A script to count number of blog subscribers correctly

Reporting the correct number of subscribers is sometimes tricky. This post describes how Jetpack currently counts number of subscribers for self-hosted WordPress blogs.
How do we have 2685 subscribers in our blog? I don’t have any idea. I have been struggling for the past two days to reduce this number. You are probably thinking I have gone crazy. Instead of writing an awesome post on how I got more blog subscribers, I am talking about how I should bring this number down. The subscriber-count of our blog became 2,685 from seven hundred something in one day. Shouldn’t I be alarmed?

Why am I trying to bring the subscriber-count down?

I am trying to bring the subscriber-count down because the number is not correct. So far, our blog has 37 user subscribers, 63 email subscribers, and 620 WordPress followers. The total should be 37+63+620=720. I do not have any clue why the total number is 2,685 in the sidebar. In one fine morning, I noticed that the number has increased drastically. I have no clue what happened.

How do I get my subscriber count?

One direct way to obtain the subscriber-count is by using the widget Blog Subscription (Jetpack) after connecting a self-hosted WordPress site to WordPress.com via the Jetpack plugin. A problem is — the Blog Subscription (Jetpack) widget will only give you the number of your WordPress followers.

To include my email subscribers and subscribers with login, I use a PHP code that adds the additional subscriber-counts with the Jetpack provided WordPress follower-count. My PHP code is provided below. I found the code on the Internet. I just changed a thing or two.


$result = count_users();
$subs_count = get_transient('wpcom_subscribers_total');

if (FALSE === $subs_count || 'failed' == $subs_count['status']) {
	Jetpack:: load_xml_rpc_client();
	$xml = new Jetpack_IXR_Client(array('user_id' => JETPACK_MASTER_USER,));
	if ($xml->isError()) { // error
		$subs_count = array(
		'status' => 'failed',
		'code' => $xml->getErrorCode(),
		'message' => $xml->getErrorMessage(),
		'value'=>(isset($subs_count['value']))?$subs_count['value'] : 0,
	} else {
	$subs_count = array(
	'status' => 'success',
	'value' => $xml->getResponse(),

set_transient('wpcom_subscribers_total', $subs_count, 3600); // cache

$active_subscribers = es_cls_dbquery::es_active_subscribers();

echo "Join " . ($active_subscribers+$result['total_users']+$subs_count[value]) . " subscribers.";


This is giving me the message — Join 2685 subscribers.

To the best of my understanding, $active_subscribers gives the count of email subscribers. $result['total_users'] provides the number of subscribed users. Finally, $subs_count[value] is supposed to give me the number of WordPress followers. $subs_count[value] is the part that is coming from WordPress.com via Jetpack. Unfortunately, this number is incorrect. Even Blog Subscription (Jetpack) widget from Jetpack is giving me this large value instead of anything closer to 720.

My conclusion

I think Jetpack is doing this mistake. Probably something updated automatically in the past few days. Maybe after the update, the code is not doing what it is supposed to do. I do not know. WordPress.com is showing me that I have 620 WordPress followers, whereas Jetpack is reading the number as 2585. Added with my email and account subscribers the total is showing up as 2685, where it is supposed to be 720.

What will I do now?

I will study more to see if I can see the bottom (or top) of it. Meantime, you know that our subscriber-count is not that large (I wish it was). It is actually 720, as of today (August 19).

Please let me know if you have a clue.

Settle in El Paso team

Update (August 22):

I wrote to WordPress.com first. They instantly responded that it is not their headache because our blog is a self-hosted WordPress website. They suggested I contact the WordPress.org Support.

I wrote to wordpress.org and they provided me with surprising information. As of August 18, 2018, Jetpack includes social followers — Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and any social media Publicized/connected via Jet pack — in the subscriber count. This is the reason why I have this jump of subscribers. Well … that explains a lot. Here is the conversation I had with a WordPress.org moderator: Link.

I got my answer! Hurrah … my phantom subscribers are real! 🙂

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78 thoughts on “A script to count number of blog subscribers correctly

  1. Well you certainly have an interesting problem! I’m not sure that having too many subscribers would be a bad problem however. It’s amazing how much of a boost you can see in your following once you add in Facebook, Twitter, and all of those other social media sites!

    1. Haha … Yes, when the number increased drastically my first impression was that my website is giving errors. 🙁 Now I know that my social media subscribers are included.

