The Muther-Lovin’ “LIKE” Button

Just yesterday, I saw a Tweet from Alicia at A Kernel of Nonsense that spoke to me:

I wish you could block people on WordPress. I hate when those certain accounts find you and begin liking every post you’ve made for the last 84 years.

And I immediately ran through my head all the annoying bloggers who won’t go away (even after I’ve asked!) and are clearly “liking” my posts so they can engage in the most self-congratulatory task any blogger can: trying to get a like for a like.


You may be asking yourself, “If she’s so tired of certain bloggers, why not just block them?” You can’t block blogs on WordPress. Your only option is to make your site private to everyone except people you give permission to visit, meaning you will not get new visitors. You can also remove people from your follower list, but they can add themselves again (and often do almost instantaneously). Another option is to require comments to be approved so you can delete the weird ones, but most of these strangers aren’t commenting: they’re liking.

oprah like

These like-aholic bloggers will often find you based on your post tags. Thanks to Katie MacAlister‘s Dark Ones series, I have “sex” as a tag. Boy, does that bring out the interesting folks. For instance, one blog that keeps following me (despite me booting him off my followers list) is about this guy’s dating life in the city. Firstly, your city dates are just dates. Secondly, there are photos of women — what look like stock photos of models — but the fact that he thinks it’s acceptable to recount his experiences with women grosses me out. He used to like all of my (unread) posts, but now I think he’s just trying to annoy me.

Irish like

Another tag I’ve used is “photography.” Oh, I wish I never had. Every amateur photography with a WordPress site fills my (unread) posts with likes, making me look more popular than I could ever be. You’d think I had the stats of blogging queen Jenny Lawson. But really, I have a few trusty friends who read and comment on my posts, and I’m happy with that.

Since I’ve been writing about anxiety lately, I’ve used the tag “anxiety.” For instance, I felt the tag was appropriate to describe the book Big Mushy Happy Lump by Sarah C. Andersen, who is always anxious! Now, I’ve got dozens of sad, sad bloggers following Grab the Lapels and liking my (unread) posts. I struggle with these folks: are these bloggers actually anxious/depressed and want to find other anxious/depressed people, or is a “like for a like” meant to cheer them up? Still, I’m not playing that game.

Fry like

Then, there are the lurkers. You may be a lurker. They’re book bloggers who like my (unread??) posts, but never comment. Although I appreciate the boost, I’m not looking for likes. I want to talk about books WITH YOU. Why? Because you are AWESOME, or I wouldn’t follow you! When a blogger slowly stops engaging with my posts and only leaves a like, I have to assume (sitting here alone) that the post hasn’t really been read. Or that it was a terrible post and not worth talking about. But that’s okay! There are SO MANY other book blogs you could read that click with you. I don’t need a pat-on-the-head sort of “like.” I can do that myself (and rub my tummy at the same time).

Therefore, I am removing the like button from Grab the Lapels.

YOU: “But how will you know how many people liked your post?!?!?!?”

Believe it or not, it’s easy to tell.




  1. Hee hee. I am giggling because I am wondering how many people will try to click your “tag” that says “like button”. However, I have probably read your posts and only liked them at times; in the same way that sometimes I am chattier than others, sometimes I don’t feel like chatting so much but I still want to see what someone has been reading, so occasionally I will read through a post and simply hit the “like” button like waving not talking (or drowning).

    • You know, I thought about what my tag would do. I do know there are people who like to read a post and not say anything, but that’s okay, too. Frequently, when I don’t have something to say about a person’s post directly, I write what it made me think of, which leads into a different conversation that I enjoy.

      • Sometimes that can add an interesting dimension to a conversation, that’s true. It’s good to get people talking about and thinking about these mechanisms, reminding us all that not everyone sees things the same way. And here generation does matter, as you’ve mentioned; I’m certain that my teenage step-daughter would have no patience for the length/nature of this conversation…she would have just struck the ‘like’ tag (functional or not, never mind) and moved on.

