Thursday, July 8, 2010

On the 100th follower contest

That little box in the sidebar entitled “giraffollowers” has been steadily growing for a while now. I am convinced that this only happened because I discovered that blogsurfing was as good a way of procrastinating as any, and whenever I found something I liked (which happens a lot, since I am fairly versatile in my likings. The last few weeks I have followed 36 million book- and writing blogs, 374,278 fun stuff blogs, and 5 interior design blogs), I clicked “follow”, because, I thought, I could always unfollow if I after some time found that the blog in question no longer fit my heart’s desire (or if I, unlikely as it sounds, at some point was to find out that there is such a thing as too many blogs in your Google Reader). At least that is what I thought. But I’ll get back to that in a bit.

The thing, though, is that when you follow someone’s blog, this someone often feels obliged to follow back. This is silly. Really, it is. I try to keep a firm rule to only ever follow blogs that either interest me, or which at some point can serve my interest. The first is easy, as mentioned I like a lot of things. The second, however, is the cynical one. It is part of my evil plan to build a network of people who either in their own capacity or through their contacts one day might become useful to me. I am not yet quite sure how they will be useful, but thinking ahead is rarely a part of evil plans, so I don’t worry about that. Usually, though, I find that people who fall into the "might one day become a useful contact" category already are pretty interesting. So basically I only every follow interesting blogs. Because of other people’s feelings of obligation to follow whomever follows them, however, my following of 36,374,283 blogs led to 50 people following me back. “WOW!” I thought, “these people must really love me!”

When I passed 50 giraffollowers I had just read about other bloggers holding contests in celebration of their gaining 50, 100, 500, or 2 million followers (I am not entirely sure how these contests work. Do they give a prize to the person who becomes their 500th follower? Or do they give a prize to a randomly selected person as soon as they reach 500 followers? And seeing as most of these things are intended to gain a bunch of new followers, wouldn’t it make more sense to host “I want to gain a bunch or more followers”-contests rather than “Yay, 500!”-contests?).

I thought of hosting such a contest myself (since I too liked the feeling of gaining new followers, even if I didn’t know how or why these contests worked), but then suddenly I had 51 followers. Oh, bugger. “Help me celebrate my 51st follower”-contest just doesn’t have the same ring to it. Having recently learned how to gain new followers, though, I figured it would only be a matter of time before I reached 100. “By then I surely will have figured out what these contests are all about!” I thought.

Not only have I not done that, I have once again managed to miss the milestone. Actually, I happen to know exactly who was my 100th follower (and I am very grateful for that, KyAnn Hotter than Cayenne Pepper!), but I hadn’t prepared anything. And now I have reached 109 followers (I am STILL very grateful – don’t get me wrong!), but I have STILL not prepared anything. (Besides, 109 also makes a poorer title than “100th follower contest”.) In addition, since I hadn’t prepared a thing, I don’t really have anything to give away in a contest. “If you become my 110th giraffolower I will share with you the key to successful procrastination!” People would unfollow me for that reason.

Except – I have discovered that unfollowing is nearly impossible! I must admit that of the 36 million books- and writing blogs I am following, only about 35,892,645 of them are any good. The rest post too frequently, too rarely, too much in a language I don’t understand or there is some other reason I would like to stop following them. Also, one of the “funny” blogs stopped being funny.

The problem is that while it is very easy to follow a blog, it is very hard to stop. I normally follow by use of the “Google Friend Connect”; because it is quick, it provides instant info to the blogger and everyone else visiting his/her blog that I am following (what a networking slut I am), and because it automatically synchronizes with my Google Reader (from which I access most of the blogs I read on a daily basis). Theoretically, this should also make it easy to unfollow, because you can “manage blogs” from your Blogger dashboard. Or at least that is what they want you to think.

Every time I try to use this function, however, I get error messages such as “HTTP 404”, “Sorry, no can’t do” or “The heck yo think you’re doin’? Yo think yo can just change yo mind about them blogs yo follow? Yo like some sort of convertialist? Yo like stupid, or what? Huh? Stoopid? Convertialitating my BEE-HIND, missy! No yo won’t!”

After having failed to unfollow as much as an origami blog (disclaimer: I don't think I have ever followed an origami blog. If I have, and you're the clever origamist behind said blog, please don't feel offended because I unfollowed you. I have certainly never tried to unfollow any origami blog, I just used it as an example. I swear. I clearly forgot about you, but I didn't unfollow you) I realized that Blogger was not going to help me with this. I turned to Google.

Google Reader is great, it really is. I only have two issues with it. One, it keeps giving me “samples” of the blogs I follow instead of showing me every single of the 36,374,283 with new content. I know this is a big number, but honestly, you’re Google. You’re as close as many of us get to believing there might be a god out there after all. So, my sincere apologies to anyone whose blogs I haven’t visited in a while, but this might be entirely a result of you falling out of my Google Reader’s random selection system.

