Harvesting Followers

The numbers game continues. I sort of mentioned this whole social media nonsense and the obsession with numbers in my post “Pop Culture” before (and yes, I admit that the share buttons are back on my main website – simply because I’ve been asked where they are, and they occasionally do get used, actually;-).

It has always been possible to officially “buy” followers on Facebook through the “promote your page” feature, and for most other social media platforms through some shady services and schemes (for example, not a day passes where someone on Instagram posts a “@getfr33f0llowZ @getfr33f0llowZ @getfr33f0llowZ” spam comment, tags me in a picture that promotes “getting more followers”, and whatnot – I report all of them as spam and/or for violating Instagram’s TOS, by the way).

The latest and most idiotic scheme of all actually originates from the #f4f (follow for follow) culture on Twitter, where it was considered friendly and nice, or even part of the netiquette (back in the days, you know?) that you follow a person back who starts following you. Some of that seems to have survived until this very day, though for the most part, it’s only being abused by people who just want to increase their own following – whatever they think they’ll be able to get out of it… “more views?” – “oh, I’ll buy me some pizza from those views! And from even more views, I’m going to buy beer!” – hello?!

It’s a disease on Twitter, as it is on Instagram, and lately unfortunately, also on Flickr (which is still my favorite photo sharing platform). Facebook and Google+ at least limit the number of friends you can have/people you can follow (I think it’s 5000 connections on both platforms). And it would be about time for Flickr to do the same. I went through my Flickr notifications from the last two or three weeks and made a couple of screenshots. These are all from people who started following me:

harvesting-1 harvesting-3 harvesting-4 harvesting-5 harvesting-6 harvesting-7 harvesting-8 harvesting-9 harvesting-10 harvesting-11 harvesting-12

I’m actually a nice person (“…and if I had any friends, they would confirm it!”;-) so I do look at the profile and photos of people who start following me, usually (when there’s a surge of new followers, like when one of my photos goes into Explore, I might not be able to do that). And then I see this crap above. While some of these folks only seem to get started, all of these are following thousands of others.

Let’s be honest, dear harvesters: you’re following thousands of people on Flickr. What are the chances that you are actually and genuinely interested in any one of them, and the photos that they’re posting? What are the chances that you’ll interact, add a photo to your favorites, or leave a comment, and really mean it?

The answer is: ZERO. Because your photo feed is most likely a total random mess that updates faster than you can blink. Following so many people can only mean one thing: You’re harvesting people by starting to follow them, hoping they’ll follow you back – you have no actual interest in the people you’re following. And you have no actual taste or photographic preference.*

Too bad that people out there still seem to fall for this scheme. I’m not one of them, and from now on, I’m going to block these users. Please consider doing the same, or at the very least, ignore them. Just don’t follow these people back. Why should you? They’re not interesting in you anyway. They’re reducing you to a number that they want to harvest. That is despicable.


*) yes, this is a deliberately placed ad hominem attack. 😉

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