Day 51: On Hold

Photo075I’ve found the rhythm and framework of a daily blog helpful in adjusting to Dylan’s absence and focusing my reflections. I’m half way through my 100 day project and so far have missed only one entry (I didn’t post anything on the day Dylan and I went on a dawn till midnight steam train trip). Today, however, I decided I’d better put it on hold.

Something happened yesterday evening as I was writing about the 50th day. When I heard my email pinging and saw the blog stats climb I assumed it was for a post about chronological age which attracts waves of interest periodically. When I checked, however, I was surprised to discover that people were looking at a recent post (on Day 44) about my visit to Sylvia Plath’s grave. That piece is probably my least typical post in that it takes only a tangential glance at autism; the diary format of my 100 day transition project reflected the fact that my preoccupation that day had been something other than autism.

I thought, at first, the interest in the post must be due to its focus not being autism. Later, however, when I saw that a few people with an autism connection had left friendly comments on my blog, I hoped the post might be reaching a more mixed audience. When I checked my stats this morning, however, I started to panic. Something didn’t feel right about the views, likes and comments; in particular, I was suspicious of some re-blogs.

One of my posts was hijacked once before by someone who embedded hyperlinks to their own sites in my blog. It took me a while to find and correct these and for the traffic through my site to calm down. I was upset at the time; I spent ages trying to find a way of removing followers, thinking that the only way I would be safe was to restrict my site to the small community of existing readers. I discovered, of course, that there isn’t a way of removing followers (for which I’m glad as I would otherwise have missed some rich subsequent encounters). Still, I looked with suspicion on my stats this morning.

With good reason, as it turns out, as at least one re-blog is to an escort site 😦  I have found a way of preventing my posts from being re-blogged to stop this happening in future and I have marked comments I cannot verify as authentic as ‘spam’. I hope that this will reduce some of the inauthentic activity on my site and I am sorry if, in the process, I have removed comments made by genuine readers. The experience has reminded me how much I value the sense of community on this blog. This space has been so stable and settled that I’ve even learned to recognise some names (something I am not very good at in real life).

Although it’s lovely to welcome people with a genuine interest, I hope new readers and old will appreciate my caution. I’d be really grateful if you could let me know if you find any dodgy links on this site or you spot any of my material on other sites. Hopefully things will settle down over the next 24 hours and I’ll feel able to return to my focus. For tonight however – other than to note that I’m looking forward to seeing Dylan for a short visit tomorrow evening – my musings are on hold.

Postscript:
The mystery was solved the following day.

12 thoughts on “Day 51: On Hold

  1. I was about to email you about this. A whole set of odd people had ‘liked’ a comment I made on your Sylvia Plath entry, so much so that I couldn’t help thinking something had to be wrong. I haven’t yet worked out what can be gained by ‘liking’ a comment. On my own blog, I often find comments include links to other websites, sometimes in the name of the poster. On one occasion, one of the links was to a site that appeared to be perfectly reputable, selling soap or something, bathroom stuff, I think. So I emailed the site owner and asked whether they were aware links to their site were being planted inappropriately in other blogs. It transpired they had paid somebody (you see the emails all the time) to increase traffic to their site. I don’t suppose it increased their sales! I suggested they should look carefully at who they were paying and for what service. But the fact that you have a lot of followers makes your blogs of interest to people who are simply interested in email traffic. Blog trafficking. Creepy people who feed on the authenticity of others. Eeewww.

