Blogger Following and Friend Connect

Last night we announced a big upgrade to Blogger Following, something we’ve been working on for months. I’m excited about this for a lot of reasons – but before I get to them, I want to address a couple concerns people have expressed on Twitter and on their blogs.

Concern #1: I lost followers! I’m particularly sensitive to this concern – having run the publisher team at FeedBurner for years, I learned that publishers really care about their subscriber numbers, and any time a user’s RSS subscriber number dropped without explanation it was cause for alarm. Numbers matter – a lot. For many, an important goal of their blog is to build a community around their content, and the number (of subscribers, followers, visitors, whatever) signifies for the publisher the scope of that community. Whether the number is 10 or 5,000, it’s a number that becomes an easily digestible benchmark by which the success or failure of the blog is judged.

So when a number drops from 15 to 10 (or 100 to 80, or 2500 to 2400), that’s bad, right? Not really, no. Those followers are all still there – but a few of them are now following privately. Here’s why:

Let’s say Bill has a Blogger blog about his struggles with depression, and has “followed” three blogs covering the same topic. Bill’s persona on Blogger is “public” insofar as it’s discoverable and visible from those sites. But Bill isn’t using his name – his profile simply identifies him as “DepressedInChicago”. Separately, Bill has a Google account, through which he’s joined his school alumni blog, a sports blog, and a tech networking site in Chicago. His Google account is his Gmail address, and he’s well known within the tech and alumni circles in Chicago.

By upgrading Blogger Following to leverage Friend Connect’s community features, we had to make a choice: do we show off which sites Bill has joined (through Follow or Friend Connect)? If so, Bill’s identity becomes obvious to the members of the depression blogs. And his struggles with depression become clear to his professional and personal colleagues.

There are any number of examples where this blending of previously anonymous or pseudonymous activities through one persona with the more public activities of another persona could cause individuals great harm. Though the whole goal with Friend Connect is to make sites more social, we felt strongly that we could not risk any situation in which an individual’s privacy was jeopardized.

As a result, for those users who both followed a site with Blogger Following and joined a site with Friend Connect, we’ve defaulted those individuals to be privately following the sites they care about. Every one of these users is getting an e-mail from us explaining the situation, and will see an alert in their Blogger dashboard linking to the FAQ so that they can decide which (if any) sites they wish to follow publicly and which they wish to follow privately.

While we recognize that this affects blogger owners (who saw their community’s follower count drop), but hope that the reasoning behind the decision – not to mention the privacy concerns of the affected users – justified the path we chose.

Question for those affected: we might be able to show the total number of followers (currently we’re only showing the total public followers). Would that address your concern? Feel free to sound off in the comments. (Caveat: this would take a bit of work on our end, so it may be a bit before it showed up… but it is something we’re looking at in response to the concerns voiced last night and this morning.)

Concern #2: The new follow widget is ugly! Ugly is such a strong word. But we’re hearing you loud and clear: you want more control over the look and feel of the widget itself, and better integration with the blog’s overall style. We’re working on this as we speak, and will have more to share in the near future. Here’s what you can do now:

  • Edit the colors of the Follower widget. Go to “Layout” then find your Follower widget and click “Edit”. You can modify the colors there, as soon as you click save the changes will be reflected on your blog.
  • Remove the widget altogether. We don’t want you to, but you of course can remove the followers widget if its presence distracts from the overall design of your site, or if it’s breaking the layout in some way. If it is breaking, please let us know – in the comments to this post, on Twitter, via carrier pigeon… just make sure we’re aware of the breakage and we’ll get to work on fixing it.
  • Wait. Like I said, we’re working on making the presentation more flexible, more controllable by you. This is a high priority and we’ll push the updates out as soon as we can.

OK, so why did we bother? Let’s go back to what I said up above:

For many, an important goal of their blog is to build a community around their content.

(I would appreciate it if you could avoid the urge to point out that quoting oneself – particularly in the same blog post – is bad form. Thanks.) Blogger Following was an immensely successful feature. Followers were growing by more than one follower per second, every second of the day. Clearly there was demand for this kind of visual representation of the blog’s community – and Following, appearing on nearly 3 million blogs, was filling a need.