      About social media, in my experience, it is more common to have more social medial followers with some or little activities than email subscribers. Number of Twitter subscribers increases very quickly with some activities. Thank you for visiting and commenting. Have a wonderful day.

    1. Yes, I contacted WordPress. They have informed me that Jetpack now includes Social media like Twitter and Facebook followers. The subscribers include Facebook and Twitter. This is why it is large. Thank you for visiting and commenting.

  2. Good to hear that your 2685 subscribers are not fake. It must be lovely to know that you have so many subscribers for your blog (including social media followers of course as well).

    1. Yes, it is good to know that the number of subscribers including social media is increasing everyday. Thank you for visiting and commenting on this blog. Have a wonderful day.

  3. I know now why your subscriber count double in numbers, because of the topics. You have a wonderful and informative post for all ages, specially family matters. Keep the post coming and we are waiti g to see more of your adventures in El Paso. Congrats!

  4. OOPS I commented on Google + when I meant to comment here. So funny! (especially given the topic of your post)

    Very interesting post. Thank you. <3 I love your blog – it has a lovely feeling to it. Have a beautiful weekend and blessings to you and your family. Great that your blog is a family blog!

    1. I am so happy to know that you love this blog! I watched your welcoming video on your blog. You have such a lovely voice and a lovely smile, and you said so lovely things about forgiveness that my eyes literally were filled with tears.

      I too wish you a wonderful weekend and all lovely days.

  5. PHP can be pretty buggy, but your blog have a pretty good content, so I really think you deserve this amount of subs. It could be also something conected with social medias. Best of luck and cheers!

  6. Wow! Hopefully, you find out how you got the mysterious subscribers! I’d happily take them off your hands haha! Maybe your blog was featured somewhere? Mine was featured or tweet about by WordPress and I got an increase in subscribers, but that’s the only explanation I can think of! Another alternative is to contact WordPress and see if they can look at the analytics and see where the subscribers were coming from?

    1. Yes, I contacted WordPress. They have informed me that Jetpack now includes Social media like Twitter and Facebook followers. That is why my subscribers count became large after the jetpack update. Thank you for visiting and commenting.

  7. Haha, that is really weird. But if I was you I don’t think that I’d be so worried from the beginning, can it actually hurt your website if there’s some error with the displayed followers or? Sorry, I don’t have deep knowledge when it comes to things like these. That’s why I love your whole little investigation and I am happy that you managed to find out where the real secret was hidden! It’s a pretty neat feature of them adding the social followers to the total count. I like that.

    Also as of right now, it says that you have “2746 subscribers” so congratulations, you keep growing steadily! Well deserved 🙂

    1. Thank you for the kind words. yes, subscribers are growing, especially because we are becoming more active in the social media, I guess. Have a wonderful weekend ahead.

  8. I really think you are crazy (joking) if you want to count down the number of your subscribers. You should be happy even I the number of 720 is not equal with 2685, I would be glad if I would have at least 500 subscribers to my blog.
    Your work was appreciated and rewarded, you should be proud of your blog and your work.

    1. Haha … Thank you very much for the kinds words. The current count includes social media like Facebook and Twitter. This is why it looks large. Have a wonderful weekend ahead.

  9. First of all, congratulations for 2685 suscribers! keep going!!
    Jetpack is really a cool thing! I am gonna install it in my wordpress blog very soon.

  10. Good for you that the numbers are real. Your added followers are from facebook, twitter, and google +. Congratulations! I find your blog informative. That is maybe the reason you gained more followers, you have amazing contents. Just keep the topic and information flooded in your blog, so us, your subscriber will learn a lot from you. Thanks again.

    1. Thank you for your comment and the wish. Many subscribers here are Twitter as well as Facebook followers. Have a wonderful day.

      1. I recently checked now and you have increased your subscribers by nearly 100 in 4 days. This is great news. At this rate you will have a large number of subscribers in no time. Keep up the good work and keep providing us more and more knowledge.

        1. Thank you for the calculation. Twitter subscribers are increasing fast. Email subscribers too. Thank you for the well wish.

          1. You are increasing your subscribers at a fast rate. Congratulations to you for increasing Twitter and Email subscribers. I wish you all the luck in the world to achieve your desired goals. Your content is getting amazing day by day. Your content is helping me and many others around the world to know new things.

