It is not me that needs a reality check.
What has RSS feeds got to do with this subject? we are talking about blog followers on WP itself. They have blogs that they can earn revenue from. The more hits they get the more revenue. If they spam 1000 people it is reasonable to expect that most people will want to check out a follower and in doing so they generate hits on the spammers blog.
Re-blogging might only take the first chunk of a post but in reality most people put the most pertinent paragraph/photo at the top of their posts so that will get 'stolen' AND the re-bloggers entry appears higher up the reader than the creator of the original content thus has more chance of getting page hits and potential revenue (either directly from WP ads although unlikely or from 3rd party earnings from hits on their 'sales speel')
IP address is irrelevent here. It is a very simple bit of code required to add in an approval process to re-blogging and following. If somebody wants to follow a blog or re-blog a post they would have to request an approval just as their first comment requires moderation/approval. It could be made switchable in the dashboard settings so it doesn't have to be enabled for people that are happy with re-blogging or spammers. It would be based on WP user or email address NOT IP address. Sure the spammers or re-bloggers could take out lots of emails or WP userID's but if they couldn't get approval to re-blog or follow anything then life would be a little harder.
Yes, I agree that copyright thieves can cut and paste but why make it easy for them? WP should be trying its best to protect the original content of blogs within the bounds of its abilities. We all accept that WP can't stop criminals entirely but it is about making life harder for them.
Instead of spending time developing nonsensical trophy cases to show how many false hits or false followers a blog has, the developers could have written the code required to force approval of re-blog and follow requests.
I'm sure you and the rest of the team are very capable web developers so I fail to understand why you have such difficulty in understanding and rectifying these issues. I can only deduce that it is not from lack of ability but from lack of incentive.
What nobody has mentioned so far is that these spammers are generating hits on lots of blogs and those hits earn WP money. So it is almost in WP's interest to support their activity. The inconvenience caused to a percentage of WP's users seems less important.
At the end of the day, bloggers like myself can be ignored as I am one of millions. I suspect, only my opinion mind, that WP likes to see grossly exagerated stats so it can go to negotiations with advertising prospects or investors with a far more impressive looking portfolio than it actually is. Lets face it, telling somebody you have 1 million visitors is going to help broker a better deal than telling them you get 100 real visits and 999,900 spams ;-)