I’ve heard of ghost writers; is there such a thing as a ghost reader*?
Last May I wrote a post titled “What Morley Safer and I Had in Common“. The post was written as a tribute to Safer shortly after his death, and focused on one of his more well-known stories that dealt with modern art.
In the story, Safer questions much of what is considered modern art. Some examples are a vacuum cleaner going for $100,000 and a pair of urinals selling for $140,000. There’s even a clip of an auction where the auctioneer is not sure if a picture should be vertical or horizontal. I’m not sure it really matters, it looks like is’s just a gray canvas with nothing on it. A painting with the word RAT repeated three times went for $30,000.
Anyway, that post was written last May.
Two months later, someone posted the following comment to the post:
Would like to know if you’re open for lunch on Tuesdays, if so, do I need a reservation, and what time do you open for lunch. I have a group of four interested in coming to your place on June 19aA.hnks,Tnn Mahan
I had no idea what they are referring to, but it certainly wasn’t anything to do with the Morley Safer post (or any post I’d ever written).
Then just last week, out of the blue, I received another comment on this post, which at this point was over nine months old:
I think it sounds lovely and wouldn’t mind the 1960s feel. Our nearby Mackinac Island is car-free, and it’s one of the (many) reasons people love it. I really love your travelogues, Jeanine. You get right to the heart of things and tell folks what’s great or not great about a place.
So it seems people have me confused with Jeanine, a travelogue writer who maybe owns a restaurant.
I’ll admit that I get a sense of excitement when I see the view counts on my blog increasing throughout the day, and fantasizing about the positive impact my beautiful words and deep insights are having on people.
But then I see comments like this, and I have to wonder, are people just surfing the web looking for a place to get something off their chest, and my blog was the best place they could find to do so?
It then made me wonder how legitimate my view counts are, so I did a bit of investigation. I typed the phrase “I really love your travelogues, Jeanine” into Google, and there were 21 results that matched the entire comment I included above. Some of those posts go back as early as 2010, and as recent as mine from last week.
It seems as if the 2010 comment was a legitimate one, but then when I looked at the remaining search results, the entire comment can be found on sites that had nothing to do with travel, like my blog post about Morley Safer.
So does the original commenter from 2010 think that his or her comment was so brilliant and universally relevant to anything written on the web, that he or she just posts it on random sites, without even bothering to read the post.
For the first comment above, the one about a lunch reservation, I also did a Google search and found that exact comment posted on several other sites, all of them foreign (except mine).
So it appears that neither comment is legitimate to my Morley Safer post (kind of obvious), and probably means that at least a couple of my page views for the Morley Safer post don’t count.
I want to be clear that I really don’t mind the nonsensical comments (after all, that would be in line with my nonsensical blog posts). But if you’re going to take the time to post such comments, please do me a favor and at least scan what I’ve got to say.
It will make me feel better if I think people are actually reading what I have to write, and I just don’t have a bunch of “ghost readers” coming to my site.
*Ghost reader – a phrase I just coined to represent someone who comments on a blog post without ever having read the post itself.