But as successful as it was, it was somewhat limited. As a visitor to a blog with followers, I could see faces, but I couldn’t really do anything with them. I couldn’t interact with them, couldn’t share with my friends on other services, and I had to be a account holder to follow a blog in the first place. For a whole host of reasons, following wasn’t delivering on our vision for a more open, engaging community on every blog.

Friend Connect inverts the old model: now anyone can follow a site, your audience gets increased visibility, and your followers get the opportunity to connect to each other instead of just to you/your site.

  • Followers can now join using any of a variety of established IDs (Google account, AIM/Yahoo/Open ID) – gone is the requirement that followers need to be fellow Blogger users. Your followers are now a truer representation of your entire audience, not just your Blogger audience.
  • Clicking on the face of a follower gives you the user’s profile, including their own site as well as sites they’ve joined. Now your site can be a way for your followers to invite people back to their site, strengthening the connections among the members themselves and giving visitors a reason to join your site.
  • Followers can connect to each other on your site. Once you add someone as your friend in Friend Connect, you’ll see their face pop up on other sites that you join where they’re already a member. The first few times this has happened to me, it’s been like walking into a bar where you don’t know anyone, only to recognize two co-workers and a friend from the softball team. It’s very cool:

In the end, I think that makes your site a more interesting destination for your community. As you might imagine, we have a number of things that we hope to build in the weeks and months to come that will leverage this community in new and more interesting ways.

It’s an exciting time, to be sure. But I don’t want to down-play the concerns people have expressed so far – the feedback so far (good and bad) has been tremendously helpful. Keep it coming.

74 responses to “Blogger Following and Friend Connect”

  1. Thank you, this offers a lot of explanation and insight, which I appreciate.I have been wondering if there is anyway for the members and followers to be the same? That way I would only have one set of Followers/Members? Also, showing a total count of Followers is a good solution to the missing Followers issue.

  2. It used to be that when I clicked on a follower's icon, it took me to their “about me” page, from which I could click on their blog.s It was an easy way to visit blogs — new followers of my blog, as well as followers whose blogs I had not yet added to my google reader or to my list of favorite sites.s That doesn't seem to work any more for most of my followers.s How can I get to their blogs?sIf this won't work, I will absolutely not be impressed with the changes.

  3. I've played with things a bit more.s If you click on a follower on the first “page” of followers, then it pops up with their description and links.s But if you expand the list (by clicking “more”), so that you can get to the followers who are “further down the list,” then that feature does not work any longer.s Can you fix that, please?

  4. @LegalMist – can you share the link to your site? Clicking on a face now will pull up that person's links (i.e., their blogs) as well as sites they've followed. So it certainly should work as you've described – but if it isn't, we'll figure out why and fix.

  5. Ok, I take it back, that doesn't seem to be the problem either.s It just seems to randomly work and not work.s It is very frustrating.

  6. I had the google Friend Connect gadget on my blogger blog enabled from a long time, and many of my friends had joined in. It was being opearted using my gmail id. Now the other google friend connect in place of the erstwhile follower thing. But that uses my blogger id… So there are different sets of friends on the two different 'friend – connects'. I don't want to kep both – takes a lot of space and is pretty much inexplicable too… But I don't want to loose any – friends or followers! Think you can help? Please do…Please Please Please.

  7. @aZoed: This is a known issue (applies to my site too, where I switched from Following to early versions of FC to test it out) and something we will be addressing shortly. This doesn't affect a huge number of sites, so we just want to make sure we handle it properly without any negative impacts.

  8. hey! that was quick! thank you so much… from what I got out of your reply,I believe I should be able to see my erstwhile 'friends' and followers underthe same tab some day… hope it comes soon! I'll be waiting :) Comments <>

  9. I have the same issue that aZoed wrote about. I have a Friend Connect gadget enabled from several weeks ago and the Followers gadget which now is so similar with the Friend Connect members one. I don”t want to lose either members or followers I would prefer to “merge” them. Thanks!