  2. I think every blogger has to decide what to do about those ‘likes.’ You’re right that a lot of ‘likers’ are looking for a return. Others have other reasons. I know some readers have told me that they use the ‘like’ button to say, “I think you have an interesting post here, but I don’t have anything to add.’ The good thing about blogs is that you can remove that ‘like’ button if it’s not making your blog what you want it to be.

  3. I think it’s fair enough to remove the like button- personally I do think it’s useful for people who want to acknowledge/say they liked a post. but have nothing else to add 😉 But you do you! If it’s not working for you, it makes sense to remove it.

    • I’ve chatted with people about how they use the like button to support the blogger, even if they haven’t read the post. I’m trying to discourage that kind of thing because I feel like it’s more about self-esteem than engagement. However, I know that when I look at my stats and no one is around, a like might make my heart happier!

  4. I’m probably guilty of this – I tend to use the “like” button as a “Hey, I want to let you know I read this”. I promise I never like things I haven’t read but I get that a like without further interaction is annoying! And, yes, those repeat likers who never ever engage (and whose blogs seem to have nothing in common with your own) are aggravating. Anyway, I’m glad you’ve found a solution that works for you.

  5. I never thought about looking to see if you could remove the “like” button! Honesty, I usually ignore the “likes” because I might have, say, 30 people “like” a post and two people comment. Well, why would I go through all 30 of those people? That would be a lot of time just for me to be nosy or something.

    I only notice “likes” when suddenly someone likes five posts in the span of thirty seconds. Well, I certainly suspect that they didn’t read of those posts and I will probably laugh to myself, but I don’t know what they’re trying to achieve besides amusing me.

      • I can definitely see that. I guess my real question is why they think everyone is going to notice them and validate them? They are hardly your top priority when blogging, right? It would be one thing if they were really engaging with you and your content, but why they think obsessively liking posts will lead to good things is confusing to me!

        • I think it’s a generational thing. I’m so confused by posts on Facebook in which a person bemoans how ugly or not special they are, and in response everyone tells the person how cute and unique they are. Comedian Bo Burnham called the current generation the “performance generation” (of which he is a part) because they’ve had a social media presence before they were even born. It sounds…depressing. We used to need one best friend to validate us. Now we need 300 on Twitter.

  6. I think about doing this too, sometimes. But I never have. Partly because I know I use it on other blogs sometimes just to let them know I was there and read their post. Like a wave, as BIP said in her comment. But I also know that if there is no “like” button, I’m more likely to comment instead.
    Anyway, I’ll be curious to know how it works out for you!

  7. Is it bad that I don’t really even check who’s liking my posts? I have to confess I only really engage with people who comment and am probably blissfully unaware of the types of people looking for likes in exchange for likes.

    I am one of those who doesn’t always comment on every post I read, often because I can’t think of anything to say but I do want to show my appreciation so that’s why I hit like.

    If it bothers you though you’re probably right to remove the button. I’ll be interested in whether you find it makes a difference.

    • Maybe part of my beef is that I grew up before social media, so constantly seeking approval is unfamiliar to me. I try to hold people to the same standards that I hold myself to (though it remains to be seen whether that’s even fair of me).

  8. I like my likes, they make me feel noticed, though I get cranky as hell if no one comments! And you know I love you for the time you take to say something (don’t tell the pirate!). Sometimes I get likes within seconds of a post going up – what is that about? But I’ll generally go and look and see the liker’s blog, though I don’t follow many.

    • I find that as an adult it’s hard to make friends with whom I have something in common. In the States right now, everyone wants to bond over craft beef. I don’t drink any beer. Also, I’ve been book blogging long enough that the like button doesn’t make me feel much of anything except doubt. Did this person actually read? Are they simply fishing for likes? Who are all these randos?