The other thing I don’t like about the Google Reader is something that also makes it pretty great. It imports the blogs I follow with Blogger or Google Friend Connect, and organizes all of them in a long list (which occasionally is the subject to “sampling”). This way I don’t have to go to several places to find the blogs I follow – they are all right there in my Reader. Yay!

The problem with this, though, is again related to Blogger’s inability to let me unfollow anything I have already followed. It is relatively easy to unfollow someone in your Google Reader (I won’t tell you just how easy, though, or you might “accidentally” unfollow me…), but as long as you’re still following them in Blogger… Yeah, that’s right. The Reader automatically imports them right back in.

I think I was down to 34,578,218 blogs when I realized that all my hard work in sorting through bloggers that haven’t posted new content since February 1852 was doing me no good. I still got notifications from one of the blogs I most distinctively remembered having clicked “unfollow” on, both in my Google Reader and in Blogger (but there I only got another error messaged. This one said “I’ll be back” in a heavy Austrian accent).

I am sure many of you have been frantically reaching for your unfollow-buttons during this post. Relax, there is no use. I will continue to haunt you, because there is no such thing as “unfollow” once you’ve followed. MWUAHAHAHAHA!

I should get back to how I started this post, though, so as to pretend I had a nice plan for this seemingly random splatter of text all along, and that I didn’t get terribly sidetracked by my own frustration with technology.

I don’t think I will hold an “I just passed XYZ followers” contest anytime soon. And I am not just saying that because I doubt my blog will reach XYZ followers anytime soon, but also because I feel I should try to stay true to my philosophy with regards to my blogging. I don’t blog for my giraffollowers (though I am honored when they bother checking in). I blog because I like it. If others like it too, that is very cool. I am extremely pleased for every single one of those little icons over in the sidebar, representing a person (and in one instance a small business in Malaysia) who at least at some point probably felt that my blog was interesting or that I would be a useful member of the network that one day would come handy in their evil plan. Or they just felt obliged. (Or they really hoped I would one day hold a follower contest where I would give away a free tote bag made of the dead leaves of the plant I forgot to water because I was blogging.)

For the record: I don't mind if you are having follower contests. I might even consider participating. I probably won't actually get around to do it, though, since I as mentioned don't understand how those contests work...


welcome to my world of poetry said...

I'm sure you will find that elusive follower soon. I think you have a most interesting blog.


RosieC said...

I'm so glad I found your blog (well, technically, you found me...). I definitely enjoy your posts.

Do you REALLY follow 36,37,283 blogs? That's a bold feat if I've ever heard of one.

And I'm not sure why you're getting an error message in Blogger. I just unfollowed a (particularly annoying and egocentric) blog yesterday or two days ago. But I promise that, just because I know the secret of how to spit over my left shoulder while burning the branch of a willow tree in my right while doing the hokey pokey, I won't stop following you any time soon.

Jan Morrison said...

I haven't tried to unfollow anyone. I guess I just don't pay attention any more which in the real world would seem like I stopped following. Perhaps I don't need Google to confirm whether I'm a follower, a leader or a friend to anyone. When facebook told me I was NOW friends with my Dad I had to laugh. I find that following is second to posting their site on my site - that is what is important to me because then I can bop over easily as I just did. Love ya kid! And I'm quite sure I won't want to stop following you!

Aubrie said...

wow, that's a lot of blogs to follow. I used to comb through my blogs and unfollow the ones that didn't pertain to me, but now I just skim over those posts.

Congrats on your 100 followers!!

KarenG said...

You're right. It's really hard to unfollow. Not that I do it *gulp* but it would be nice to know how if and when the occasion ever arose when I needed to unfollow someone.

Deb and Barbara said...

I'll be part of your evil plan to take over the world if you'll be part of mine. Bwahahhahaha!

Very funny -- and informative about the blogosphere to boot.

Jennee said...

I follow a lot of blogs too, but there are only a handful that I follow every day and comment on.

When I think of unfollowing someone, I figure it'll bit me in the butt and then I'll lose some followers and I kinda sorta worked hard at getting the followers I have and I kinda sorta work hard at keeping them.

Summer said...

A couple months ago, I greatly culled my blog-following list. It takes a while to do it in the Dashboard manager, because it has to refresh after every single one... But now I have more time on my hands and I'm thinking I shouldn't have been so hasty! Oh well. :-)

I can't wrap my mind around Google Reader, though. I like the way the Blogger Dashboard organizes it.

As far as contests go, I've only had one, and it was to celebrate the completion of my first novel. I just finished my second novel and I'll have another, but I try to make them relevant (like this time I'm going to be giving away books on the craft). But honestly, I've never unfollowed someone because they didn't offer to give me stuff. I really don't enter the contests that I DO see...

Melody said...

Haha, this was funny!

Do you really follow millions of blogs?? I would die.

Jemi Fraser said...

You crack me up! :)

I haven't used Google Reader yet - I was hoping it would let me divide the blogs into different folders, but there doesn't seem to be that option. I'll have to look more closely.

Not Hannah said...

Ahahahaaa! Oh, you make me smile. (Also, I totally just followed you. Wheeee!)

LTM said...

