Seriously, WordPress – Some weird stuff is going on.

Edit: an employee of WordPress responded to my inquiry about this phenomenon, and I have added her comments at the end of this article.


I mentioned in a previous post that a botnet of over 90,000 computers is mounting an attack on WordPress servers, attempting to crack machines with the userid “admin” and weak passwords. I also mentioned that I’ve noticed a disproportionate number of follows recently. I decided to document the activity, which can be seen in the chart below.

Followers

(Click for a larger version)

You can see that in the last month, I’ve attracted 156 followers, with several now showing up every day. That’s roughly as many as during the previous 11 months.

While I’d love to think that my blog is ferociously interesting, examining the data shows  unequivocally that the vast majority of these accounts are effectively spam – commercial accounts attempting to boost their own ratings.

Example:

User “mariva55” at http://dinheirograna.wordpress.com/, a Brazilian site with 5 entries – all created on 19 April, the same day it “followed” my blog – is a shill site for comoganharXXreais.com.br (link obfuscated). This website is listed on Joe Wein’s spam domain base blacklist, and is a get-rich-quick internet marketing scheme.

While I have a few legitimate followers from the last month, based on some comments that have shown up in various entries, the vast majority of these are similar to the example above; some of the accounts were created today and have already been deleted. I mean, why else would “Guitarmonk – First Formal Chain of Guitar schools in Delhi” be interested in my blog?

Can anybody shed any light on what’s happening, and why I’m being flooded with these “unsolicited commercial followers?”

The Old Wolf is annoyed.


From a WordPress customer service agent:

Thanks for the feedback. This recent influx of spam followers is a known issue, and I believe our team at WordPress.com is looking into ways to squash the problem. Some of this increase could be due to changes in the Reader, such as the new “You May Like” feature that you’ll see on the right hand side when you’re logged in to your account and searching for/reading new blogs.

If you have a public blog, you can’t block someone from following you; however, you can adjust settings to decrease the amount of spam comments:

http://en.support.wordpress.com/settings/discussion-settings/

Also, just FYI, there’s a “Report content” tool accessible from your admin bar at the top — hover over the blog name near the top left, and you’ll see a link to report content that is spam. While it’s not quite the tool to deal with the issue you specified, I just wanted to point it out in the meantime. You can also just use this form, too:

http://en.wordpress.com/report-spam/

I am grateful that someone took the time and trouble to respond to my inquiry. Hopefully as time goes on, this problem may be mitigated somewhat.

9 responses to “Seriously, WordPress – Some weird stuff is going on.

    • Bruce, I suspect the flag is being thrown by the link I included, rather than the post itself. I’m going to obfuscate those links now, and that should solve the problem.

  1. Pingback: Hacking WordPress | A German Expat's Life in Texas

  2. Pingback: Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 180 | A Frank Angle

  3. Hi, I came over here by way o Frank’s blog. I wrote about this too and found many people were experiencing this issue. I didn’t know about the Joe Wein’s spam domain base blacklist. I’m interested in looking that up. Thanks!

  4. Pingback: Junk Followers: And the Beat Goes On | Playing in the World Game

  5. Pingback: Changed Settings | WordWorks

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s