  10. This is super-helpful, especially for those of us who haven't played around with these tools a whole heck of a lot. And a great example of using a personal blog for corporate announcements and explanations.sBut do you realize you quoted yourself from within your own blog post? You cite something you said barely three paragraphs previously. Not good form, unfortunately.

  11. Yeah, it's ugly.s REALLY You've also cut the number of little avatars that show up in half.s Also,s I will NOT have advertising on my blog, and I consider that link/graphic to 'Google Friend Connect' to be an ad.s So it's coming down.

  12. @Thalia – Lots of changes coming, so please keep an eye on it and give it a try again down the road. Thanks for your comments.

  13. Hi Rick,i think, GFC will have a huge impact in the near future.”…Thanks for this info, too.sMy Suggestions:s- Replaced the Blogger-Comment-System with GFC- Integrations of Video-Comments (like Seesmic)- Toolbar for Comment-Formating (B, I, Blockquote,Links etc. like JS-Kit)- Add PhotossI want a All-in-One Solution in my Blogger-Blog. I don't like embed all this stuff from so manys Externals. You know: to many accounts, Performance-Problems, work this stuff in the Future too …sBye from Germany

  14. Thank you Rick,I'm a fan and I'am patient…Rome wasn't built in a day, hu hi hi !(I've lost 2, 1 is back and there are lots of people on Earth coming soon!)

  15. Good job!sI love the change.sAlthough, I've noticed something-not major but a little annoying. My Google account is the account I use on Blogger. I signed into a site with GFC and noticed my profile is a little different than my follower profile. My follower profile shows my Blogger profile. My GFC profile shows my Google profile. Both show my recent comments and all that jazz. But I'm hoping you figure out a way to combine them so I can display the same links across either follower widgets or GFC widgets. Personally, I've never liked the Blogger profile so if you switch it to the Google profile I won't lose any sleep over it. People hate change though, so if you consider implementing the Google/Blogger profile mashup don't forget to give people the option to keep all that Blogger profile specific (books, movies) in their new profile so they don't start crying over it.sOh, and I hope this is already in the works but if it isn't can you please integrate the GFC “Wall” into the Blogger commenting system? I used the Wall feature on a blog instead of Blogger's comments and I like the threaded comments of the GFC Wall so much better.sKeep up the good work.

  16. I would like to know if the number of blogs one can follow is now unlimited. It has been 200 but that has proven to be less than adequate for a lot of people.

  17. This is very helpful. thanks for clearing the followers issue. I believe that this can help us improve traffic and readership.. only, is there a way where we can instantly switch the blogs we are following to public? I mean if I have a 400 or so followings, do I really need to click on each to change the settings?sMake or Break

  18. Hello Rick,sI am new to GFC (still no friends added) and was wondering if now that the following gadget is improved it was possible notsto add GFC gadget in my blog ( I get the idea correctly? For someone that does not have GFC, no need to implemented it now, right?sThank you

  19. I m not able to view my blog followers, when I was checking with add a gadget option, it is showing Expirimental like that, I am totally fedup with this…….

  20. The problems I hadsyesterdaysseem to be gone — the “click on the icon and see the profile” feature seems to be working much better today, and the widget is displaying more of the “followers” (all of mine, which is only 20, so I don't know what the limit is) — much better than yesterday's display!sThank you for continuing to improve this feature based on the user feedback.sI will be patient and see how it all comes out.

  21. Great news! We made some updates last night to the Followers widget based on user feedback:s on the way.

  22. @pehpot There's no automated way to convert all blogs you're following to public, but we are looking into that. Thanks for the feedback!

  23. No matter how strong the social advantage friend connect would bring on, I can't accept the visual hurt, my blog get affected because its shows lack of professionalism (visually). Thus for now I left with no choice, need to temporarily remove the widget till the better customization/visual been fixed.ssI support the development (like the way friend connect works) but please don't throw away the good value even for small visual details. Real example here, I think nobody will want to see Nascar cars physically sbroken and torned apart, before the race yet started.