  9. I love this! Amazingly bold decision. I’ve never had any persistently creepy liners, so I’ve been lucky that way.
    I do just like posts sometimes instead of commenting, because I don’t always have something meaningful to add. I don’t like leaving two word or one line comments that only say “great post” either. But I think we’ll be okay, because your posts always make me think and I almost always have something to say at the end of it 😊
    Also, I realize I haven’t replied to some of the comments you’ve left on my blog recently, and that’s mostly because I haven’t actually been there myself in a while. I’ll reply within the week, I promise 😊

    • I hope you keep up with your blog. I know you love to read and talk to other readers. Like I mentioned to someone else, even if I don’t have something meaningful to add about a person’s review, I’ll add something that their review made me think of, which starts a new conversation. Typically, these are really interesting because the book review has allowed us to branch out. For instance, Fiction Fan wrote that she’s going to read the Phillip Roth American Pastoral trilogy. I Googled wha the trilogy is about, and what I found made me think of a trilogy I read in grad school back in 2007 called USA by John Dos Passos. Now, Fiction Fan and I are talking about how Dos Passos may have influenced Roth’s work.

      • I do enjoy blogging, but doing it regularly is a bit stressful for me. I honestly don’t know how most people do it with a full time job in the side! So I will keep blogging, and try to do at least two posts a week 😊
        That is a very smart way to start a conversation! I think I shall start doing something like that too 😊 Thanks for the tip 😊

        • You’re so vile! 😀 Comment likes don’t bother me. Usually, people (including me) use them to acknowledge that we read a comment but don’t have anything else to add. Spammers don’t typically like comments, just posts (in my experience).

  10. You know they can still “like” you from the reader, don’t you? Bwahahaaa! There is no escape! It’s the speed readers I love most – the ones who “like” 20 posts in under a minute. If I could read that fast, my TBR would disappear within hours! More seriously, I rather enjoy the like button – sometimes I read a post but have nothing interesting to say about it, and can’t bring myself to do the “Great post!” type of comment, so I use the ‘like’ button to say “Hello – I passed by and enjoyed your post”. And I like getting “likes” from people I know for the same reason. I didn’t know you could remove blogs from your followers list – how do you do that?

    • If you’re on the computer, click “MY SITE” and then “PEOPLE” and you can remove folks. Most of them immediately re-add themselves, though.

      Now, I’m surprised you write that sometimes you don’t have much to say. You ALWAYS talk to me. I think it’s because we’re so awesome together *fist bump*

      • Goodness, I had no idea you could do that! Now I want to know if anyone’s removed me! My paranoia is setting in… 😉

        Haha! *fist bump* But that’s because you like to chat, like me. Some people don’t seem to want to much – they just silently read reviews and go away. I have lots of people who only ever leave a comment on a book they’ve read, for instance, but frequently ‘like’ other posts. And I frequently don’t leave comments on other people’s blogs too, though I do read them, or at least skim through them if it’s a book that really doesn’t interest me… but chatty people are the best! 😀

  11. Alilovesbooks expresses how I feel about this very well. I would never like an unread post but I do like posts often where I really have nothing to say but I want the poster to know I’ve read and appreciated their article. Does that really not make anyone feel that way? I just don’t know. I know that I get that from my blogging friends if, for example, I write about something they’re not particularly interested in (like a sport book or finding a new kind of cheese I can eat) but want to show support / solidarity.

    I am not make more likely to comment if I can’t find a like button; I will still leave off commenting. One blogger told me she only replies to comments that have a substance to them, not just a quick “I agree,” etc., which put me off the kind of placeholder comment you can put instead of a like.

    My big blogging peeve is people who don’t respond to comments (of course you’re not included in that). I appreciate that people can’t respond to all comments always and quickly, but asking for comments then not engaging seems a bit odd to me.

    • There are some bloggers who sit on comments for weeks on end. Unless they are an established friend of mine and I know something is going on in their life outside of blogging, I quit following that person. Mainly, I can’t remmeber the review or what I wrote in the comment section a few weeks later!

  12. I don’t really understand why you dislike ‘likes’ so much. I tend to ‘like’ a post or comment to show that I’ve read it and, well, liked it. I assume that others do the same. If they don’t then it doesn’t do me any harm whether they press the ‘like’ button or not. Can’t you just ignore them if you think they’re irrelevant?

    BTW It’s still possible to ‘like’ your post on the phone app. I resisted the urge to do so as that would have just been mean.

