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Saturday, October 21, 2017

Who is reading our blog posts?

by Shane Joseph (writer), Cobourg and Toronto, October 16, 2015

You'd be surprised: bots, slick salespeople,and attention seekers. Where are the real readers?

My work is syndicated on a few blog sites;, and on those that provide statistics of readership, it’s great to see the number of “reads” soar from time to time when an article catches the zeitgeist.

I tried to analyze these numbers and soon discovered that except in a few cases, where a geographic breakdown is provided as to where these reads are coming from, all you get is a flat number of reads per article. Since these sites are also heavily into banner advertizing to earn their income, one never knows whether the reader is reading your article or the banner ad, especially when there is a snazzy car, a scantily dressed woman or a movie trailer on those sidelines.

Then I began to notice another phenomenon (which I have written about in a previous article), and that is the presence of bots that read certain keywords of your article, associate them with an advertisement of one of their clients, and promptly post a comment (bearing very little relation to your topic) on your article with a link to a website promoting their client’s product. In recent times, essay writing services are very popular, services that write your exam essays and help you cheat the academic system of selection. Let’s not get into the morality of this form of advertizing, I covered it already in that previous article. Suffice to say that the next time I see a spike in the number of reads to my article, am I to infer that it is due to a genuine interest by readers, or that an army of bots, selling competing products, are waging a war for prominence over the battlefield of my article?

How does one rid oneself of this menace? Some use captchas, but simple captchas can be circumvented pretty easily, and the harder ones are so visually difficult for us humans to read that they defeat the purpose of engaging readers in a debate, for readers quit in frustration and never bother to post a comment because that captcha stopped them dead in their tracks. And even if we find a solution that is somewhere in the middle, what’s to prevent these bots being managed by a smart outsourced company in a low-income country that has a few lowly paid employees circumventing the captchas on posts worth preying on? Give bot management to the article posters themselves? This might work better, for a writer whose article comments are routed to her e-mail address, is alerted every time a comment is posted; she could quickly delete the bot-generated ones that are so blatantly obvious for their poor grammar and nonsensical context. This might be like killing mosquitoes, you never quite get them all, but over time they decline. And you get the satisfaction of having killed some of these pests—but you are still likely to be bitten anyway. Have a moderator filter all comments? An added expense, and who pays for the cost of the moderator?

This is a problem of our times, and the cost of online blog syndication. I noticed that even Flikr now inserts commercials in-between the feed of my photo album pictures. Alas, there is no escape from the almighty advertiser who pays for all our free activity online and extracts our secrets in return! If you want the fame and coverage, then pay for the crap that comes with it, is what I have concluded. I also trust that astute readers can differentiate bot-created comments from real ones and will ignore the former as background noise; and that bot activity will ultimately provoke content site owners to clean up their act or have their sites sink in the ranking of quality places to visit.

That still does not prevent me from dreaming of what I would do if I come face to face to face with a bot in a dark alley one day! Or do bots only lurk on the Internet?



About the Writer

Shane Joseph is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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4 comments on Who is reading our blog posts?

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By Barbara MacDonald on October 16, 2015 at 12:07 pm

Once again, perfectly stated...Now I shall blame them for turning my hair silver...life is full of many unwanted aggravations, now in the virtual world it is even worst.

Interesting, yes who actually is reading our posts...only a few I can count on, thank you my friend. :)

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By riginal on October 18, 2015 at 04:24 am

Well 'de-botted' Shane! 'I robot' bots reign supreme do they not? Look it's the same old adage when you write something that one thinks wasn't that special and you get a plethora of hits for some time geographical instantaneous burst? And don't people like CRX bring you back to earth in an ad tragic instant whereupon blatant flog has become a disease inherent. Therin lies the problem. Little or no moderation as you rightly state. Some sites indeed sweat on blatant strident nonensical volume bearing in mind, a writer may have sweated over a composition for not much gain. Nor comment, no matter if you incorporate the 'stir pot.' Bit like when you're talking to someone sheltering behind a glazed numbnut expression? Flogging a dead horse to no avail...unable to penerate the veil of tactless disinterest. The out- of- breath "why bother?" dragon rears its complacent head and yawns. Guess that's why there's such a plethora of idiotic 'vegemite' news stories so that provocationary replies thunder across the written landscape and are swallowed in the quicksand of "next please". Just as quickly. You would know better than i but when it's all sad and dumb some films flogged show a scant ad piece repetitive which in a lot of cases is the nucleous of the film itself. One thing i particularly abhore is a writer who rambles on and on about things that aren't nearly as important as blogs that give a detailed descript of how the solids are seperated from our poo and the end result 'drinkable water.' Whether one is writing sh...t or drinking it in seems to be merging ever closer but i guess you have to reconcile yourself to the fact that 'shit happens' with ever increasing social frequency? If you want to ruin a social get- together just mention you scribble. I believe self- promotion is a must if you want to be at ease with the world...a neccesary evil come hell or high writer? There is a formula for success...essays written by 'experts' to get you that important job whereupon you can then blend in with the replica "duh!" crowd and sip on the fruit juice of "bloody expensive essay foray...ummm...i'll drink to whatever!" And the drivel dribbles on. I reiterate...sum up your piece don't go on and on...be succinct! Death ad der quick strike, then sit back and wait for another legite blog to rear its head then strike again, with an inane intrusion while the "duh"iron is hot! Whatever, but don't dwell...replica 'dwells' can cause irritable bowel syndrome. /:>)

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By Shane Joseph on October 19, 2015 at 01:19 am

Thanks Barbara and riginal. And to the flogger between you two on this comment string who's had his word (in spades) and validated my article.

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By riginal on October 19, 2015 at 03:05 am

yeah Shane 'crass' takes on a hole new meaning but these crassholes seem to be part of the social word furniture. Still, crx has probably been crusading as head of the 'numbnut' society for so long it reinforces the quote "ignorance is bliss!" Or is that belligerence is...? Never mind,at least it confines him/her to their stale 'wind up' routine replica stopwatch...but in their mad scheme of ad floggerama it tends to have the opposite effect. People don't stop and watch, least of all purchase one so it begs the question...why not wear a "duh!" billboard and rush out into peak hour replica traffic?...same end result? Another lost body among the 'walking de ad?' And de ads have de same effect as prune juice so i guess there's a saving to be had in loo of? Funny how these wankers never retort, like silent ghosts of replica daze gone "bye!" Nor do the essay writing fraternity...weird that? :>)

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