  24. Rick – I think the whole sign in/friend connect side of things is totally confusing to most ordinary mortals like me. I liked the Follower gadget, but am seriously considering taking it down at the moment. For me the great thing about Follower (dreadful name!) is I can see the blogs on my dashboard without having to go into Google Reader. So this is the service I'm offering my readers by using the gadget.sWhat seems to have been lost with the new version is when someone new Follows my blog, they don't necessarily go to thestop of the Followers on view, so it's hard for me to see who's new and to check them out – especially to thank them for Following!sOf course it would be impossible to show all Followers on a blog, but the smaller icons previously meant more could be. It must also be quite galling for existing Followers when their face no longer appears because so many other people have joined. If the avatars could be randomised so that everyone has a chance to be on view, I think that would make people a lot happier, including me.sThanks

  25. Now, if Google Friend Connect used Facebook Connect as one of the login options, the whole social web / web 2.0 thing would be covered in one app/widget! 🙂 As you've already mentioned, the design needs work. The “google friend connect” iconography does not fit wit many blog designs, etc. Make things more subtle in the next update, please.

  26. I'm not in love with the new Friends feature, but I'll live with it. But now, Internet Explorer users can't access my page! I disabled the feature and now it opens, but I would like to add my followers back.

  27. I found your post when I was googling how to change the widget. Now that I've read it, I'm taking the widget down altogether. The ad was annoying because I don't use that Google feature and don't intend to, but I would have been willing to live with it. However, my problem was that the new design was slightly too large. I couldn't figure out how to make it smaller and it was causing a design problem with my template, so I just got rid of it. I'll be watching and when it looks like I can edit the size down to what I need, I'll probably put it back up.

  28. Here's a link to my blog:s the change, I can't get to my followers' blogs by clicking on their faces: I used to right-click their faces, open their details in a new tab, and from there find a list of their blogs.s Now, none of my followers' avatarssgive me that option to open a page–nothing happens; and on the few where I can get to their “about me” page, I can't find a direct link to their blogs, just a list of sites they're a member of.s This is not a good change for me, and I'd far prefer things to go back to how they were before!

  29. I'm a web designer and when I first saw the followers tool as it was offered, well, I was in shock to say the least. I spent a lot of time to get my blog just how it is with a nice design that flows very well with the other tools offered by blogger. The overall design was pleasing to look at with the old followers tool so I am a bit confused as to why it needed to be altered. Was it not working as it should? I only ask because I had the tool on my blog as long as I can remember and now, alas, I have had to remove it because it is as ugly as can be plus I don't need any forced ads on my blog and I see the ad below the box just that. I look at it this way, if it ain't broke why fix it?

  30. The ugly (and lets face it, if my dog was as ugly as the widget I would shoot it) aspect has be addressed, if not solved. I hope the advert aspect will be adressed soon too.sOne question – why 3 links to the same place? surely one is enough? Why does one of the links have to be a huge button, with an identical text link next to it – and what is with the blue squares thing?sI have a 2 year old grand neice, and I suggest you get her to do the design of future widgets.

  31. Since the recent “upgrades” I have not been able to receive comments on my blogs. I receieved a few emails asking why and I do not know! People have attempted to comment but they never post. I have checked and rechecked the settings and they all appear to be fine. I should also mention that those emails were not sent from the blog link, that appears to be unoperational as well. In my blog there is a link to my website where there is also an email link. The emails came from there. That's a LONG detour to contact me! I've also noticed I am not getting traffic from most of my regular readers, leaving me to wonder if the dashboard is showing I have posted new stories. Ho do I fix this?

  32. I don't think the new module is that bad, just a little too big. But please don't try to turn Blogger into a profile based social site, and ruin it like “Windows Live” did to “Spaces”. That's why I left there and came here. Keep it as a Blogging platform and let people choose as to whether they want to add the social aspect to their site.

  33. Yes, the followers gadget is optional – and will continue to be. We think there are lots of benefits to it, but to be clear: the blog is yours, how you design it and what you put on it will always be up to you.

  34. Sorry to redirect you, but comments here aren't a good way to get prompt support – our support team closely monitors the help forum and will have much better tools at their disposal to help out than I will. Go to for guidance from Blogger team members and power users. (For the record – not aware of any system-wide comments problems, and there is no interaction between Friend Connect and commenting for now – so this is unlikely to be related.)

