Some Correction and Insight into the Facebook Page Situation

Long story short: the news is not as bad as I thought yesterday.

I am getting over 100 impressions per post I make on the Camels With Hammers Facebook page again the last two months—ever since I stopped using an app to automatically post links. Even the last two days, I got over 100 impressions per post. It’s still less than quarter of my total subscribers but not as bad as when I was getting as low as 2 or 4 impressions for some posts in the fall or only 30-40 throughout the winter.

Apparently it was the apps or automatic posting which was being penalized and not just an artificial suppression of feed representation meant to force page owners to buy access to their subscribers’ feeds (as I had angrily inferred yesterday when I discovered they were offering to give me access to 300 of my subscribers’ feeds if only I paid $5 each time I wanted that).

Facebook is still not a reliable way to be assured you’ll get every update from blogs you follow. In the case of Camels With Hammers you will miss (and have missed) links which I don’t remember to post, even if you are getting the site regularly in your feed. Also, as I already noted, less than a quarter of subscribers are getting impressions of each post.

And page runners should be aware their posts automatically added by apps probably don’t show up in many feeds at all (less than 10%, assuming my experience on my page is typical), unless they get a lot of likes and comments. Freethought Blogs’ own Facebook page, which has nearly 5,000 subscribers and aggregates links to everything on the whole site is automatically updated and I have heard from a friend it rarely shows up in her feed.

So, if you want to make sure you are reliably updated on the goings-on at your favorite blogs, use a feed reader, have a daily e-mail sent to your inbox, or (especially) visit the websites directly. Only use Facebook as a supplemental occasional alert and you should be fine.

Subscription information for Camels With Hammers is here. Subscription information for Freethought Blogs is here.

Your Thoughts?

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About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • raywhiting

    It occurs to me that your number of impressions may also reflect how many people who have liked your page are actually logging in at appropriate times AND/OR scrolling down to where your post might appear in chron order with anything else appearing on their feed. I have almost 600 “likes” on my page, but not all of those people see my posts — only the ones who are either logged in when I post and therefore see the automatic updates in their feed, or they click through to the Knitivity wall and see what I’ve posted there.

    • Daniel Fincke

      Yes, this is certainly part of it. But it does not explain the radical fluctuations where the numbers dropped from 120-140 last spring to then 60-80 in the summer then to 30-40 by August, then 2-20 in October, then up to 30-40 in the winter. Then over 100 when manually linking. All really daily numbers for their respective time periods. There is definitely manipulation by the algorithms happening. It’s not indiscriminate. Some subscribers are being screened from getting them by Facebook.

  • New England Bob

    And then there are those of us who never found your blog through FaceBook at all but subscribe via a Reader and see every post.

  • George W.

    If people use their Facebook to get these kinds of updates, they can use their feed to make Facebook most beneficial to them. My feed naturally shows every post (nearly) from one of my friends (I met through you, Dan!), because I share tons of her links. I get your feed all the time, because I comment on your posts quite a bit. Facebook customizes your feed to keep you constantly interacting with it.

    If you want to speed up the process, you can click on the little arrow to the right side of a post, and change your preferences to “subscribe to all” instead of “most”. I have two or three friends who don’t post often who I do this for so that I always see their updates the few times they make them.

    I also “unsubscribe” from several friends who post about their cats, or their kids, or other stuff that really doesn’t interest me. This clears up space on my feed for quality material.

    I use FB to drive me to blog posts, to share atheist links in my network of friends, and to give me inspiration for my own posts and projects. I find FB did a good job of customizing my feed based on my habits, but I have tweaked it to be better for what I use it for.

  • John Morales


    It doesn’t need saying, but this correction and the edits to the original post are the sort of ethical behaviour and transparency I’ve come to expect from certain bloggers.

    (I criticise much more than I applaud)

    • Daniel Fincke

      Thanks John. This makes the embarrassment of having to make a correction easier to swallow!

  • Setár, self-appointed Elf-Sheriff of the Pharyngula Star Chamber

    Freethought Blogs’ own Facebook page, which has nearly 5,000 subscribers and aggregates links to everything on the whole site is automatically updated and I have heard from a friend it rarely shows up in her feed.

    This is not just us — this happened to me with the ScienceBlogs feed as well, I had simply thought it was Sb being selective.

  • BubbaRich

    I’m sorry, I had forgotten about this blog since you unfriended me when I disagreed with you a few months ago, and I stopped getting the FB updates. I used to love your blog, and found most of the posts interesting, since I do a lot of reading about the philosophy of mind. But since the post that reminded me was you suggesting Rebecca for JREF president, I suspect I’m still not needed around here.

    • John Morales

      I’m not needed around here, either.

      (But then, I neither think nor pretend that my reason for commenting somewhere is that I am needed)

    • Daniel Fincke

      I only unfriend people for trolling me, not simply disagreeing. If you don’t troll, you’re welcome to comment. If you benefit from what I write, who cares if you don’t like me personally? But if it’s all too much for you that I support Rebecca Watson (and unfriended you) then I will just have to live with the rejection.

  • BubbaRich

    You seem to define “trolling” as “disagreeing with you twice.” I don’t troll, and only post things that I honestly believe or am considering. I’d like to go back and review it for you, but not only did you unfriend me for disagreeing with you, you blocked me from seeing your page. You seem to have a SERIOUS problem with somebody disagreeing with you.

    But yes, it’s fine with me if you support Rebecca. I don’t, although I support some of the ideas she stands for very strongly. I frequently disagree with her actions, though, as she is a bully in her sphere. But I evaluate every action she makes and every position she takes on its merits, despite that.

    Now, why don’t you go back to your FB account, review why you blocked me, and then explain how that fits in with “freethought” or even basic decency and politeness.

    • Daniel Fincke

      Dude, my Facebook account is for friendship. I have no “freethought”, decency, or politeness obligations to be friends with people who irritate me. I only went so far as to outright block you only because the way Facebook is set up, if I am to make my posts public, as I like to, the only way to stop any particular person from posting there is to go beyond unfriending to blocking.

  • BubbaRich

    Thanks for clarifying. I tend to enjoy reading you, and think you consider interesting questions, but I also will tend to disagree with you directly. To me, that’s the best way to examine a question, and I only do that when I feel like I can honestly take a position opposite yours. I understand that some people can’t deal with that, I’m just a little disappointed that so many of them are prominent in the “freethinker” movement.

    It’s possible I’ll remember to check your blog through my Google Reader account. I assume it’s acceptable to disagree with you here?

    • Daniel Fincke

      Of course it’s acceptable to disagree with me. Thanks for still being willing to read me.