Attack of the Bots – Not!

My latest novel to appear on Scribd is the mystery,  Null_Pointer.  Recently it got selected as a featured document.  Overnight, I had over 500 views and almost as many users who were now following me.

At first glance I was thrilled.  Literally an overnight success.  But when I actually started looking at the users who were now following me, I saw that nearly all of them were false users.  Clearly the work of a script kiddie who had found a way to scam the system and add thousands of users to Scribd.

It’s a shame that the site lets users be created without having to fill out a bot-halting captcha.  Because it’s not exactly rocket science to build a script to automatically generate users and subscribe them other users as followers.  Ironically, I tried to send a message to one of these suspected bot users and was forced to get through a captcha.

So now I have over 700 followers on Scribd and I can no longer use that as a metric to judge how popular my novel is.  About the only statistic on Scribd that I can reliably use now is the number of downloads and the human readable comments, of course.

UPDATED:

I have just received an email from Kathleen Fitzgerald  Manager, Content & Marketing for Scribd, Inc., in which she assures me that Scribd is not under a user bot attack.

Every time a new Scribd user registers, they are presented with a short list of top notch “Suggested Subscriptions” — i.e. some of Scribd’s best, most active users,” Kathleen explained.

Since I was on the list of Suggested Subscriptions, my account was flooded with new users.  This makes perfect sense.  I was unaware they were doing this primarily because they didn’t do this back when I first joined Scribd.

Thanks for the email Kathleen, I’m glad things are under control and I apologize for suggesting otherwise.


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