  35. This is a known issue – links to Blogger profiles will be back soon. Thanks for letting us know!

  36. We're working on some visual improvements – as noted in the original blog post, we felt that Friend Connect provides far more functionality in the long-run, and Blogger users will be much better served with it than with Following. That said, we're well aware that the look and feel needs some help – we've already pushed a few changes out, and will be adding more in the near future. Stay tuned!

  37. @blueviolet There is no limit to the number of blogs you can follow using Friend Connect, and we're in the midst of raising the limits from the Blogger dashboard. Hope that helps!

  38. @MrBrownThumb – Great feedback, thanks for chiming in. Re: profiles, we want users to choose which they want to use, and let that be how they're shown to others when using FC to navigate. We still have a little polishing to do on that front, but we're getting there.sDefinitely looking at how to incorporate the Wall and other advanced interactive features, stay tuned!

  39. The newest followers will show up in the top left corner, and will flow left to right from newest to oldest. That's true moving forward; the order may have been jumbled for followers prior to the migration – but for anyone joining from now on, you'll be all set.sRe: randomizing the images, we've heard that request a few times, and are looking at ways of giving you as the publisher more control – definitely something we're considering. Thanks for the feedback!

  40. Rick – Not all the new Followers are showing in the top left hand corner.The only thing I can think it might be if some of the 'new' ones added are onesthat were 'private' followers at the time of migration?

  41. Rick,I've also spotted that if a Follower doesn't have an Avatar, they don't goto the top left of the Followers list when they join, they go to the furthestleft of the people with no Avatar which are at the end of the Followers list.It's most confusing.

  42. It has been over a week now and my followers aren't showing up on my dashboard or blogs.s Could you please tell me who to contact to correct this problem?s I would appreciate any help in this matter.sThanks in advance,sSpookydragonfly

  43. Hi, I am pretty new to blogging and in January created my blog site, JESUSKNOWSYOUBEST.BLOGSPOT.COMsssss An inspiritional blogIs there a way to know how many visitors I may have had to my blog site, in a day or week or month, if they do not sign up as a follower?s Perhaps many people visit the site, however do not become followers.s Also, I noticed,sif I click on view complete profile, then my blog shows an increase in viewers. But is there a way to know how many people may have logged on to my blogsin total?ss Most people probably do not click on to “view complete profile”sor chose to be a (at least yet in my case)sThank you and I await your

  44. Well, I'm not big on change, so I'm having a hard time with the new follower format.s But my issue at the moment is that I'm supposed to be able to change the colors of the new widget.s I change the background color to match my blog and it stays that way for maybe a day and then defaults back.s So I'm changing it virtually every day!s How do I get it to stay the color I want?

  45. That's not currently something offered by Blogger. You could use Google Analytics ( to measure your site's traffic – that will tell you everything you need to know about where visitors are coming from, what they're reading, etc.

  46. JuliesIt happens whenever you do anything to the same sidebar the followers widget is in. change anotehr widget, and followers defaults to the clunky ugly looking thing with more borders than Russia and more colours than a pool table.sI am surprised the “developement” team responsible didn't make it flash through different colours, play a fanfare and then link to some spammy pr0n site just to upset people properly.sAt the moment it's just an annoyance.

  47. Why is there still a limit as to the amount of followers you can follow? 300 blogs is not enough if you're encouraging friend connections. It needs to be way, way higher. More like 1000 or unlimited. Soon everyone will be hitting that new threshold. It doesn't make sense for the type of application it is. Lift the limits, please.

  48. If I try changing the colors, it will appear changed, but the next time I visit the blog it will have switched back to default … if I have a black background, all that can be seen of the gadget is its ugly white border!

  49. Yes, the color change issue is something we discovered earlier today. Working on a fix (my own site is affected as well!) and will update once it's repaired.

