I’ve been thinking a lot about FeedBurner’s new changes where it includes FriendFeed subscribers in its total subscriber count. Unless FeedBurner removes this new feature, subscriber stats may be flawed forever. I don’t want to bore you with all the reasons why this is a bad idea, so instead I’m just going to say I agree with David Spinks, Rob Diana, and Dave Fleet.

This is just the icing on the cake as ProBlogger had already pointed out a few issues with FeedBurner prior to this new change. He brings up some valid points that ultimately led to me writing this post.

So now the question becomes, why do we even need FeedBurner anymore?

FeedBurner was originally created as a means of resyndicating your content in multiple XML formats to suit the needs of different RSS readers. At least that was the pitch that originally got me on board. Now it seems as if the main reasons people are using FeedBurner is to:

  • Track RSS Subscriptions
  • Allow people to subscribe to RSS via email
  • Post process feeds with additional content (sharing links, custom footers, etc)

But now that RSS is reaching maturity, is there any need for this 3rd party service to control our feeds? I mean the whole point of RSS was to create a standardized XML file format that allowed information to be published once and viewed by many different programs. The truth is that most if not all RSS readers can handle the shottiest RSS feeds (I’ve created some pretty shotty feeds in the past).

So what about all the stats, email and flair? Well if you have a wordpress blog and do not mind the extra load on your server, why not just manage your feed yourself with a couple new plugins. A quick Google search brought up this little gem: “How to assemble a Feedburner alternative using WordPress plugins“. The post is a bit old but still very relevant. There are also 200+ RSS plugins in the WordPress plugin directory that are sure to meet whatever needs you can come up with. Now it’s on us to push the development of these and new plugins to give us more control of our RSS feeds.

I left out a lot of my emotions concerning the new changes that have been made to FeedBurner because I didn’t want to just echo the cries of others and instead wanted to propose a possible solution. Long story short, the FeedBurner RSS chicklet used to be an easy way to gauge a blogs popularity. Now that it can be manipulated it has lost its usefulness.

- Photo by striatic

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  • http://www.feedblitz.com Phil Hollows

    If you don[t have wordpress – or the time or technical skills to pull an equivalent together, FeedBlitz has a fully supported RSS stats and branding service. http://www.feedblitz.com/rssfaq.asp

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  • http://blog.benifys.com Vishveshwar Jatain

    I have been using feedburner for our blog for about 3 months now and don’t see much use for it, for one, the views that one gets at the blog are in no way proportional to the subscribed RSS readers.

  • http://www.bloggingtips.com Kevin Muldoon

    I agree completely with everything you said. I was incredi surprised when feedburner started including feedburner stats, it makes it too easy to manipulate things (I wrote about this here).

    I am going to continue to use feedburner until a good alternative arrives. i.e. a service company like aweber or whatever who can offer a viable alternative and make it more difficult for people to artificially increase their feed count.

    Which is the biggest issue here. We could all just advertise our feeds directly with out xml feeds because as you saymost feed readers can handle all types now. However, feedburners greatest asset was it’s chicklet – it was the the chicklet which quickly showed everyone how popular a blog was. It wasn’t perfect but it was the best we had. Sadly, it’s becoming more useless.

  • http://restlesslikeme.com Norcross

    I agree 100%. I began using it simply because it made it easier. Now, I really don’t see the point, and I find it less useful as time goes on. The one helpful thing it still has (IMO) is the dashboard for keeping an eye on multiple feeds.

    • http://www.jonbishop.org Jon Bishop

      @Norcross I forgot about the multiple feed thing, but I’m wondering if that can’t done with some other service. Maybe yahoo pipes or another WordPress plugin. My brains been spinning ever since that last little conversation we had.