The Gamification of Traffic

gamification of traffic

I have had a cursory interest in the gamification of moving online traffic ever since I started this blog. I developed this interest as soon as I realised people liked my posts without reading them. The reason they were doing this was that, if you have your default settings, you will receive an email inviting you to go and view their blog. It doesn’t take a genius to realise that you can quickly like a bunch of posts and drive some traffic towards your site.

To me, ‘gamification’ is where we —  the players — try and drive as much traffic (the scoring system of the game) to our sites as possible, by various means.

I have also mentioned previously that I have been learning computer programming as a side project. I imagine you have put two and two together and guessed what I am about to say next. Well, the actual answer is 3.99. I did make a Twitter bot. I was in need of a project to do and thought that this would be a big challenge. It turns out it took all of five minutes for me to be registered as a ‘developer’ and get access to Twitters API.

I followed a short tutorial, and now I have an automated script that follows everyone that follows me. This is a very tame thing to do when you have access to the API, I could have followed all my follower’s followers, and their followers, and anyone who fit the search criteria that was provided by my script. What I am trying to say is, I could have followed, retweeted, liked, and all the rest of it, at the pace of a machine.

Inevitably, I would have gained many followers as this is what happens everywhere on the internet. Liking, sharing and commenting are the three things anyone online marketing expert will tell you to do if they are telling the truth, if they are professional, they will use the words ‘interact or engage’.

I choose not to do this for a few reasons, firstly I don’t want to get banned, and secondly, I’m lazy and don’t want to have to sift through tons of useless tweets to see the things I am interested in.

I am not sure how I stumbled upon this site, but stumble I did. I found a site that industrialises what I have just been talking about, not only will the program, follow/unfollow to your heart’s desire, it will also suggest content for you to tweet about.

Here is a quote from their site.

Following relevant people on Twitter is a great way to gain new followers. Find people who are interested in similar topics, follow them and often they will follow you back. This is a great way to build up your Twitter account.’

Now I have seen this I cannot un-see it.

If you’re anything like me, cynical, you will have come across some profiles that follow thousands and have thousands of followers. Then you look at their tweets, and there is practically no engagement. To me, this a sign of some strange things going on. Why should I be surprised? Of course, this is what happens.

This is the game, some people choose not to play, some people are ignorant of it or ignore it, and some people play it better than others. This could be said about everything in life.

When I was a teenager, I used to play a game on MySpace, yes MySpace. The game was a simple game based around Prohibition-era gangsters. For a while I was playing perfectly innocently, then I joined a group of players. One of which was top of the leaderboard for our region. He showed us the ropes, and by ropes I mean bots. Cut to several months later, we were all at the top of the leaderboards. At the time using these bots was the most natural thing in the world, no one ever got banned, and we figured everyone was using them, after all, everyone we knew was using them, and many people were making a lot of money from them. What the moral of this brief aside is I am not sure, but I do know that fair playing fields do not exist.

                        It’s morally wrong to allow a sucker to keep his money W.C. Fields.

I am wondering if social media is a failed project. I can imagine a world where all of our interactions online are done with bots on our behalf. If you’re not going to improve the social standing of your social media identity, then you will be relegated to the lower rungs of society, where you will be interacting with everyone else who is ‘not an influencer’.

Soon your social standing will sink so low that you will only be able to talk to people in person! Which as we all know, does not scale. How could you geotarget your audience and benchmark their CTR (click through rate) if you have to interface with them organically? The only space for your clickbait titles will be on your t-shirt, that you didn’t even buy from an exclusive online store.

I think I may have gone off topic slightly.

Presumably, we want people to see our work, for whatever reason. Otherwise, we would keep a diary. So, do we sit and wait for people to come, which I assume is very sub-optimal. Or do we spend some time ‘marketing’ our content? Furthermore, If we choose to play the game, do we strive to play the best we can? Or do we make up the numbers?

follow me on twitter!

Published by Louis

Spend less than you earn, Invest the surplus, avoid debt. Eat food, not too much, mostly plants

38 thoughts on “The Gamification of Traffic

  1. “I can imagine a world where all of our interactions online are done with bots on our behalf. ”
    Great post, ljphd.
    This idea has been around for a long time. You might like this excerpt of a talk Karl Schroeder gave way back.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Liked the eager “follow me on twitter!” at the end of this diatribe about how following people on social media these days is a basically meaningless human interaction. Made me laugh so hard, I spat coffee onto my keyboard.

    Liked by 6 people

  3. Somehow, reading you here talking about bots and how they are interacting with social media makes it more real than reading any other kind of news talking about bots taking over them. As if the idea of those bots is something too insignificant if you don’t even know how they are created nor what’s the true reason for their existence (which is a lot like many other things that exists, it’s easy to use something that is causing ill to others if you don’t know what it’s even made of and how it hurts others in the first place). Thanks for sharing your experience creating one and observing others using theirs! Also : can’t follow you on Twitter, they thought I was a bot last time I tried to log in and promptly deleted my account so…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No Problem, I am glad you found it interesting enough to read until the end; this is quite an achievement these days. You’re not missing much by not being on twitter as far as I can tell.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. lol, I’m almost afraid to answer this post! So as a new internet marketer, and striving to make money (have not made any yet) – I get where you are coming from. Do you ignore the game, and just struggle, or play the game, to various degrees of success, based on how much you want it? (or have the ability to get it – I don’t code myself)

    I signed up for something that actually cost me $7. And am struggling with the best way to – Put it out there, if you will. I do not want to market to my friends and family. At least, not overtly.

