Do you read every article you ‘Like’?
I ask because I have noticed a number of posts on WordPress suggesting that there are some people (and I hope they are in the minority) who scroll down the WordPress Reader simply clicking the ‘Like’ button, but who never actually visit the blog they are ‘liking.’ So I have started to take note of this phenomenon. Is it really happening? Are there phantom fans out there? Do people really use the ‘Like’ button to drive traffic to their own blog? After all, WordPress’’ advises us that the best way to get traffic is to get to know other bloggers.
Moving to a self-hosted blog, recently, has given me an opportunity to test this theory out, and the results seem to suggest that there is some truth to the rumour.
For example, I have been writing a series of articles looking at grandparents and their role in families. I have only posted the complete articles on my self-hosted blog, with links on my WordPress site. Recently, I posted a new article of almost 2,000 words using my blogging software. This has an option to post the article, and then automatically open the post in my browser so that I can see what it looks like. So, having posted this article, I duly waited for the page to load. Now, my internet connection is not over fibre optic, but it is not slow. As the page loaded, my first ‘Like’ popped up. Hey! I know I`m not a fast reader, but it would take a super-speed reader to get through 2,000 words that quickly.
Therefore, I had to conclude that this blogger had seen my post appear on the WordPress Reader screen and simply clicked ‘Like.’ This was rather disappointing, especially since it was a blogger that I not only follow, but whose work I highly admire.
It struck me that arbitrarily clicking ‘Like’ on lots of posts just to attract traffic to your blog is a bit like a politician voting for everyone else so that he will get elected. Is there not some sort of moral issue here?
Why Is This an Issue?
Why do I worry about this? Like many writers, I enjoy reading widely, and reading through other people’s blogs is an excellent source of inspiration and information. But, trying to keep up with all of the blogs that I follow is not easy. I’m sorry, but I don’t always get to read everything on the blogs I follow.
Yet there is a serious side to ‘Liking’ a post. Consider this: Let’s say that someone posts a rather controversial article. I will not specify any subject because that could sway your judgement in this matter. However, this article flies in the face of everything that you ever stood for. It goes completely contrary to your deeply-held beliefs. In fact, you would be outraged by the very suggestion.
Now, you notice this article in the WordPress Reader. It has a beautiful photograph attached and you really love this photo. So you click ‘Like’ to approve of the photo, but you don’t read the article.
What have you done? You have now agreed with the sentiments expressed in the article. You may even have condoned something illegal. And your next prospective employer could be a fellow blogger who noted that you condoned this activity and he may decide that on the strength of your apparent opinions, you do not qualify for this job. In fact, despite being the best qualified, you do not belong in their company. Believe me, this has happened. A young girl applied for a job and the employer checked out her social network page. She didn’t even get an interview.
What Are You Agreeing With?
My point is that clicking ‘Like’ just to get reciprocal traffic could lead us into trouble. As noted, above, we could be ostensibly agreeing with something that goes directly against our own moral compass. We could even be condoning an illegal act.
That is why I never ‘Like’ a post that I have not read. I have no intention of giving the impression that I approve of something just to get reciprocal traffic.
Also, I will not ‘Like’ a post that contains material which goes against my principles. So, for example, I may highly respect your blog; but if you post an entry about something that I disapprove of, I will not ‘Like’ it. I may comment on it, expressing my disapproval in a tactful way, but I will not ‘Like’ it.
The Value of Commenting
This leads to the question of comments. It is not always possible, or even desirable, to comment on everything a fellow blogger writes. After all, there are only so many ways to say, “Good article.” However, commenting on articles at least tells the author that you have read his or her work, especially if you refer back to something in the article. I’m not always good at this, but Beth at I Didn’t Have My Glasses On is a fine example of it. She regularly comments and her comments always refer to some point in the article. Plus, her comments are always constructive.
Yet, again, because it is so easy to comment from the WordPress Reader, we still need to be careful that our comments are appropriate, rather that just touting for business, as it were.
So, before hitting ‘Like,’ from now on, why not consider your motives. Do you really like this article? Do you honestly agree with what is written in it? Are you only trying to ‘encourage’ a fellow blogger? Or are you just being mercenary in looking for traffic for your own blog?