First, let's take a quick look at why people might follow a blog in the first place. I follow blogs for a handful of reasons, which include:
They provide useful and/or interesting information - I'm a writer and like to read about, and learn from, other writers. I also enjoy reading and seek out others who do as well.
An act of reciprocity - The blog world is a community, and the 'Do unto others..." guideline definitely applies. You must follow to be followed--especially in the beginning. Simply put: could you make friends and build relationships by walking into Walmart, shouting your name and telling everyone to meet you in in aisle 15 of the parking lot if they want to get to know you? Heck no. No one is going to care if you create a blog and start posting stuff unless you make a genuine effort to get to know them too.
For entertainment - Some blogs I follow have nothing to do with writing. I follow them because they're funny, quirky or touch on some other aspect of life I enjoy. Sometimes I follow for purely voyeuristic purposes, meaning it's somebody who has an interesting life or (more likely) interprets their ordinary life in a unique way.
Before I get into how to run people off, I'll qualify a few things. I don't have a ton of experience in 'unfollowing'. I started following blogs when I started blogging (about a year ago), and in that time I've probably quit following 3-7 blogs. That's out of the dozens I currently keep up with. However, I have noticed a pattern in my jumping ship, and that's what I'm going to share. Reasons I quit following:
Lack of reciprocity - I've dropped a few blogs because I continually left comments on their posts and they didn't follow me (minor offense as I'm willing to accept that not everyone I follow is going to dig my blog and some folks like to keep their lists manageable) or didn't acknowledge my comments (major offense)--ever. I don't expect every comment I post to receive a direct response, or even be read for that matter. However, if I comment on your blog weekly over a period of months, at some point it would be cool if you answered my questions or responded to anything I said. Followers of my blog get a ton of slack in this area, btw.
Continued posting of things I completely disagree with - I can probably be accused of this one myself! :) I stopped following a couple of major writing-related blogs because the blogger continually posted offensive content. I'm not talking about nude photos or anything, they simply kept posting things that made me bristle intellectually. Not to mention one of the blogs posted an outrageous slam of pretty much half the human race and, when commentors began to call them out for it, they disabled the comments. If you're going to say controversial things in public, you need to be able to take your medicine. I might delete a profane response to one of my posts, but I'd NEVER prohibit people form disagreeing with me. As a matter of fact, I think some disagreement is healthy.
Constant pandering to the publishing gods (or being a fake, phony, fake) - We all know this is a fickle business. It's hard to get started and even more difficult to stay once you're there (so I'm told). Spitting in the face of conventions is probably not the best thing to do. That being said, I've dropped blogs because they were constantly trying to mirror things the "industry" seemed to encourage as opposed to being an organic representation of the author's voice and style. In my somewhat limited viewing, I'd say prospective YA and young reader bloggers are far worse at this than many of the other writing groups. I don't know if it's a voice thing, a market thing--or something else entirely--but it drives me a little crazy at times. Don't communicate what you think people want to hear, communicate what you think and what they NEED to hear.
Again, I'm sure I've done some of these myself. I've lost a few followers over time, and I may lose a few over this post. I don't think committing any of the 'offenses' listed above on occasion is going to necessarily lose you followers. Unfortunately, it might over time.
What say you? Do you monitor your following? Do you notice when someone drops you? Have you quit following blogs? Why?
PLEASE DON'T QUIT ON ME!