  50. This thing is an annoyance, butt-ugly and UNWANTED. It wasn't like we were given an option; all of a sudden this piece of crap is on my side bar—sticking out like a very sore thumb.Why can't you offer it as an option as opposed to shoving it down the throats of we who have spent time building something that is visually pleasant? Plus I don't do ads, and it IS an AD.I value my followers and value recognizing them, so the useless widget is shoved to the very bottom of my page…hopefully lost in the other remnants and dregs.What a sad way to have to treat faithful readers ….. this is an insult.

  51. May I just add to what blueviolet has said regarding increasing the limit from 300 to a higher value of 1000 or more. Although I agree with that but I would like to thank blogger since the current 300 is an improvement to the previous restriction of 120.Thanks and regards

  52. @Anne: It's still optional, and we are working on a number of visual enhancements that should address the majority of your issues. Sorry you don't like the current iteration, I hope that soon-to-come updates will make it better for you.@Big Green Serpent: We're trying to manage scalability and performance tuning, and before we raise the limit further we want to make sure that significantly higher numbers don't adversely impact performance for millions of users. We will continue to look at ways to make this more useful, thanks for the feedback!

  53. He dude i have a little question. How do you put your own link in your profiel. When somebody sees my profiel now they only see the sites i follow not my own links. Could you please tell how you add your own links?? Thnx in advance!

  54. Rick,Hi again…I may have misplaced my google analytics NEW TRACKING CODE which I intend to place on my blog site:JESUSKNOWSYOUBEST.BLOGSPOT.COMCould you please forward it to me again? Thanks and have a great week!K. Frangeskos

  55. Hi Rick,I like the changes that have been made to the Followers module, but there is still one problem.When you go in to try and change the border color, the color palette moves when you try to click on it giving you a diffent color than the one you chose. Maybe you can fix this. Keep up the good work!Gerry 🙂

  56. @TT You put a link in your profile by using HTML markup, like this: [a href=””]link name[/a] where you replace the square brackets with angle brackets. Sorry for the delay in responding!

  57. Hi Rick,I am still getting the message that the gadget 'Followers' is experimental and i should try again later. When will the gadget be operational for my blog?A quick response will be appreciated.Thanks and Regards,Mukund Karnik

  58. @Mukund: The Followers gadget is not available in all languages that Blogger is available in. We are committed to making the entire app available in as many languages as possible, and hope to have more features translated as resources permit.

  59. Hi, Long back i added the follower's widget to my blog. It was working fine and many of my friends also joined in as follower of my blog. But recently, I found that my blog does not get open and loaded. So I removed the widget and found that the blog is working fine. But, I did wish to show-off my followers…Can somebody help me….RachanaLink: Humming Today

  60. @Rachana – this blog isn't the best bet for real-time support. I suggest you keep an eye on @Blogger on Twitter (, our Known Issues page ( and our help forum (, all of which identified this as a known bug which we are working on. The short-term resolution is to move the Followers gadget lower in your sidebar, or remove it entirely – there's a bug affecting IE6 only that we are working to resolve.

  61. Hi Rick;I have been proudly using the follower widget, pass few months, and somehow managed to have atleast 25folowers.BUT, some of my friends who do not have a blog, have mentioned that they dont find it intersting way to read the blog. They said, that being a follower does not help them to be kept updated with the lattest post automatically. They get upadted only when I mail them through the follower or through email. And just incase, if i forget, they also forget to check. I was wondering, it would be great if the followers widget gets connected to the feedburner, where automatically the new posts is posted in the mail of the Reader directly. Or if the blog-link gets automatically entered in the READERS list of the Google.It might be possible, that I am still not aware to use the follower's widget at the optimum. Please let me know if its so, or if I'm missing something.Help Me.Thank U!BLOG: Humming TodayLINK:

  62. I don't find this particularly helpful. You took it upon yourselves to choose for us and for our followers. I can't get my followers faces back onto my sidebar and NONE of them chose to follow secretly. I want to see who likes my blog enough to join as a follower. Why is that so bad? When I try to add the “followers” gadget back in, since you took it away, I get nothing but an option to change colors. I choose colors for the gadget and post – but there's nothing there but a blank spot with a colored outline. Why can't you give us back what we had? Ever heard of don't “fix” it if it isn't broken? Well it's broken now. Thanks a lot.

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