The surprisingly delightful musings of a humble Virginian whose satiric paeons to a plausible utopia implicitly shame the cynical zeitgeist of our times, causing it to cry, as 'twere, 'Damn, what was I thinking?' or words to that effect.

January 2018
Author's e-mail to the New York Times regarding "The Follower Factory" story posted January 27, 2018

The Pied Piper of Hamelin has 2,000 followers!

Unfortunately, every one of them is a bot-generated fake!

Three-point e-mail follows:

Two complaints and a news tip:

1) Why do you run such a frustrating interference pattern between site visitors and your reporters? After a 10 minute search, I still have not figured out how to share any thoughts with the reporters of your newspaper. I realize you don't let users share article-related opinions, but it does not follow that your reporters, too, should be off-limits to feedback. (Item three of this e-mail concerns the feedback/tip that I was hoping to share with the carefully hidden quartet of writers behind the "Follower Factory" article).

2) Easy does it, please, with the fancy and non-intuitive background graphics on your news articles (as in the "Follower Factory" story) which make the scrolling feature work unpredictably and often leave me wondering, "What the hell am I looking at?" It's like someone's actively paging through a copy of People magazine in the background while I'm trying to read the article. The incongruous picture of a giant female head behind the opening text made that text unreadable since it shared the same general color as the background image. Just the facts, please, ma'am, and please tell your programming nerds to stop showing off.

3) Since I couldn't find a way to contact the quartet of reporters behind the "Follower Factory" story, please share the following with them -- and your news tip department.

I was ripped off in 2014 by a company called Radio Airplay, purporting to find "fans" for struggling musicians like myself. What makes this worse is that the supposedly pro-musician website called CD Baby had listed Radio Airplay as a musician's resource, for which reason I discovered Radio Airplay in the first place. Worse still, when I told CD Baby of the scam (after realizing that my $700 had purchased non-existent "fans"), CD Baby told me basically to go get stuffed, since which time they have continued to lead lambs to the slaughter by prominently promoting Radio Airplay as a musician's resource. Yes, CD Baby, the company that will probably still be sponsoring the ASCAP I Create Music festival this coming April, despite my informing ASCAP of their knowing and ongoing promotion of Radio Airplay "services."

What's disturbing after reading the Times story is to find that many people who purchase "followers" are aware that these followers are fake and yet they purchase them anyway. This is disturbing because companies like Radio Airplay use this fact to justify their existence (when pushed to do so). They seem to be winking at the public and saying: "Come on, we all know these fans are bot-generated fakes, but who cares, right?"

Well, I never signed off on that understanding! I didn't pay $700 for fake fans, only for real ones, and I don't want the cynicism of other fan purchasers to be considered a justification (much less a legal excuse) for the fact that I was ripped off. Robbery should still be considered robbery, even when it happens online.

follower factory

Copyright 2017, Brian Quass (follow on Twitter)