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Terms-of-use-violators can effectively roam freely (?)

  1. The automatic and manual measures that are in place to keep terms-of-use violations out of the community don't work, because people who want to do it simply use the means that are still available, but it is not an acceptable state, while there could be more means.
    One of the necessary means would be that (understandably) often-asked-for selective blocking of followers, maybe connected with other means to have at least SOME consequences for behavior like that.
    Here an exemplary case to clarify what I mean:

    There is a reporting feature for blogs that violate WordPress' terms of use, and among those abuses is running pyramid schemes, get-rich-quick schemes, multi level marketing and such exploits. But that report feature is only for WordPress-hosted blogs, so I don't know whether you really expect anyone wanting to run a scheme like that to use WordPress for hosting. Of course not. But they will use their Gravatar identity to follow blogs, which allows them to run their schemes, among other things for posting spam. And again, of course they will not post spam under their own identity. Seriously, did you ever believe that?

    So there's a guy running a scheme like that, shady, typical conman, fits the usual pattern. His blog is self-hosted. He posted ad-spam on my blog (that I had to filter out manually because it was - again, of course - skillfully avoiding spam filters). And he follows my blog using his Gravatar identity. And I can't do anything about it. Gravatar is part of the whole WordPress thing, right? So where's the consequential action? If a blog can be shut down for violating the terms of use, then shouldn't the same apply to the account of the person doing these things?
    In case there are any legal concerns with extending measures like this officially, then it should be an elegant solution to actually give the blog owners themselves the ability to make that decision. That would be a pretty effective means of getting spammers and conmen out of the community. Why does Blogger allow this and WordPress not? Good question. Different approaches of course, but if I look at how much I am being urged by social media sites to link to all kinds of people, I guess for businesses like this it means more money to have users cross-linked in all directions. It bothers me. Blogger would be exemplary proof that it is possible to allow users that degree of control.

    On a broader scale (but that's probably much less easy to fix) there's also the sad reality that your follower list can be pretty much useless, when it doesn't reflect people being interested in your blog activity. In some cases the majority of it can be simply other people wanting to advertise for their own blogs that way. Some of them might not be as shady as others, but the fact is that at least half of my followers so far are more or less dubious online marketers.

    The blog I need help with is dowlphinblog.wordpress.com.

  2. How'd you like to put that in the Ideas forum?

  3. Thanks, I'm new to WordPress and didn't realize there is one.
    Dunno if this can or should be moved or whether I should make a second post there and cross-refer them.

  4. I made a suggestion yesterday that would help a bit - allow subscribers to be excluded from being displayed on your followers list

    http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic/porno-followers-fix?replies=3

  5. @dowlphinblog

    I've moved this topic to the ideas forum so there is no need for you to re-post. The modlook tag on this thread will alert staff that you have posted a new idea. If you subscribe to this thread then you will be notified when there is a response.

    Your concerns have been posted and noted and spoken of in the past, but perhaps a new viewpoint will inspire a response which will satisfy the many others who have brought these issues to the forefront.

  6. Thank you very much.

  7. Tess, it's good to have you back.

  8. I second that emotion! :)

    FWIW-The "report abuse" link has returned to Gravatar profiles. You'll find it at the very bottom of the sidebar on any profile on Gravatar.

  9. Hm, but I doubt that based on the current policies the mentioned case would qualify. It would involve a chain of events and I guess it would take a sincerely passionate and vigorous intent to cause anything to happen from a report like that . The intent that would have made follower-blocking an option by now.
    Still, it might take some detailed explaining (= effort), but I can pretty much prove on a reasonable level that the guy posted spam on my blog, too, and doesn't just have a shady website as his homepage in his Gravatar profile.

  10. Follower blocking has some problems - one being that a legitimate follower has a web site that you just plain don't like (your blog is for family activities for an example - someone with an adult blog might have a family and like to do family activities) - the suggestion I made in the link above was to allow the blocking of the DISPLAY of a follower - not delete a follower -

  11. @rain and @jen— thank you! I'm coming back slowly. A lot has changed during my absence! ≥^!^≤

  12. @auxclass
    How is that a problem? If someone whose blog I follow dislikes me so much for some reason that he doesn't want me to follow him, then it's kinda mutual and I have no problem with it. I still can read the blog, accessing it manually if I want, but it would remove the systematic and automated convenience that spammy marketers and such are using to their advantage.
    When someone decides to prevent a person from following their blog, there will be a good reason for it.

