I can understand, sort of, why Blogger went to that “follower” model: these days, it’s mandatory to pay obeisance to the Gods of Social Media, and I have to figure that Google wanted to implement something without causing a massive upheaval. (Rival Tumblr is almost entirely follower-based, and WordPress.com can’t be far behind.)
Still, something about the little Followers widget in the Blogger sidebar has always bugged me, and apparently I’m not the only one:
I’ve always disliked that button, because it seriously changed the world of blogging when they added it. What used to be more of a community turned into kind of a popularity contest, and I dragged my feet even putting it up to begin with. But I wanted people to be able to follow if they wanted, so I relented. Now I’m thinking it’s time to get rid of the number.
Which she did. This does not mean I’m considering getting rid of SiteMeter, but there’s a difference, at least to me: the meter merely counts up visitors, and it would take a fair amount of analytical work to associate any entry in the database with a particular reader — and some readers may not want to be identified thusly. Blogger’s widget didn’t give you much choice: if you followed, your icon appeared in the list, and that was that. Worse, if the number fluctuated, you knew about it every time you looked at your front page. I once had the bad idea of installing a desktop widget that monitored SiteMeter in realtime, but killed it once I realized the dire effect it had on my sense of well-being. And the gizmo that counts the feed subscribers tells me only how many there are and which individual posts, if any, have separate subscriptions: no identities or IPs are disclosed, and I can’t necessarily cross-reference with SiteMeter, because SiteMeter can’t pick up feed readers who don’t actually stop in at the site.
And no, I’m not thinking about dropping the meter, even though it would save me a (fairly small) sum each year, simply because it’s essential to compiling the Monday-morning search-engine roundup, and I’d hate to give that up. Besides, there’s something vaguely reassuring about having had 2.18 million visitors, even if it did take a decade and a half.