% was good, I’m clicking like.

      I think it all comes down to intentions. People are going to approach things their own way, but as long as they’re not trying to mislead others, power to ’em.

  16. I like what I like after I read the post entirely. Sometimes the subject matter is quiet dark but someone told me early on that a like on WP is not the same as a like on FB. Basically it was explained to me as a form acknowledgement. Sort of an I see you and I hear you.

    I stopped myself from liking this post so as not to be seen as a serial liker. Not sure I quite understand how that even happens but sounds it bad. I do not want to inadvertently contribute to the problem.

    1. Don’t worry, you’re not contributing to the problem at all. I think genuine readers are usually pretty easy to spot.

      I also like as an I see/hear you. There are a fair number of posts that i’ve “liked” without liking the content in the usual sense, e.g. about suicide.

      My concentration isn’t always good enough to read through an entire post, but if I made an effort and liked what I did read, I’m quite happy to click like. There’s a big difference between trying and just clicking like in the Reader without even opening posts.

  17. This happens to me often. Few bloggers with huge followers visit on a random day, like all my posts and there’ll be a sudden spike in stats. It’s really annoying at times.

    Regarding your final question, I like the posts on my own blog at times. It’s because mine is a blog with two authors. If I like the other one’s content, I click on like. Does that sound weird?

  18. I’m very new to blogging and I don’t understand likes – I get that it says “I like what I read” but does it do anything else?

      1. OK, so it is all about just expressing that you like what you read and disingenuous likes undercut that.
        Then I really don’t get why anyone would like something they haven’t even read! There’s only a downside!

  19. I am one of serial likers, and all the serial likesr are welcome to my blog.
    I had a positive feedback and results from the serial likers (Which I don’t like the phrase serial likers unless you are joking).
    Some of my serial likesr became a good friends and great reader to my blog.
    I hope that I added my one cent!

  20. I *liked* your post, Ashley. Lol.

    Seriously, I noticed that serial liking thing (see one person’s many likes on my posts in under a minute, via email notification) and realise that it just isn’t possible to read all of that in that time frame. Maybe done for return follows? I don’t see it as being friendly. I’d rather receive genuine likes. Rather one genuine like than a bunch of fake ones.

    I do find it overwhelming at times visiting everyone’s blog. There just isn’t enough time. Or, I’m finding it rather difficult to connect with others – I live a hermit’s life due to chronic illness; sometimes I seek out a fellow WP blogger’s company, other times I’d rather connect at a later date; but ALWAYS I only follow bloggers who I enjoy and wish to likewise support.

    Love to you and Piggies xox

    1. We’ve all got to juggle what we have the time and energy for. But being genuine wins out over being fake any day.

      Love right back to you!

  21. I “like” posts that I read, as a form of acknowledgment and showing support even when I don’t have the spoons to comment. I do that on Instagram too.

    I haven’t had a serial-like-spammer in a while, maybe because my blog shows in the Reader and not on search engines. I like it that way!

    The thing about spamming likes on tags in the Reader is new to me – I’ll keep in eye out. I tend to search tags once every few months to find blogs to follow. Though I am starting to struggle to keep up.

  22. Great post, Ashley. Small confession – I’m not alone I’m sure – in “Like-Bombing” some posts that I haven’t read … and I feel like a dink for doing it (mostly), though it’s typically a response to my site being hit with similar rapid-fire likes. Those I do read, which are many and really need to be pared a down considerably for time, I’m genuine with likes and comments. As far as liking my own stuff, I’m sure I haven’t unless it’s been by an errant tap on my iPhone.

    1. Errant taps are one of the reasons I prefer my laptop to my phone. I have clunky fingers and who knows what trouble they’d get into if given half a chance.

      1. I despise the rapid-fire likers. Everytime a new Blogger likes a post, I sit and wait for the rapid-fire,, 8/10 times it happens. I don’t see it as a useful growth strategy – it’s annoying as fuck and let’s me know not to follow them. Maybe you should start a little Nancy Drew series and share your observations/findings – would be fun to read! 💚

          1. Beats me, do not see the point in it at all. Like, I’m all for superpowers and super sonic reading could be handy, but we ain’t in a comic book!

  23. I have definitely noticed some parts of this, and I am impressed at your serial liker sleuthing 🙂 I figure a lot of people on here are probably trying to build a platform and up their numbers and that’s why they serial like. The patterns are sure interesting though. And no, I don’t like my own posts.

      1. I know sometimes after I leave a comment I’ll notice the ‘like’ hasn’t stuck, so I end up reliking something a couple of times trying to get it to stick then have to go back to the previous posts to make sure the like has stuck there. Not sure if people get email notifications each time I’ve had to do that though. They probably think I’ve commented before reading the post and was indecisive over whether I like or hate the posts! 😂

  24. Particularly in the last few days, I’ve had several serial likers, liking 20+ posts within seconds? What’s all that about. And one of them said, “I love your blog and I’m going to tell all my coworkers about it.” She’d just finished liking 40+ posts within a minute. I don’t see the point of it at all.

  25. What coincidental timing – I get email notifications for likes and I do notice the ones where you get someone liking a couple of posts in quick succession, so the emails are timed at the same time. Yesterday though, annoyingly as I was alerted by Hotmail that I’m very short on storage, I had someone like about 80 posts within the space of a minute. That sort of thing I don’t return the courtesy of with taking a look at their blog. xx

  26. I follow a small number of blogs because I truly want to keep up on who I follow and can’t handle too many. I attribute my small post likes and lack of comments to this but my stats show that people are viewing them so at least I know my audience is there by that.

  27. Oh yes, I’ve noticed the covert likers on a subject. Anxiety is popular too. I sometimes do search new blogs under the tag of depression of mental health and once you do it becomes quite obvious that the like button can be uses to ‘lure’ new bloggers in.
    I think it can work for a while but when you don’t really engage (and I think the bigger blogs maybe won’t) it will not continue. But yes, they will have a new follower who can be a follower for a long time.
    It’s the same technique Mc Donalds uses, reach them when they’re ‘young’ and they will return.

  28. I do definitely have my suspicions that people are liking my posts without reading them. I have a serialized novel on my blog and one chapter was called “Believe All Women” but the whole chapter is a criticism of the believe all women movement, with a false accusation and everything. The first like I got on that post was from a feminist blog. I don’t think they read it. Maybe I’m wrong though and they just have a really nuanced take.

  29. I tend to read a lot of the Mental Health Blogs. I try to read all of the posts from the bloggers I follow, even if it’s just reading the email I get sent. I dont always get chance to leave a comment though.

        1. No, not at all. I was including myself in that too. If I were to comment on every post I read, I would only be able to read maybe 10% of what I read now.

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