I'm sorry you're stuck following my blog... I don't post nekkid men like the Tart, but I'll try to be funny. Or at least interesting. useful, maybe?... ;p

arlee bird said...

Congratulations on your blogging milestones. You have touched on topics that I have thought about and blogged about on occasion. I have never had a contest although I posed a challenge--Blogging From A to Z April Challenge--which was to celebrate my reaching 200 followers. The challenge garnered me over 100 additional followers and I found it to work better than any contest I've seen, but it also took an enormous amount of time and effort.

Currently I'm in the process of cleaning and organizing my sidebar because I normally read blogs from that and not the Google Reader, which I don't use. I have unfollowed a few blogs in the past, but not many. I do plan to unfollow some soon, that do not follow my blog, ever comment, or respond to my comments on their's. I feel like I am blogging for the sense of community and like you for the someday-I-might-need-your-help factor. I don't need blog list clutter of blogs that don't care a whit about me and don't really offer me anything in return. However, if a blog that doesn't interest me follows me, I will return the follow despite not reading them-- it's part of the someday factor I guess.

In any case, I enjoy your blog and appreciate when you leave comments on mine. I won't be unfollowing you anytime soon. Besides, in the future when I do unfollow someone I plan to let them know just so there aren't any misunderstandings and I think it's kind of curteous to do so.

Tossing It Out

Cruella Collett said...

Actually, I feel like I have won a follower contest, because you guys ROCK! :)

Yvonne - thank you! :)

Rosie - I am so glad I found you too! To be absolutely honest, I might not be following exactly 36,370,283 blogs. I think I may have exaggerated slightly (it's more like 34,851,236). And *supersnortofteaintomynose* - you spilled the secret of how to unfollow!!!

Jan - tee hee. I was researching the "friend request" process on Facebook a while back, and thus I "unfriended" myself (I have two profiles), and then sent a new request. People who are my friends on both profiles got a good laugh when their feed said I was now friends with myself...
And I agree - I guess the benefit with having "followers" to me is more a way of keeping track of what is new out there. I don't actually believe these people are my followers. I'm not a prophet... (and we're not playing "Following the leader" - a song now stuck in my head...)

Aubrie - tough isn't it? The danger is, of course, that I become too good at ignoring things.

Karen - exactly! Say the continued existence of the world depended on someone unfollowing my blog. If google won't let them, we will all perish!

Deb and Barbara - world domination next! (That is my evil plan - what is yours?)

Jennee - true - it is hard work. Both the networking part and the "try to write very good posts so that everyone will be stunned by my brilliance"-part. So I don't always excel on either, but hey - I'm having fun while doing it! :)

Summer - oh, so you're saying I should be cautious in my unfollowing quest? Hm... Point taken!
And a contest to celebrate your first novel is a WHOLE 'nother matter! That means you've got something spectacular to celebrate! Yay you!

Melody - I would probably die too (and worse, so would my Google Reader!). But I do follow a lot of them!

Jemi - mission accomplished! ;) I have heard rumours the Reader can organize in folders too. I might have to check it out... I am usually not viewing it through the Reader, though, I am viewing it through the Gooogle Reader gadget of my iGoogle home page (that sentence made me feel as geeky as a geeky... okai, I can't think of a clever analogy. That is how geeky it made me feel!)

Heather - likewise! Which reminds me that either you haven't been posting a lot lately, or yours is one of the blogs my Google Readers has been subjecting to sampling. Need to look into that!

LTM - nekkid or funny or useful or interesting will always keep me following! (Which for some reason reminds me of an ad I saw this morning, it only said "The most fun you can have with your pants on!", but it certainly got my attention *snicker*)

Lee - the A-Z was a very good challenge I think. Not just for the follower-gaining potential, but because it encouraged writing good blog posts in the smplest of ways. You might be aware that we at the Burrow used that challenge as an inspiration for our June drabble feature. I am still a little sorry I wasn't able to participate in April (it was a crazy month for me), but I'll look out for similar things in the future!

And I really like what you said about the blogging community. It really is a give-and-take kind of place (for better and for worse, I suppose). I knew I should have put community spirit up there with "interests" and "evil plans"...

*phew* This is what I get for being away all day yesterday - I think I spent a good hour straight (if not more) on replying to all of your lovely comments! But what a grateful task that was! I *must* say it again - you guys are the loveliest followers a girl could want! :D

Chris Lang said...

You would get more followers if you raise the GFC gadget higher on the page. I would move it to the top right altogether if I were you.

Especially since with GFC you can send your followers email from the gadget to alert them to new posts on your blog.

Hope that helps!

Cruella Collett said...

Chris - thank you for that great advice. At the moment I am both pretty happy with the location of my GFC gadget and the rate at which my followers are growing, but I'll keep it in mind for the future.

Ruth said...

Just wanted to say thanks for the add, especially after reading this post and knowing that it actually interersted you (bounces up and down)! Or that you feel I could be useful in your plot for world domination. I'm cool with it either way :D

Love your blog, and giraffes as well!

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