As a follow-up to my previous post, I decided to take the plunge and sign up with Feedburner (hat tip to Cristian!). Feedburner is a third-party service that generates an enhanced RSS feed for you. What's enhanced about it? For starters it enables you to track RSS statistics for all RSS Aggregators (not just Bloglines). Feedburner does much more too - e.g. it has a "browser-friendly" option that hides the XML code from users and it lets you splice in Flickr photos or links to your RSS feed. Feedburner is a great service, packed with features, but there is a trade-off...

Basically I've handed over control of my RSS feed to a third party, mainly so I can get some decent stats. I'm not overly comfortable with a third-party hosting my RSS feed, but then the decentralized content model is getting more and more acceptable on the Web (I use Flickr and now too).

I want to reiterate that Bloglines subscriber stats has a pretty large margin of error. As I said in my previous post, some people have a variety of RSS/Atom feeds associated with 1 blog. Bloglines only tracks each feed individually. In fact I myself have some subscribers on a little-known RSS 1.0 feed I have - and those subscribers don't show up in the Subscriber stats for my main RSS 2.0 feed.

Now that I have a Feedburner RSS feed, that situation will get worse because now I have a third RSS feed associated with this blog. I configured it so that Feedburner tracks them all as 1, which is the correct way to do it. Bloglines, by tracking each of my 3 feeds separately, is fragmenting my reader statistics.

Put another way - Feedburner takes a blog-centered approach to stats-tracking, while Bloglines takes a feed-centered approach. I much prefer blog-centered, as it's a fairer reflection of how many people subscribe to your content. I've emailed Bloglines Support to ask if they can fix this situation and provide an aggregate count of subscribers for any one blog - no matter how many different feeds it has.

It's too early to discuss what my trends are in Feedburner, but I will write about it later. If you want to try Feedburner out, MT users can follow the instructions here and here. For Radio users, Cristian sent me a couple of very informative emails that hopefully he'll post on his weblog.

Update: Great minds think alike. Jason Fried also has a post about Feedburner today and he lists some other benefits - including that it requires no change on the reader side and it takes the RSS load off your web server. Plus Dick Costolo from Feedburner points in the comments to a handy FAQ.