fake email subscribers

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  • #739700

    I agree. I also saw a spike in spam comments around the time all the new subscribers started popping up. Granted, I’m also getting real subscribers, but I would say 3 out of every 5 new subscribers, out of the 100 or so that I’ve got in the last couple of weeks, are fake. Here are some examples of the websites they are linking back to:

    http://lasemainefrancaiseashenzhen.wordpress.com/
    http://skypdotme.wordpress.com/
    http://jianingcoss.wordpress.com/
    http://marcelovallim.wordpress.com/

    Some other subscribers might have one post that has been copied from somewhere else and it’s obvious that it’s not an active blog.

    I wish WordPress could offer some help on this. There’s obviously some kind of flaw in the subscription system.

    #739714

    macmanx
    Staff

    The new subscriptions don’t appear to be malicious at all. Actually opening a WordPress.com account and subscribing to a blog requires a lot of work that spam bots can’t accomplish, and users with malicious intent probably wouldn’t be willing to do in order to receive nothing more than your posts via email.

    All subscriptions require email confirmation, so these are not fake accounts.

    There’s absolutely nothing bad that can come from this, unless you really don’t want subscribers. If that is the case, you can make your blog private via Settings -> Privacy in your Dashboard.

    #739715

    @ robthebruce76… the last blog on your list has deleted their blog, the other three seem to be new – and probably inexperienced – wordpress bloggers or they could even have created their blogs to read other people’s. Or, as you say, they could be something other than they seem. No way to tell really til they either post more to their blogs or comment in yours. (And if they comment in yours you can look up their IP numbers which might or might not be a help).

    Of course, one reason you may be getting a lot of subscribers is because you have an excellent blog. I’ve just had a look at your blog, and I think it’s excellent and you’re shortly going to have another subscriber: me. (And I’ve been blogging here for two years, by the way!)

    #739716

    @macmanx: Thanks for the response. I trust your feedback so I feel better that these subscriptions are legit. I’m closing in on 1,000 so I just wanted to make sure they weren’t getting inflated in some way. I’ve started to notice more active bloggers subscribing as well, but I just wasn’t used to all of the non-active WP bloggers subscribing.

    @absurdoldbird: Thanks for the input and the compliments! Glad to have a veteran blogger like yourself reading my blog. Thanks again!

    #739720

    pegoleg
    Member

    I and several of my fellow bloggers toiling in the “humor” mines noticed the same spike in counts. I think WordPress is encouraging (facilitating? creating?) these increased subscriptions as a way to make each of us feel like one of the popular kids.

    Kind of like schools that don’t want anybody’s self esteem to suffer so they give every participant in the 50-yard-dash a blue ribbon – even the fat kid who finishes 5 minutes after everyone else. Admirable goal, no doubt, but the effect is that everybody knows the blue ribbon means diddly-squat.

    As has already been stated, it doesn’t really hurt anybody, but it does make the stats rather meaningless.

    #739721

    macmanx
    Staff

    I assure you, we are definitely not artificially inflating your subscribers.

    Creating accounts to artificially inflate the subscriptions of over 25 million WordPress.com blogs would be a significant task, and we prefer to devote our resources elsewhere.

    #739722

    tcmacrae
    Member

    There’s absolutely nothing bad that can come from this…

    I still think it is somehow related to the 250% increase in spam comments I’ve been getting starting about a month ago. Your insistence that they are legit without specifically addressing the points we’ve raised that suggest otherwise does little to convince me.

    I decided to visit all of these “blogs” and leave a comment – if I could – thanking them for subscribing to my blog and asking if they would be so kind as to confirm it was legitimate. I did this also at all of the suspicious blogs and a few of the apparently legitimate ones also. None – absolutely none – of the suspicious blogs have responded in any manner. Most of the legitimate-appearing ones did, confirming their subscription was legitimate. I did, however, get one very puzzling response on one of the borderline-looking blogs (written in Arabic), who said they don’t remember ever visiting my blog. Even more suspicious, when I clicked on the author name it linked to a Wikipedia page that was deleted back in 2009. How does a registered WordPress user’s name come to be linked to anything other than their primary blog, much less a deleted Wikipedia page?

    http://nrfarooqi.wordpress.com/2010/09/05/teerebaran/

    #739723

    macmanx
    Staff

    Subscribing to a blog does not make it more likely that spam will make it through. There is no direct link between the subscription and comment systems.

    Subscription requests need to be confirmed via email, which means they are made by real people. There’s really nothing more to say on the issue.