  13. BTW we can make decisions like this about comments, right? We can delete whichever comment we like, so we have complete control over determining who we allow to write responses to our blog articles. Thr questions is why we can do this, but not the same regarding followers.

  14. @1tess
    I too have missed you.

  15. @dowlphinblog
    Gravatar accounts and WordPress.com accounts are one in the same. http://blog.gravatar.com/2013/04/03/gravatar-and-wordpress-com-together-forever/

    If we could delete a follower then what would prevent that follower from re-following our blog? Nothing is the answer to that question. There is no means of blocking. Anyone can get another email address and/or another IP in a few minutes.

    However, Staff providing us WordPress.com bloggers with the ability to hide a follower from displaying in our My Community widget is something that can be done. And, that is what auxclass has requested here http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic/porno-followers-fix?replies=3

  16. @timethief
    What kind of reasoning is that? Anything can be done when there's a will to do so. And you're basically saying because spam filters can be circumvented, we shouldn't make them in the first place?
    Naysaying doesn't solve problems, but intelligent solutions do. Some examples of what could be done:
    1) Allow stealth blocking of followers. They will not know they have been blocked and won't receive any notifications anymore.
    2) If people try to circumvent that by creating new accounts just for spam purposes, that will be very apparent, too, just as spam comments are quite apparent. But the fact that conmen and such are using their blog's WordPress identity for the following shows that there seems to be a benefit to it. And I can even tell you what that is: They construct a fake persona and that's part of how the con works. If someone follows your blog with a weird generic account that points to an unrelated website because they have to do it that way, this again will introduce recognizable spammer characteristics and make it easier to recognize frauds.
    But schemes that violate the WordPress ToU should not be allowed to be executed under someone's WordPress account identity.

  17. But schemes that violate the WordPress ToU should not be allowed to be executed under someone's WordPress account identity.

    There is no stated term found in the Terms of Service contract that is breached by gravatar account holder when they choose to choose to follow any WordPress.com blog and/or click a like button on any WordPress.com blog.

    That said, we Volunteers (1 Tess, raincoaster, justjennifer, auixclass and me) have all ridden this merry-go-round in many other forum threads, and I'm no longer going to listen to or participate in the spinning.

    I believe auxclass has made the only viable suggestion in this thread http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic/porno-followers-fix?replies=3 and it's the one I'm subscribed to.

  18. @all,

    Someone removed the modlook tag, but I put it back. just now. I agree with timethief; I agree that auixclass has proposed a reasonable and workable method to handle this problem (which does concern quite a few users on this WordPress.com platform).

    On the other hand, though, there does not seem to be a genuine solution to this issue.

    I don't use facebook for much, and I've made my settings private without personal information: the neighborhood watch group uses facebook so that is one reason I have an account. But WordPress is different from Facebook, and one cannot do the same things here as they do there.

    If one does not want followers, then make your blog private. If you don't want anyone to view what you write about, then use paper and pen (or a typewriter). Then burn the papers. And don't give your friends in person private information.

    It's possible that being able to control who gets email notifications of post would help.

    1) Allow stealth blocking of followers. They will not know they have been blocked and won't receive any notifications anymore.

    But there are so many ways to circumvent who is notified that putting faith in any of them is actually ineffective.

    We can hope that staff will read this and find an option which might help to ameliorate this situation.

  19. @timethief: I'm trying to do my best. Thanks for the greeting. Things should not have been as difficult as they have been. I'm working on getting back, but think it will be slowly. ≥^!^≤

  20. Hi all!

    First, welcome back Tess! It's great to see you around again. :)

    Thanks everyone for voicing your opinions here, we're always working on ways to reduce spam and lessen the annoyances it causes you. Unfortunately it's complicated. As Rachel mentioned in auxclass's thread, the ideas you've proposed have been passed on to the team.

    You can always report Gravatar accounts through the "Report Abuse" link on their profile page, as justjennifer mentioned.

    You can also report WordPress.com sites:

    http://en.support.wordpress.com/report-blogs/

    Every report is read by a staff member and handled accordingly.

    And you can use the moderation and blacklist to filter comments that are likely to be spam:

    http://en.support.wordpress.com/settings/discussion-settings/#comment-moderation

    http://en.support.wordpress.com/settings/discussion-settings/#comment-blacklist

    Just to reiterate, we are thinking about better tools for you to use in these scenarios, but nothing is ready to be implemented immediately. Thanks so much for the great conversation thread!

  21. I like hiding followers. I've had some occasional porn avatars. Sure would be nice for blogger make a decision to allow or not allow certain followers to receive new blog post emails.

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