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.
(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.
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:
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.