  11. Sometimes you can’t trust numbers lol but I hope this blog will have a lot of subscribers in the near future just like the counter suggests.

    1. Thank you for wishful thought. I noticed that number of Twitter subscribers/followers increase at a faster rate than other social media. Thank you for visiting and commenting.

  12. This is interesting bit of information, thanks for sharing. I have been wondering if i should make the switch to WP.org, which I think you already have. If you have any tips, experiences to share on this I would really appreciate it. Thanks!

    1. Yes, I have the self-hosted WP.org site. That actually means, that I have downloaded a blog management software from WP.org and installed it in the server where our blog is kept (or, it was preinstalled by the hosting service). I think, you also have a WP.org self-hosted site, given that you have your own domain.

      WP.com site that allows free blogs. The WP.com community is vibrant too. This is why many self-hosted blog owners prefer to connect to WP.com via jetpack from their self-hosted site.

      I took a look at your blog, which is amazing. You already have a self-hosted site (I think, it is a WP.org site). Also you are connected to WP.com via jetpack, I believe. I am saying this because I have seen the like buttons on your posts that usually come when JP.com is connected using Jetpack.

      Thank you. very much for visiting and commenting. Please let me know if you have any question.

  13. Awesome! Social media followers should be counted, anyway. Settle in El Paso is famous. Whoop, whoop! 🙂

    1. I asked WordPress.org Support about it. They have responded that Jetpack is now including social media followers as subscribers. This is the reason why subscriber count of my site looks this large. It actually now includes Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ readers. This is the story behind such an increase all of a sudden. Thank you so much for visiting and commenting.

  14. Extra followers is a problem I’d love to have. However, it sounds like your number might be inflated with non-existent followers. Good luck straightening this out.

    1. Haha … Definitely a good problem to have. I have just updated the post with an additional piece of information. I have found that Jetpack is now including social media in the subscriber count. This is why I saw this rise of number of subscribers. 🙂 Have a wonderful day.

  15. Weird 🙂
    That last line of the PHP seems to be adding a lot of counts together, but I don’t know PHP so there you go. Maybe they’re WordPress-sponsored phantom followers who drift from blog to blog, spreading happiness and confusion.

    1. Haha … I love the phantom analogy. Yes the last line is adding three items one of which is number of WordPress followers including the phantom followers. ? Thank you for visiting and commenting. Have a wonderful day.

  16. I don’t chase followers, in actual fact I actively dump them if they don’t regularly read my posts, so I haven’t noticed this particular error in said program but there are heaps of other errors generated by it that go un-repaired. I wont go into detail here but the system of ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ and the system of statistic collection via that program is at times woeful. It’s a necessary evil because the guts of the system is a closed book and writing new code and new programs to get around the technical parts of it is near impossible for someone on the outside. Help is almost no existent and what it comes down to is using but never relying on anything it says as 100% accurate.

    1. Haha ? well said.

      I am pretty confident the problem will be resolved, probably with the next update of jetpack or WordPress. Again, as you pointed out, this would still be relying on what existing programs tell us.

      I like your not chasing followers strategy. At my end, I like to believe that someone pressed the follow button or subscribed via email because he/she thought at least for once that my posts will be of use someway. The feeling of being able to help is always great.

      Thank you for visiting and commenting. Have a wonderful week.

    1. I wish too it were true. 🙂 I will be happy to share. Thank you for visiting and commenting. Have a wonderful day.

    1. Haha … Yes definitely. I think, this is a glitch. Time will say. 🙂 Thank you for visiting and commenting.

  17. That’s strange about the number increasing that much in one day. You could always message WordPress, if that is who your blog is through, and ask them. They have always answered my questions pertaining to anything when I’ve wondered if it is a “glitch” 🙂

    1. This is a great suggestion. I never communicated with WordPress. I will definitely contact them. Thank you for visiting and providing this suggestion. Have a wonderful day.

  18. If you find out who those followers are, could you please send some over to me? Are you sure you weren’t picked as one of the featured blogs at WordPress discover?

    1. Haha … I will definitely send some over to your site if they are real. I do not think any of our posts was picked at WordPress Discover. Thank you for such a great wishful thought though. Have a wonderful day (and a great eclipse time). 🙂

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