    • Your first statement makes me wonder if you read my post. As to your other question, why can’t I just ignore them. Here are a few reasons: 1) in colloquial terms, likes for a like is a big circle jerk. I’m not going to encourge that. 2) I am discouraging bloggers who are only stopping by to promote their own blogs to do so elsewhere. I’m not a free billboard. 3) New bloggers often stress over stats. If they see other bloggers have 27 likes per post and they only have 5, it looks like they are failing as a blogger. However, if I go through and see that out of 27 likes only 10 are people I actually know, I’m presenting a stronger front than I have.

      • Well, I’ve read your post a couple of times now and I’ve found it interesting and entertaining. I can certainly see that it really annoys you, it’s just that I don’t see why—probably because they don’t annoy me, I guess. I never feel obliged to ‘like’ someone in return or to follow someone who follows me, just as I don’t expect others to ‘like’ my blog in return. I just wouldn’t do it as that would be, as you say, ‘a big circle jerk’.

        I would normally assume that someone would have read a post before ‘liking’ it, so I agree it’s rather odd for them to go round just randomly ‘liking’ others’ posts without reading them but it seems relatively harmless, rather like the ‘friend-collectors’ on GoodReads. Still, if you feel that the ‘like’ option is of no use at least you can remove it.

  13. I confess, I tend to be one of the aforementioned “Lurkers”. 😉 I only “Like” a post I’ve read, though, so you can be assured none of your fake “Likes” were from me. But I totally get preferring comments; it’s so nice to chat with the people who are reading your blog. I’ve met a few really nice people that way. 🙂

    Note: I read a few of the comments and can confirm that the “Like” star button is still there on the “Reader” page of WordPress, where you can see the blogs you follow.

  14. hahaha the comment above made me laugh, especially your response to it. I’ve noticed a few blogs that don’t have the like button, so I do tend to comment more on those then just ‘like’ them. This will definitely be a good way of getting rid of those creepy stalkers! Also, you should NEVER tag your posts with the word sex, as a rule. This is the internet! You never know what you’re going to get on here LOL

  15. Engaging with new bloggers is the main reason I don’t want to go private. I have removed followers before because of the incessant likes. I used to be better at liking blog posts. I’d like and then comment. Then liking became a thing I did when I didn’t have time to comment, but I still read the post. Somewhere down the line, I stopped liking and now pretty much just comment. Also, big eww to that blogger who posts about the women he “dates.” From what you’ve recounted, I’m guessing there is a lot of exaggerating happening there. I don’t mind lurkers so much, but there are times when I want to shout at the people who follow me to comment on my blog already, so we can be friends!

  16. This is an interesting post. I didn’t even know you could remove your Like button. But it still shows up in Reader, I see. Anyway, I really don’t pay attention to the likes. I know that people who never read my blog are following me just to get me to follow them, but I don’t feel the need to follow back. I’m guilty of hitting Like when I feel like I don’t have anything to say about a post, but I still want the person to know I read it. If this happens when I read one of your posts in the future, should I just say that? 😁 Or talk about something else entirely?

  17. I’m so happy that you wrote this, because I was totally wondering where your like button went lol

    “Thanks to Katie MacAlister‘s Dark Ones series, I have “sex” as a tag. Boy, does that bring out the interesting folks.”

    You made me laugh out loud. Thank you!

    You really make a valid point. The like button definitely isn’t a measure of blog success when you really think about it. Sure, one of my posts may get 40 likes, but how many are actually reading the post? I can guarantee probably half, maybe less, read any amount of the post.

  18. OOh wow! Great post! I had no idea you could remove certain followers!
    I always wonder when I get like 5 or 6 “likes” in a row from the same person all in the span of a minute or so – there is no way they could be reading my posts! It’s kind of why I don’t generally comment or like multiple posts by the same blogger in the same day.
    Like for like is one of the reasons I stopped using Instagram. It got to be too much and was super frustrating.

      • Interesting that the Like button still appears there – I never use that or the reader but always go directly to the blog so I can see formatting, etc.
        That is good to hear that removing it helped with positivity!

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