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 del.icio.us 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 del.icio.us 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.