    I think a potential increase in blog popularity is being seriously ignored in the list of suspects here. I’d celebrate if I had such a jump in subscribers.

    #739732

    pegoleg
    Member

    Increase in popularity works for me. Commencing with the celebration!

    #739736

    cinema29
    Member

    @macmanx
    There is sudden increase in site views on my blog… I have jumped from a miserable 20 (my best day, that too way back in Feb), to 47 today… Not that they are subscribing, following, or commenting either… its just the spike in site stats. I’m loving it so far, but anything you think I should be aware of??

    #739740

    macmanx
    Staff

    I don’t see anything out of the ordinary, just a nice jump in stats. Maybe someone emailed a post to their friends, or your Google rank jumped up a bit.

    #739741

    cinema29
    Member

    @macmanx

    I’ll take your word for it… Cheers!

    #739742

    macmanx
    Staff

    You’re welcome!

    #739743

    auxclass
    Member

    @cinema29 – how about you change your Tag Line from “Just another WordPress blog?” to something about movies – has a bit more class and can’t hurt.

    #739748

    There’s definitely something bad going on here. I just don’t buy it, these blogs aren’t real, and the spike in subscribers is not legit. Just because it takes real people to make the fake accounts vs. spam bots, doesn’t mean it’s just an innocent “healthy spike in followers.”

    My theory is that there is some sort of scam going on where people are spending their time making up fake accounts and “following” random blogs to inflate subscriber stats and render them worthless. They’re probably being paid to do it. Why? I don’t exactly know. But I bet stranger things have happened in this digital world. Maybe they’d like to drag down the integrity of the stats system on WordPress so people will take their blogs elsewhere?

    I’m super suspicious of this right now… just sayin.

    #739749

    @macmanx insists that isn’t the case. So where are all these new subscribers coming from? What has made our blogs so noticeable to other WordPress users in the last 2 weeks that wasn’t the case before? I’m averaging about 20 new subscribers a day, as opposed to a few a day before, and probably 90% of them have inactive blogs with the generic “hello world” post.

    #739752

    tcmacrae
    Member

    Subscription requests need to be confirmed via email, which means they are made by real people. There’s really nothing more to say on the issue.

    Well, I’ve asked a made a number of specific comments and questions that remain unaddressed, but to recap concisely:
    1) New “followers” have accumulated for the past few weeks at the rate of 6-10 per day (vs. one per week or so before);
    2) The majority of the new “followers” have new blogs with strange names and no content;
    3) My comments left at “empty” blogs thanking them for their subscription and asking for confirmation or if they really are interested in beetles are never answered or, if moderated, even released from moderation, while similar comments left at “real” blogs almost always elicit a quick reply;
    4) One “borderline” looking blog (Arabic language, some content but not any recent posts) responded saying that they did NOT ever visit or subscribe to my blog, and clicking on their name in their blog linked to a long-deleted Wikipedia page.

    With all due respect, I believe these observations and questions merit a response, yet to this point they have been repeatedly brushed aside with the above stock response. It’s starting to remind me of the conversation with the physicist who insists that, according to the law of physics, bumble bees cannot fly, and the fact that they do fly does nothing to sway the physicist’s position. (I’m an entomologist, so please excuse the ento-metaphor). Of course I want followers, but fake followers resulting from some kind of scheme are as empty as buying page hits, and right now this feels very, very fake.

    #739759

    In the last 2 weeks or so I’ve gone from 45 subscribers to nearly 280. It took almost two years to gather 45. Say what you will, WordPress, but I still find this highly suspicious. Only about a handful of my new “subscribers” seem to have legitimate blogs. Like a few others here, I’m not buyin’ it.

    #739760

    tcmacrae
    Member

    I know this is probably spitting in the wind, but I’ve had yet another “follower” respond to my query about whether they actually subscribed to my blog saying they have not visited my blog and haven’t, in fact, clicked on “Follow” for any blogs since moving their blog to WordPress late last year. My stats page clearly identifies them as having recently subscribed to my blog.

    Say what you want @macmanx (or won’t say, as you’ve so far declined to address any of the very specific counterpoints I have raised), but somebody has figured out a way to hack the subsriber system and is using it for some inappropriate purpose. Your contention that subscriptions are real because they must be confirmed by email is just not true.

    #739794

    There’s definitely something fishy happening. I would love for one of the engineers to say they are looking into it rather than “nothing to see here, move along…”

    Could it be a type of virus?

    :P

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