Blogging Chat: The WordPress Reader and Like-for-Like

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The WordPress Reader can be a fascinating place to poke around and look at other people’s blog-ish habits. One of the things that interests (and puzzles) me is the like-for-like phenomenon. I think there are a fair number of people who do this, and there are some bloggers that I notice liking so many posts that I have strong doubts as to whether they’re actually reading (or even opening) all of those posts that they’re liking.

The like-for-like phenomenon becomes particularly obvious when you come across blogs with high engagement numbers but content that does not in any way warrant such numbers.

One example is a site that posts printer drivers. A post with drivers for the HP Envy Pro 6455 got 86 likes, because really, who wouldn’t want to read that, and who doesn’t have an HP Envy Pro 6455?

That pales in comparison, though, to the 252 likes for a font site’s post with download info for a font called Not Bad. Because again, who doesn’t want to include that in their day?

Or you’ve got the real estate company that does blog posts in Spanish and gets >200 likes per post from a lot of non-Spanish-sounding bloggers.

In turn, if you want to get a bunch of likes on your posts, you could probably look at the people who are liking posts on the printer driver and font sites and go and like their posts to climb aboard the like-for-like express.

Does anyone remember Sebastian? He was around last year and for a little while this year liking a whole bunch of posts, often within seconds of people publishing them. There were multiple reports about him on the support forum (including here, here, here, here, and here), and WP did take away his ability to like posts in the Reader, although it sounds like he kept creating new accounts and they had to do some chasing to keep up with him. And if you’re as fascinated by Sebastian as I am, Google “relatocorto” (the oh-so-creative name of his website, which translates to “short story”), and you’ll see that he’s managed to convince Google that he’s a legit place of business.

People do this kind of thing because it “works”, and people will keep doing it as long as there are people who will participate in like-for like. I remember Sebastian used to get a shit ton of likes on his posts (which probably resulted in him making money off the ads he had on his site). He has a Buy Me A Coffee page, and he’s had a lot of coffees bought for him, although I suspect that a chunk of that is him using other accounts to buy coffees for himself to make it look like he’s popular.

Like-for-like may be a pretty effective way to get a lot of (pretty meaningless) likes, but the artificiality of it really doesn’t do it for me. Is this something you’ve noticed or participated in?

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73 thoughts on “Blogging Chat: The WordPress Reader and Like-for-Like”

  1. I don’t like posts if I haven’t read them and I don’t follow many blogs as I don’t have time to read them. Therefore not joining in with the like for like or follow for follow game I don’t have a vast number of followers and get very few likes on my blog. But at least I know that when I do get a like or comment it is genuine.

  2. At times I feel like I am not getting many likes/ follows because I don’t go liking content on internet or following people at random. But I do believe that having one person who actually reads and likes your content is more important than number of people mindlessly hitting the like button.

  3. Thank you Ashley for highlighting the way people use or abuse ‘like’ button.
    Out of 3000 and odd followers I just get on a average 35 likes per post. And approximately 100 URLs I can’t even open to see what their blogs looks like!
    Out of 3000+ followers I have, less than 100 keep in touch with me.
    Since mine is a photograph based blog, it goes without saying, interaction in the form of comments are minimum.
    Yeah…how can one forget ‘Sebastian’!
    None could resist his ‘likes’!
    Bots are extremely busy these days.
    AI can play havoc!

      1. Could not agree more Ashley.
        What is that they want us to do by following us?
        What is that they wish to achieve?
        Surely they know that we follow them in return only when we like their topics.
        It’s a mystery to me.
        As I always tell everybody…’ likes’ are OK…whether the person really read our articles are not.
        ‘Likes’ are in other words- ‘dopamine’ to all of us.
        Likes can sustain a blogger’s ability to continue his/her journey in the blogosphere.
        But for the ‘likes’ the bloggers would wind up the show.
        These are my personal thoughts.
        But as you mentioned ‘like for alike’ or follow for a follow’…’s weird!
        Thank you, Ashley.

  4. I don’t recall the Sebastian fiasco… perhaps it was before my time in the blogosphere! Or maybe I somehow missed it! I have had a lot of spammers on my page though and sometimes they even contact me directly. I do like to engage with other bloggers, in part to bring traffic to my own page but also because I do generally like seeing what’s out there. With travel, photography, and gardening blogs being a favorite. I definitely like to at least breeze through what I’m liking before I like it – you never know what you might find on a person’s blog page!

  5. Yeah, I’ll hold my hand up here. I never used to ‘like’ more than I’d read and comment on, but I’ve been struggling keeping up for a while now and I like to try to support as many people as I can, so if there are bloggers I don’t usually follow who’ve ‘liked’ something of mine, they may get a like back. Usually I skim the post rather than give it a full read. I don’t have the focus let alone the time or energy to do more, even though I’d like to. All bloggers I follow and enjoy I try to read, comment, share, etc. I actually have a printer driver and font person that like my posts semi-regularly – I even follow a font person as I’ve downloaded some free fonts from them before. What I don’t like, because I get email notifications for new ‘likes’, is when someone clearly has you on the WP Reader and goes down clicking ‘like’ on all your posts. In under a minute, I’ve got 25 emails to say the same person apparently likes all of these posts they probably couldn’t care less about. That I don’t like. xx

    1. Yeah, it’s definitely not subtle when people do that, and it’s unlikely to earn people likes in return.

      I think the people who are more on the ball will go through either their Reader feed or tags in the Reader and like a whole bunch of posts without reading them in the hopes of getting likes in return. When they do it that way, it gives the impression that the printer driver blog or font blog people are actually reading people’s posts when they’re almost certainly not and just trying to earn likes-for-likes. Because people like you are nice, the printer drivers blog get a bunch of likes for just doing a slightly more sophisticated version of liking 25 of a blogger’s posts in under a minute.

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