Blogging is a fast medium, that’s one of its advantages over traditional media. There are bloggers who specialize in reporting fast about breaking news on a wide variety of topics. Most of those bloggers use Google’s RSS publishing technology FeedBurner as a middleman to deliver their posts to subscribers and capture analytics.
If FeedBurner decides to take its sweet time in delivering the news, that’s bad for bloggers. Unfortunately, that’s what’s happening right now. We’ve been seeing delays of up to 20 minutes between posting to our site and our posts appearing in our FeedBurner feeds. That’s a pretty serious problem and we’re not alone in experiencing it.
Bloggers who contact FeedBurner to complain are being told that the service is changing ping servers, something they are going to announce once all the kinks are worked out. The new ping server URL is http://ping.feedburner.google.com – so if you want to let your readers know about posts hot off the presses, that’s where you want your blogging software to send the news instead of the old ping URL. You can ping both servers and the new ping server is just for the feeds that have migrated to the Google Feedproxy servers, but that could well be you.
If you’re still pinging the old URL, and you probably are, we’re guessing that FeedBurner isn’t even noticing. The service checks all indexed blogs for new posts automatically every 30 minutes so that’s probably how your posts are getting noticed at all. FeedBurner says both ping servers are still operating but we only noticed the issue after seeing lengthy delays in updating.
The Consequences We Face
We love FeedBurner for all it does for us, but this is pretty irresponsible on their part. We’ve noticed that our posts are being seen late by Techmeme, subscribers are getting them later and when other bloggers do a blogsearch for a breaking news topic to see who else has covered it – we’re not there. It’s bad news. Meanwhile the FeedBurner blog hasn’t been updated in 4 months.
In response to an inquiry about the issue, Steve Olechowski, Business Product Manager at AdSense (Adsense now being the raison d’être for our beloved publishing tool) told us, “there’s nothing secret here, we’re just trying to make sure everything works as expected for publishers before we get a deluge of emails about issues we already know about.” That seems like a pretty snide response to a common part of customer service – getting emails about issues you already know about.
We’re pinging the new server now and we hope that will work. We suggest you update your software as well and we hope that FeedBurner will be more sympathetic to the needs of the bloggers they exist to serve in the future.