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    • Nell I am SO grateful for (and partly reassured by) your comment – thank you for taking the time and I’m sorry about the ‘likes’ on your comment on that other post. I replied to that comment and I have also been getting silly numbers of likes for my reply. We have an intelligent, warm and interesting dialogue but it really doesn’t warrant all this positive affirmation 🙂 My friend Caroline tells me her relatively new blog (which I mentioned in a recent post, though not that one) has also had a torrent of likes overnight. I am so sorry that my site has involved you both in this. Like you, I haven’t been able to figure out what is to be gained by liking someone’s comment (or even post). So I’ve spammed or trashed all the new comments in the last couple of days and removed the facility to reblog – I can’t do anything about my post having been reblogged on an escort site (which I suspect is the source of the problem). I have never understood why anyone would reblog another blog so I’m perfectly happy to remove this facility. On the plus side, your possible explanation is quite reassuring (albeit sad). I have seen those emails about boosting traffic and perhaps it is as you suggest. That might also explain some of the comments I got asking me to help/mentor their blog.I suppose some of this is harmless but it feels invasive. WordPress need to get a handle on this really – there is no good reporting mechanism, or at least not one that is quick and easy to use. Anyway, Nell – thank you. Should I delete those comments do you think? The one of yours getting such attention and my reply?

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      • Yes, I think you should delete the comments. When the ‘like’ notification comes, it includes links to the blog site of the person who has ‘liked’ your comment. They are ‘liking’ simply to increase traffic to their sites. I’ve asked some advice about how you can prevent those links appearing.

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      • Thanks Nell – I’m sure you’re right – I suppose ‘liking’ is a passive way of establishing a presence whereas others are more brazen (I’ve just deleted some of those). I feel much less anxious now I know that the post was freshly pressed. I’m going to look back over comments now – some that I thought worrying probably aren’t any cause for concern at all, though I’m sure my instinct about others was probably right 😦

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  2. It’s such a shame that the so called modern world in which we live seems to contain so many people who are intent on at best mischievous behaviour, or at worst far worse and nastier activities.
    Social media (or anti-social media as I termed it in a post of mine once) is of course a marvellous development for us all to make communicating with people from around the world so much easier and enlightening. As I said, it’s a shame however that this positive facility is used by people and organisations to further their own, often unwanted agenda.
    I hope you continue your excellent series without any further problems.

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  3. As one of your new followers, I thought I would reassure you that I’m real!! I came across your SP post in Freshly Pressed. I wonder if strange things are happening just because there are some extreme fans of SP? Perhaps someone read your post because of Freshly Pressed and they took umbrage at what you did?? I’ve been puzzled too why my comment was liked – usually that would only happen if you struck a cord with the writer of the post. I haven’t clicked on any of the links in your posts, and am now a bit of wary of doing so! I’m following you because you write so well. I have an interest in autism through my work, but as a person I’m always interested in the complexities of being human.

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    • What? The post was freshly pressed??? I had no idea! Well that explains everything. I’ve been freshly pressed a couple of times before and knowing this makes perfect sense – I can see that would explain the traffic and the likes and follows. But I’m astonished that WordPress didn’t let me know – previously they told me in good time and warned me to expect unusual traffic for a while. I suppose I could have missed an email though I’m usually pretty good at managing my inbox. Oh well – no matter. Thank you VERY MUCH for telling me! I suppose I’d better unspam some of the comments on that post now – and I’m going to stop worrying about the links. I did check them last night and they all seemed fine so please don’t let that stop you from looking around. I feel bad now that this morning I reported one person who had liked lots of things on my site for ‘possible abuse’ 😦 I was just really puzzled as to what was happening and was trying to identify people who had behaved unusually. Hopefully WordPress will piece together, from my report, that I had no idea I’d been fresh pressed.

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    • Hello again – just to add that I had that thought too (about SP generating extreme feelings and views) and had wondered if my post was attracting attention because of that. I’m glad that you are real 🙂

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  4. Hello. I discovered you site via the freshly pressed link to it and I am so glad I did. I do, however, totally understand your caution. something similar happened to me and i got a few very strange comments off very strange people. it dies down pretty quick and hopefully once it has, a few bits of glitter will be left stuck to the big blob of glue that this sort of attention can spread everywhere. oh, and please don’t worry about responding to this! hopefully i’ll stick around and we can chat more another time.

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  5. Pingback: Day 52: Anticipation And Anxiety | Living with/out Autism

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