    So I don’t think I have a point here. But I get it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Rob, I hope you do start making money out of it soon! You will always have respect from me if your intentions are clear, it’s when people are talking like politicians (avoiding using clear language) with respect to marketing that puts me off.

      Good luck with it!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I developed this interest as soon as I realized people ‘liked’ my posts, without reading them…you had me going there ‘near professor’. If I write something truly interesting, I’ll have to get you to hook me up. But I’ll double check your editing…lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is one of the more thoughtful things I read in awhile. Being a coder I am fascinated by much of the web 2.0-3.0 tech dynamics going on. I’d love to get into creating a bot for the sheer tech challenge it would present for me. These days learning a whole new platform seems very overwhelming… For now I think I’ll stick to PHP and blogging. Looking forward to your next post – Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the kind words. I personally, only know python to an intermediate level. I imagine its easier to learn an additional language once you have one under you belt. You would just have to learnt eh new syntax. ‘In theory’.


  7. The term ‘Web 2.0’ has been around a while now, all this social, user-driven, interactive stuff that was supposed to be so much better than what we had to start with. Maybe I’ve just become a reactionary grumpy old man, but I find myself more and more wanting to say the web was so much better ‘in the old days’. Simpler and more genuine. Are the bots and everything else taking us down a wrong turn?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I had to google what a ‘bot’ is but sounds cool. If you’re using stuff that’s not harming anyone and just helps you? Why not.
    I don’t actually have any social media accounts so don’t really know what it all means, but yeah 🙂
    Happy Weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. As a writer who read your ‘about me’ and then this, I have to say, you are not bad at the craft of writing. You do tend to drift, but. . . (what was I getting at here? hmmm?)
    I have one comment on this piece, gamification is a nice word. I don’t know if you picked it up from the culture or if it is your own. In either case the reader needs a nudge on its meaning early on. I mean, by the middle of the piece I understood pretty much what it was, but I think the whole would be much clearer if you took the time to define. It would help you as well as the reader. For one thing, I think you may be looking at it more specifically than I came to understand it?
    Overall, I would think you are gonna have no trouble writing that dissertation. Though practice makes perfect.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Hi! Just wanted to jump in on this and ask if you think your intended purpose in writing your blog (centred on writing it, rather than having it read) makes you react differently to the culture around following / social engagement, compared to blog writers with other purposes? Given that gamification is so attractive, are blogging sites which provide statistics to their users bound to cause the kinds of faux-social behaviours you talk about in the post? Could the “follow me back” culture be eliminated if we never knew if anyone was watching?


        1. I think it does. However, most of my opinions on social media and the ‘follow-culture’ come from the fact that I don’t want to be a product myself.

          I think people see celebrities and people with large followings making lots of money and want the same as they assume it’s easy to write fluffy posts about their lives rather than working the dead-end job they currently have. This is what I think drives a lot of this behaviour. I imagine if people thought no one was watching they wouldn’t bother posting online.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. As a person who still lives in the world of several yesterdays, I am appalled to think that the majority of the world today is following the desperate effort to “keep up” with new trends as fast if not with greater speed than they occur. I read of specifics that are upgraded quite often and can feel in my mind a thankfulness that there are those in the world who see this as a thank you to the well-being of civilization, not to a grandiose “new idea” that will keep us on the edge of humanity, My logic is that such new but useless inventions do harm rather that help the world become a better, safer place to live. I resigned from writing replies for Twitter when I came to recognize the “quite bottish” atmosphere that people like the head of Twitter seem to enjoy. Actually my association with them was both at entrance (when I was introduced to the money making potential of sending certain types of replies to pre-arranged receivers who would then duplicate the duplicated, to the finale benefit of having made some illegal money. I refused, not realizing the whole world was salivating for just such an intention. Perhaps things of this nature are the root cause of the direction in which we move.


  10. Honest speaking till date. I do not know which I prefer.
    – Writing as a hobby, or passion, or “diary entry”
    – For revenue?
    – People to put their heart to reading the post? And perhaps share their thoughts
    – People “liking” the post? (As a representation of I have read, or support, or just “liked” the post you made)

    Definitely the last option gives one more moral boost and gamification. However a lot of times, I take a step back and rethink. Which kinda made me in quasi a few instances.


  11. The reliance on bots bothers me for many reasons, one of which is the fact that they can act almost independently once they’re in place. The prohibition game put a thought in my head (as a fiction writer, I appreciate when this happens, don’t worry): Imagine if some kind of bot war for Likes got out of hand, and someone woke up one day to find themselves accused of being linked to some terrible people and the judge doesn’t know enough about social media (or, say, a toaster), to get that he’s been essentially framed by his marketing scheme. Maybe not horrific enough for Kafka, though still in the spirit of being ground in the gears of the machine, a machine of our own making. Maybe I would add some Edgar Allan Poe into the mix: The reflection in the mirror stares back at us, smiles, and says at our protests and says, “But I am you. Aren’t I doing a good job?”


  12. I found this post to be fascinating. I had also noticed that people had liked posts but didn’t seem to be reading them. I would check out their site but if it isn’t something I am interested I do not follow them. You have shed light on “non-reading” likes. I personally do not facebook or any other social media beyond my blog. I suppose that is an epic social fail on my part. I may not always like or comment; but, I do enjoy reading your blog. You have very interesting content. -Jill

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Great post this is such a modern conundrum and sounds like the brainstorming session of a black mirror episode. I made the decision some time ago to stop worrying about digital likes and focus on content. I definitely fall in that low rung of the social media society 😩.


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