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Simon Köhler
Simon Köhler

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Stop the Invasion of Fake Followers

Over the past few weeks I've been getting more and more followers on DEV.TO out of the blue. First I thought it was thanks to my last articles, but quickly I realized that almost all new followers are fakes.

Or how come that you get only 1-2 reactions on a post with 318 "followers"???

If you look at this screenshot of my follower dashboard, you can see what's going on.... "Why do they all have bw profile pictures and weird names," I thought.

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They steal our time, and mess up the reputation of DEV.TO, because of their greed for money.

It really annoys me, and wastes my time as a professional developer who wants to make a valuable contribution here. So here is a list of accounts that are clearly SPAM, and a list of accounts that appear to be real users. Some I leave out because I can't tell if they are real or fake.

Here are the fakes and spammers among my followers (Report them, too!):


.... I am stopping here with the list.. read below.

And here my (hopefully!) REAL Followers who deserve to be mentioned:

@jesscsommer (Software Engineer)
@pbrodz (Microsoft Engineer)
@amin1234 (says he wants to learn PHP, that's fine...)
.... I am stopping here with the list.. read below.

I got tired and dissapointed

So while scrolling through my follower list and checking each one, I realized with great disillusionment that almost all of my 318 followers are fakes, spammers or some companies that want nothing more than to generate backlinks or sales.

This is really very sobering. I didn't continue the list...

I bring decent traffic to DEV.TO...

.......and it could become much more, but... I don't know.

If the statistics are correct at all, I have generated over 20.000 views from Google on the platform over the time.

DEV.TO definitely has some good ranking and that's also because it's done pretty well. I apreciate the clean and easy structure of the website.

BUT the SPAM issue is a big issue. It makes me think about 2 important things:

  • should I keep trying to post quality content here?
  • should I keep considering to advertise here, or will my Ads only be seen my spammers???

Maybe the @devteam can help making these decisions?
What is your opinion? Write it in the comments, if you're real!

Top comments (12)

j3ffjessie profile image

We get new members regularly and they get a suggested to follow group of people. Those members join and usually don’t create a profile image. Some are probably fake, but some are probably real users joining the platform and getting started.

Content engagement is hit or miss here depending on length of content versus quality. I tend to read shorter content and not engage with longer content.

You ultimately have to make the choice of whether to post here or not, the moderation team can only get to spam as much as we can during our free time. It’s impossible for us to get it all.

typo3freelancer profile image
Simon Köhler

Thanks for your reply. I just saw a moderator "moderating" a spammer and giving friendly advice. Okay, the article was deleted, finally.... whatever. I think obvious spam shouldn't be commented, but just removed. I've checked some article lists with specific tags today and also found more than 50% spam articles.

You need more moderators then ;)

j3ffjessie profile image

As moderators we have templated comments that we can use to suggest changes to content or inform users of certain rules. These are usually used for cases where we think something is spam and want to afford the user the opportunity to fix their article or advise them of certain rules.

We as moderators do not have permissions to remove posts. We report them to the dev team to action those items and they do their own confirmation before just blindly taking our suggestion (which is greatly appreciated and ensures no bias against an author) however, that process can take some time as the dev team is busy working on other things for the platform.

As far as having more moderators, of course we would love more moderators. It’s volunteer work that we do on our free time and we have quite a few that moderate regularly.

In the end it just takes time for us to get to all of the posts and take actions.

Thread Thread
typo3freelancer profile image
Simon Köhler

I appreciate your engagement!

theaccordance profile image
Joe Mainwaring • Edited

If I may suggest: Ignore the follower count. I realize that's counter-intuitive when you're looking to build an audience on a platform, but it's what I did (and continue to do). I only know that I have a following of 3k because I looked at the metric to write this comment, but otherwise I focus exclusively on quality content (posts/comments) and participating in a meaningful way with the community. has an editorial team which will elevate the good content for additional exposure - that's where the overwhelming majority of my following has come from.

And yes - I suspect that some percentage of those followers are low-quality (spam/bots/abandoned accounts), but you're going to experience that on any platform which allows open sign-ups.

michaeltharrington profile image
Michael Tharrington

Hey Simon!

My name is Michael and I'm a Community Manager at DEV. Really appreciate your candid feedback!

I can definitely confirm that we're aware there are spammy accounts following folks on DEV. We know this is problematic and we're working on solutions. As @j3ffjessie pointed out, these spam accounts are most often following folks during onboarding; a lot of folks experienced a spike in follower count after we made an adjustment to our onboarding flow...

In general, we've prioritized removing spam accounts who are being particularly disruptive — the ones that are posting articles and comments. Most often spammers join DEV to drop backlinks or promotional content to build a business's SEO... when we detect folks sharing content like this, we either suspend them (which is private — we don't currently display suspensions publicly), flag their account (which deindexes their content and removes it from feeds), & occasionally unpublish their content... or we banish them (which completely removes their content). We try to be careful about who we suspend and banish because it's a disciplinary action and can disrupt their experience on DEV.

As for your question:

should I keep considering to advertise here, or will my Ads only be seen my spammers???

It's unlikely that spammers are browsing DEV. They're here to drop content that builds backlinks. It's more likely that they're creating a profile and leaving... or creating a profile and dropping spammy comments, in which case we'll catch them and take one of the actions above.

We can always get better at fighting spam, but don't think that we're being complacent. We're recruiting more moderators than we ever have before and these awesome folks are really helping us to defend DEV from spammers. We've also hired contract workers who are specifically working to remove spam from DEV. And luckily, we have many community members who report spam on the daily via our tools here. All this said, we can continue to improve. We'll keep thinking through plans to take on this specific type of follower spam you've pointed out... it's not as disruptive as content spammers, but it's clearly still disruptive and doesn't help our image.

I hope this context helps you understand our dedication to fighting spam on DEV. Your feedback is helpful and we agree that we still have work to do. We definitely welcome constructive criticism and any helpful feedback you might have. Thanks!

cicirello profile image
Vincent A. Cicirello • Edited

As @j3ffjessie explained in other comments, some users join the platform and choose a generic profile image. Not everyone wants their real picture out there. Some also don't want their real name or info about what they do or where they work public.

Additionally, some users just like to read posts without engaging with them. So followers who don't react or comment on your posts does not make them fake.

I just looked at those that you called out. Two were already removed as spammers by the DEV team (the ones that no longer show as links in your post). Of the others, I only found one with a spam post and one with a spam ad with link in profile. The others have no posts nor any comments. Unless they had spam that has since been removed, they are quite likely real but new users. The two spammers I just saw, I flagged, and I'm sure the DEV team will act upon that.

Quite frankly I find posting a list of users like this and declaring them fake to be irresponsible, at best, when there are appropriate ways of reporting spam etc.

typo3freelancer profile image
Simon Köhler

I am not going to waste my time with this, haha...

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typo3freelancer profile image
Simon Köhler

Sure, I respect your opinion.

alanmbarr profile image
Alan Barr

What do you mean Wireless Printer is not a real follower!

dumebii profile image
Dumebi Okolo


overflow profile image

i see why Elon Musk dislikes bots !!!